Introduction

Each month we provide “2 Tips” on program and/or operational assessment for professionals in Human Services and Education organizations.

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Tip 1: Collect Household Size

Description:

For programs that are not directly focused on serving families or households, collecting the Household Size is often overlooked. The new skills, knowledge, and/or network that program participants gain from participating in your program secondarily benefits the members of the household. For example, healthy eating and nutrition programming with parents positively impacts all members of the household.

Benefit to collecting Household Size:

1. During analysis, you will be able to consider whether household size or household dynamics has anything to do with the success of program participants.

2. During analysis and reporting, you will be able to speak to the number of people secondarily impacted by your program. That is, the successful completion of your program impacts the entire household and especially the children in the household.

How:

At the point of application or in-take, ask for the total household size based on who calls the residence their home. You might ask multiple questions to get at greater specificity (for partnering or funding opportunities) such as the number of children 0 to 8-years, number of young adults, number of elderly, and number of persons with disabilities.

Tip 2: Collect ratio of Attempted-Contact to Successful-Contact

Description:

For programs that serve program participants across a period of time, communication with participants is a feature of staff responsibilities. The ratio being referred to is the amount of attempts to contacts a client (e.g. phone calls, mailing letters, text messages, etc.) to the number of successful contacts with the client (e.g. an actual exchange through phone, in-person meeting, or email). Different program types will have different expected ratios; for example, for some programs 10 attempts for every 1 successful conversation with a client might be the expected ratio.

Benefit to Collecting the Ratio:

1. The ratio informs tweaks that can be made to the program design to shrink the ratio. For example, perhaps Facebook messaging is not something that your staff team uses to communicate with clients, but should experiment with this method.

2. The ratio might indicate that targeted staff coaching will benefit your team. For example, perhaps two of your staff members have small ratios such as 6 attempted contacts for every 1 successful conversation with a client. In this case, the staff with small ratios might have certain interpersonal skills that can be shared with colleagues and coached on with the entire staff team.

3. The ratio communicates a concrete point for partners and funders: the staff team works diligently on delivering the program. Intellectually, we all know that running successful programs in Human Services and Education organizations takes diligent, sophisticated effort. But sharing concrete counts like the number of times that staff strategically reach out to clients draws a visual image for partners who do not actually understand the internal workings of your program.

How:

Add questions or prompts to your case management form or communication log. It is important to collect date about an attempted contact and whether the attempt was successful or not. Then the number of attempted contacts made in a two-week period and the success rate can be quantified. For example, perhaps staff member Juanita makes 12 attempted contacts with a client named Bill during a two-week period; one of the 12 attempts was successful.

Therefore, for this specific client, Juanita has a 12 to 1 (12:1) ratio. Juanita’s average ratio across her whole caseload of 15 clients might be 10:1. If your organization does not have a database to collect this data and help make these calculations, staff members or the QA Lead for your organization can make these calculations.

Why did we develop “2 Tips” videos?

The Anchoring Success team trusts the talent and sophistication of professionals in Human Services and Education organizations. We know that many professionals and organizational leaders do not have the funds to partner with specialists (like us) and/or the time to strategize on what might seem like extra projects.

Therefore, we launched these “2 Tips” videos to make tweaks, adjustments, and refinements to programs and operations doable for busy professionals in  these organizations!