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Data Driven and Outcome Oriented

In a system of care, being data-driven means that decisions are made using concrete information about what is actually happening, rather than personal stories or gut feelings. Data may include information about which children and youth use the most intense services, what characteristics they have in common, and whether those services are accessible. A key part of data-driven decision making is identifying high-risk children and youth and providing timely interventions to prevent more severe behavioral health challenges later.

Often decisions in human services are made with limited or no information. Data-driven decision making requires discipline to change the culture in which decisions are made. These culture shifts include investing in collecting data, spending time and resources to review data, and making changes based on what has been discovered.

Along with being data driven, a system of care value is being outcome oriented. Too often, staff measure inputs, the efforts put into a program or process. For example, an organization may report how many people were trained. What is not reported is the outcome—what happened as a result of the training. Did attendees adopt a specific behavior they learned in the training?  Did they use a new technique learned in the training?  Another example is measuring the number of clients served. Focusing and measuring the result of a client being served, such as being able to stay in school or being able to stay with their family, lets stakeholders in a system of care know whether their efforts are successful and where stakeholders need to make improvements.

Having a data driven and outcome oriented system of care is challenging. Both require focus on information that is not typically gathered and analyzed. However, being data driven and outcome oriented, helps stakeholders know whether children, youth and their families are doing better. It also helps stakeholders understand where improvements are needed.

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