The National Family Preservation Network is very fortunate to collaborate with many family-serving agencies worldwide. This month we want to highlight the work of the Indiana Association of Resources and Child Advocacy (www.iarca.org). IARCA represents approximately 100 member agencies in Indiana providing a broad array of services, including home-based services, foster care, residential care, transitional/independent living, shelter care and crisis stabilization.
IARCA has partnered with NFPN in several capacities over the years, and IARCA recently launched an exciting new initiative called “Outcomes 2020”. The cornerstone of this initiative is a renovated online comprehensive assessment system. It will be implemented across twelve programs that provide a continuum of services. It encompasses over 50 agencies which served 5,800 youth/families in 2018.
This initiative builds on two decades of great work by the IARCA Outcome Measures Project. It is the first major overhaul of its assessment process since the project was launched. Recognizing that modern data expectations are different than they were back then, “Outcomes 2020” introduces an evidence-based, comprehensive assessment system that will allow for more nuanced measurement and more sophisticated analysis.
In making this change, IARCA’s Outcomes Task Force was guided by two principles: (1) to develop a comprehensive assessment system that is no more administratively burdensome than the former process and, (2) to the degree possible, develop these changes in coordination with the Indiana Department of Child Services.
The IARCA Outcome Measures Project began making the North Carolina Family Assessment Scale – General + Reunification (NCFAS-G+R) available to home-based project participants on a voluntary basis in 2017. Based on research from the project’s external evaluators, the NCFAS-G+R was determined to be the best evidence-based tool that meets the project’s needs. Therefore, the decision was made to move it the forefront of the project and require usage as part of the “Outcomes 2020” initiative.
To make room for the NCFAS-G+R in the comprehensive assessment system, two external evaluators and the Outcomes Task Force recommended the deletion of several previous tools. The IARCA board approved the recommendations. While these tools were of great benefit for many years, they did not meet current assessment standards or modern data expectations. As a result of adding the NCFAS-G+R and removing some other tools, the administrative burden of using the “Outcomes 2020” comprehensive assessment system is expected to be equal to, or slightly less than, the former assessment process.
IARCA is supporting “Outcomes 2020” with in-person training, webinars, and technical assistance for participating providers. The initiative officially began on January 6th. IARCA will collect data on the initiative and share this data with NFPN on an ongoing basis. NFPN plans to present the findings to the public in 2021. We are optimistic that “Outcomes 2020” will provide valuable research and guidance for assessing many other programs and agencies around the world.
Posted by Michelle Reines, NFPN Executive Director