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Data in Action

Data in Action

DCHS is committed to making data accessible and useful

Over the past several years, DCHS has invested heavily in data systems and infrastructure to responsibly collect, manage, and share information. While reporting requirements (from Metropolitan King County Council, funders, etc.) drove most of these initial investments, DCHS’s goal is for data to be widely accessible and used to animate conversations, spark innovation, and direct programming and policy decisions to the benefit of King County residents.

The Performance Measurement and Evaluation (PME) unit often collaborates with program partners to:

  • Create public-facing dashboards that answer common questions about DCHS-managed services
  • Promote data literacy and increase comfort through trainings for DCHS and provider staff
  • Develop and maintain King County’s Client Outcomes Reporting Engine (CORE), that allows providers to securely submit client-level program data and visualize their performance relative to program-specific metrics also reviewed by their DCHS program manager
  • Explore data with the community via DataWalks as a platform for interpretation and collaboration

Human Services Workforce and Organizations are Key to DCHS Achieving Positive Impacts

Facilitating high-quality services is the main mechanism by which DCHS impacts the King County community. Collecting high-quality data, reviewing program performance, and developing and monitoring quality improvement initiatives are examples of how DCHS collaboratively creates and uses data with service participants, contracted providers, and our own direct services staff.

DCHS is dedicated to sharing information with its provider partners and working with them to find and use their own insights. Below are three stories that highlight how DCHS has worked to share back information, explore opportunities, and identify next steps in collaboration with funded providers.

Click on one of the four stories below to learn more about how DCHS has worked to share back information, explore opportunities, and identify next steps in collaboration with funded providers.

The King County Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) team used the August 2022 provider meeting to share and reflect on countywide outcomes data. King County and provider agency staff explored the demographics of children served, provider demographics, developmental outcomes, and reasons families exited services early. King County facilitated conversations about how providers’ experiences could add context and help explain disparities by race and ethnicity in the quantitative data. For example, providers identified a potential connection between families who chose to leave ESIT early and difficulties accessing culturally and linguistically responsive services. Their lived experience in the work revealed patterns that the quantitative data did not show on its own.

Actions resulted in:

  • Support for each ESIT agency to regularly review consistent data points that can help them understand and address any demographic disparities in the families they are serving and their outcomes.
  • Facilitation of a shared learning discussion at a provider meeting for ESIT agencies to learn from one another.
  • Incorporation of learnings, such as organizations’ responses to, “Did you notice disparities between groups in your data? If so, what do you think your organization needs to do to reduce these disparities?,” into ESIT’s Request for Applications for continued Best Starts funding,

Next steps:

  • Prioritization of providers who are culturally and linguistically reflective of ESIT families in workforce development efforts.
  • Pursuit of a deep-dive study of disparities in early exits by race and ethnicity.
  • Continued encouragement and support to agencies to review their own data disaggregated by race/ethnicity and language.

In June 2021 Best Starts partnered with the City of Seattle to distribute $7.4 million to child care workers in the form of one-time retention payments. The program reached about 90 percent of providers in the county, representing 12,000 workers who received a one-time payment between $400 and $500. Through the distribution process, DCHS was able to collect information on the number of child care sites, number of workers at each site, and key demographic and geographic data.

In January 2023, the program also engaged child care providers through focus groups. Providers were asked about options to administer a wage increase for child care workers and how to prioritize child care sites for the pilot project. The program is using the data from child care sites and the feedback from provider focus groups to design an eligibility and selection process for the full Workforce Demonstration Pilot Project.  Once fully operationalized, the pilot project will provide salary supplements for approximately 1400 child care workers in King County until 2027.

Actions resulted in:

  • Design of the wage boost amount and frequency of payments to be administered to child care workers based on focus group input.
  • The decision to include all workers in the wage boost at selected child care sites.
  • A data-driven process for selecting sites to ensure both child care centers and family child care sites are represented in the project.
  • Development of an eligibility and enrollment process that prioritizes geographic representation across King County and child care sites that may benefit more deeply from enrollment in the project.

Next steps:

  • Continued engagement with child care workers to refine selection and eligibility criteria.
  • Selection of sites to begin receiving a wage boost for their workers.
  • Sustained efforts for child care workers to share their insights and ideas on the pilot project.

Adult Drug Court (ADC) is a pre-adjudication program for individuals charged with felony property and other drug-related crimes. The program provides treatment, case management, housing, resources, structure, and accountability to assist participants in making the changes needed to exit the criminal-legal system and achieve long-term recovery.

ADC observed a noticeable decrease in referrals in 2021, which continued into 2022, as a result of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, changes in law enforcement and prosecution, the implementation of alternative diversion programs serving a similar population, and State legislation related to felony drug possession. Program managers identified the need to expand ADC eligibility criteria and met with program partners and community members to understand the barriers to program access.

Actions resulted in:

  • Consultation with the National Association of Drug Court Professionals for recommendations regarding equitable access and expansion opportunities.
  • The Drug Court Executive Committee adopting a proposal for eligibility criteria expansion, allowing additional criminal charges to be considered for ADC, reducing exclusionary criteria that previously barred access to the program, and increasing the restitution limit for cases referred to ADC.

Next steps:

  • Examine the impact of eligibility expansion on program access and outcomes.
  • Implement the Drug Court Restitution Fund to prevent disparities in drug court access and successful completion.

The Community-Based Organization Grant Assistance and Capacity Building (GACB) program launched in July of 2022 to address barriers to applying for and managing King County grants. The support is intended primarily for small Community-Based Organizations (CBOs; <20 staff, <$4M budget) and organizations that predominately support Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Grant Assistance (GA) is available during the funding application process and may include support with language barriers or determining whether the opportunity is a good fit for the organization. Capacity Building (CB) supports eligible providers that contract with King County to develop and strengthen the skills, knowledge, and processes that organizations need to effectively manage the funding award.

During implementation, GACB program managers built off what was learned in other capacity building programs, like those offered by Best Starts for Kids and the Veterans, Seniors and Human Services Levy. They developed a monitoring plan and setup an automated database that served as a one-stop shop to receive requests for services from the community, assign projects to consultants, and collect feedback from CBOs that participated in the program. They then reviewed data about the types of requests and needs from participating CBOs, hours spent providing supports, and direct feedback about programming. These learnings were used to make real-time adjustments in programming and support continuous quality improvement.

Actions resulted in: 

  • Creation of dashboards that allow for real-time analysis of data and feedback from CBOs.
  • Improvements in the process for submitting requests and matching CBOs with consultants.
  • More collaboration between other capacity building and grant assistance programs within DCHS.

Next steps: 

  • Expansion of the GACB program to other departments outside of DCHS – the Department of Natural Resources and Parks started using GACB in 2023.
  • Continue to streamline the process for submitting request and connecting CBOs with consultants of their choice, driven by feedback from CBOs and consultants.
  • Launch an RFP to expand the number, types, and diversity of consultants to be more responsive to the needs of CBOs.
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