Results Count Program Informs Plan to Eradicate Poverty in Washington

Posted February 16, 2021
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog applyingresultscountskillstopoverty 2021

Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state (center) and Lori Pfingst, senior director with DSHS (to Inslee's right) join members of the governor’s executive cabinet and co-chairs of the Poverty Reduction Work Group.

In Wash­ing­ton state, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s Pover­ty Reduc­tion Work Group has released a com­pre­hen­sive 10-year plan to dis­man­tle pover­ty statewide. The group’s main facil­i­ta­tor and writer, Lori Pfin­gst, cred­its one pro­gram — Results Count® — with shap­ing her work on the project.

About Results Count

Results Count is a results-based lead­er­ship devel­op­ment pro­gram from the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion. It teach­es deci­sion mak­ers like Pfin­gst, who attend­ed the Foundation’s Lead­er­ship Insti­tute for State-based Advo­cates in 2014, how to lever­age data to real­ize con­crete goals. Par­tic­i­pants learn a range of skills, includ­ing how to hold a neu­tral stance to help a large group stay focused on top-lev­el goals; col­lect the best avail­able data and bring it to life with sto­ries from peo­ple dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by pover­ty; and facil­i­tate dif­fi­cult con­ver­sa­tions about struc­tur­al racism and inter­sec­tion­al­i­ty. Pfin­gst used all of these skills to help shape Washington’s 10-year plan, she says.

Tools from Results Count pro­grams, avail­able on Casey’s web­site, include webi­na­rs, videos and check­lists designed to help lead­ers get large-scale results for chil­dren, fam­i­lies and communities.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tion Matters

Work on the plan began in Novem­ber 2017, when Gov­er­nor Inslee cre­at­ed the work group to devel­op a strate­gic plan to reduce pover­ty, improve com­mu­ni­ties and make need­ed progress relat­ed to hous­ing, health inte­gra­tion, employ­ment and education.”

Helm­ing the effort: 22 steer­ing com­mit­tee mem­bers who rep­re­sent­ed — both demo­graph­i­cal­ly and geo­graph­i­cal­ly — a range of pover­ty expe­ri­ences with­in the state. We agreed that peo­ple who were dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by pover­ty should have the pow­er and author­i­ty to over­see and approve the plan’s pri­or­i­ties and rec­om­men­da­tions,” says Pfin­gst, a senior staffer at the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Social and Health Ser­vices. The work group made a strong com­mit­ment to race and social jus­tice from the out­set and com­mit­ted to going deep on equi­ty to ensure the plan would lead to a more just future.”

Exam­in­ing the Evi­dence and Root Causes

In Feb­ru­ary 2020, the work group released a pre­lim­i­nary ver­sion of the plan and fol­lowed with 10 months of pub­lic webi­na­rs dur­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. This out­reach, which inten­tion­al­ly engaged peo­ple dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly affect­ed by pover­ty, helped to strength­en the document’s strate­gies and rec­om­men­da­tions. I pre­sent­ed the plan close to 70 times via Zoom,” says Pfin­gst, and the feed­back was over­whelm­ing­ly pos­i­tive and constructive.”

Webi­nar par­tic­i­pants also helped to iden­ti­fy blind spots in offi­cial data. For exam­ple, the U.S. Cen­sus Bureau does not col­lect data on gen­der iden­ti­ty, under­min­ing efforts to mea­sure pover­ty rates in the LGBTQ com­mu­ni­ty. Infor­ma­tion on pover­ty among peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties is also lim­it­ed. There are peo­ple who just aren’t well rep­re­sent­ed in the data,” says Pfin­gst, and they need to be visible.”

The revised 70-page plan, released in Jan­u­ary 2021, pro­pos­es eight pover­ty-reduc­tion strate­gies and 60 spe­cif­ic rec­om­men­da­tions for gov­ern­ment agen­cies, leg­is­la­tors, com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and foun­da­tions. Cen­tered on racial equi­ty, the plan dis­cuss­es the root caus­es of pover­ty and the urgent needs of the state’s 1.75 mil­lion chil­dren, adults and fam­i­lies who are cur­rent­ly strug­gling to make ends meet.

A Liv­ing Document

Results Count method­olo­gies are par­tic­u­lar­ly evi­dent in the 10-year plan’s Action Toolk­it, an imple­men­ta­tion guide for pub­lic, pri­vate and non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions. The tool kit is designed to help organizations:

  • under­stand how their work aligns with the plan’s eight strategies;
  • dis­ag­gre­gate data as much as possible;
  • ana­lyze dis­ag­gre­gat­ed data with the peo­ple it represents;
  • set spe­cif­ic goals and define success;
  • iden­ti­fy addi­tion­al resources and part­ner­ships needed;
  • devel­op equi­table strate­gies to achieve stat­ed goals;
  • cre­ate an action plan with defined roles, respon­si­bil­i­ties and a timeline;
  • track progress and change strate­gies as needed;
  • be account­able and learn from mis­takes; and
  • cel­e­brate wins.

The work group calls the 10-year plan a liv­ing, breath­ing doc­u­ment” and intends to revis­it the text annu­al­ly to refine its strate­gies and recommendations.

The work group’s plan and action tool kit are impres­sive, much-need­ed con­tri­bu­tions that can help fuel equi­table, mea­sur­able progress in reduc­ing pover­ty,” says Bar­bara Squires, direc­tor of Lead­er­ship Devel­op­ment at the Casey Foun­da­tion. Equal­ly remark­able: The plan’s engage­ment with the very peo­ple most affect­ed by pover­ty can help them dri­ve the change they need and want to see.”

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