Lutheran Services in America Advances Measurable Results for Kids

Posted April 17, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog measurableresultsforvulnerable 2017

Luther­an Ser­vices in Amer­i­ca, one of the largest non­prof­it health and human ser­vices net­works in the Unit­ed States, recent­ly tapped the Casey Foundation’s exper­tise in results-based lead­er­ship (RBL) to enhance the impact of its work on behalf of vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren and families.

This col­lab­o­ra­tion has been help­ing net­work lead­ers devel­op core com­pe­ten­cies and skills that have already led to mea­sur­able improve­ments in such areas as adop­tion and school readi­ness. In the RBL pro­gram, 4,000 youth and their fam­i­lies are on track to achieve bet­ter out­comes because of net­work lead­ers’ focus on data-dri­ven deci­sion mak­ing and strategies.

RBL is a set of tools and tech­niques our mem­bers are learn­ing to achieve actu­al demon­stra­ble results,” says Ale­sia Frerichs, vice pres­i­dent of mem­ber engage­ment at Luther­an Ser­vices in Amer­i­ca. It’s not like you read a book and go back to your work and won­der how it applies. RBL is inter­wo­ven with the com­mon chal­lenges we face as mul­ti-ser­vice, mul­ti-state orga­ni­za­tions, try­ing to nur­ture chil­dren and ensure they are on a path­way to suc­cess­ful adulthood.”

Luther­an Ser­vices in America’s intro­duc­tion to devel­op­ing an out­comes-focused cul­ture was when it par­tic­i­pat­ed in the provider net­work of the Casey Foundation’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group. When Frerichs indi­cat­ed that her orga­ni­za­tion want­ed a bet­ter under­stand­ing of how people’s lives were improved by its work, the Foun­da­tion sug­gest­ed RBL as a way to help achieve and mea­sure change among a pop­u­la­tion of people.

Deter­min­ing how many lives we’re impact­ing makes RBL incred­i­bly rich. But more impor­tant­ly, know­ing how people’s lives are bet­ter is the real point of RBL,” says Frerichs.

New lead­er­ship skills, notes Frerichs, are par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant to the orga­ni­za­tions that make up Luther­an Ser­vices in Amer­i­ca because of the com­plex, dynam­ic cli­mate in which they oper­ate. Many orga­nize refugee reset­tle­ment or oth­er­wise assist refugees and immigrants.

The net­work also cares for a broad, diverse pop­u­la­tion cov­ered by Med­ic­aid. A recent­ly pro­posed mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar cut in fed­er­al Med­ic­aid spend­ing, which would severe­ly impact seniors, peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, chil­dren and fam­i­lies, required a rapid response of out­reach and advocacy.

Among Luther­an Ser­vices’ orga­ni­za­tions, the demand for lead­er­ship-skill build­ing was strong. The nation­al office select­ed 10 mem­ber orga­ni­za­tions for the pro­gram and worked close­ly with Casey staff and the Foundation’s RBL fac­ul­ty to design a 10-month pro­gram focused on data analy­sis, race equi­ty and oppor­tu­ni­ty, col­lab­o­ra­tion and appli­ca­tion to the work in their orga­ni­za­tions and systems

The fol­low­ing orga­ni­za­tions are par­tic­i­pat­ing in Luther­an Ser­vices in America’s RBL program:

  • Luther­an Fam­i­ly Ser­vices Rocky Mountains
  • Luther­an Ser­vices Carolinas
  • Luther­an Ser­vices Florida
  • Luther­an Social Ser­vices of Indiana
  • Luther­an Social Ser­vices of Minnesota
  • Luther­an Social Ser­vices of New York
  • Luther­an Social Ser­vices of South Dakota
  • Luther­an Social Ser­vices of the Nation­al Cap­i­tal Area
  • Upbring (Texas)
  • Well­spring (Michi­gan)

After a deep data dive, each of the 10 orga­ni­za­tions is set­ting — and refin­ing — its own tar­gets for mea­sur­ably improv­ing the live cir­cum­stances of chil­dren they serve. For exam­ple, the near-term goal of Luther­an Ser­vices of South Dako­ta is to have 560 few­er minor­i­ty youth involved with the juve­nile jus­tice system.

Pub­lic account­abil­i­ty for achiev­ing tar­get goals is built into the pro­gram. The orga­ni­za­tions will present their results through May 2017 at a final sem­i­nar. The group will recon­vene in Jan­u­ary 2018 for a last account­abil­i­ty ses­sion to report on results through the end of 2017. Luther­an Ser­vices in Amer­i­ca will share the work of the 10 pilot orga­ni­za­tions with the broad­er network.

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