Since 2013, Metis has been working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation on its Family-Centered Community Change initiative, a seven-year, place-based effort to improve outcomes for children and families living in high-poverty neighborhoods. As part of this work, we help local community-based organizations across the country offer data-informed parent-child programming and deliver highly customized support services that engage parents and staff in making data count. These programs emanate from research that shows that a “two-generation” approach is more likely to produce long-lasting change than separate adult and child programming.
Family-Centered Data Support
Metis provides data management services to support Family-Centered Community Change grantees in Buffalo, Columbus, and San Antonio. Each of the grantees is collecting substantial data on families served, such as demographics, participation, earnings, and educational achievement.
Metis initiated this work with a simple theory that data are more useful when they can be cross-referenced. For example, data about program participants are more helpful to policymakers when they are understood in the context of institutions, communities, systems, and economies. Data are more useful to managers and evaluators when they describe the relationships among people—especially family relationships—rather than seeing each person’s progress in a vacuum.
Our role has been to support each two-generation partnership to strengthen their cross-referencing linkages. We develop custom data solutions, support the roll-out of new data systems, and create complex master data files for cross-grantee reporting and evaluation. For example, a custom data solution could be a workflow process to transfer data from one system into another periodically. Support for a new data system could involve pressing a vendor to answer questions about what defines program participation.
Engaging Stakeholders in Data Interpretation
We are proud of the strategies the Metis team has used to engage managerial staff, front-line staff, and parents in data interpretation. In our approach to this work, we believe it is essential that those people whom the data describe are involved in their interpretation. In this case, mainly parents and front-line staff are included in making meaning from the data.
To this end, Metis staff have co-facilitated “data walks” where small groups of stakeholders move around together from poster to poster to jointly interpret data. The Metis team created “data cards” so that people can hold data in their back pockets and have them at their fingertips when they talk in group settings.
The data walks provide environments in which school administrators can hear directly from front-line staff and parents about their insights into the data. Some past examples of these insights have included the profound impacts of transportation systems and school climate on student attendance.