Communities around the country are struggling to keep up with the challenges their youth and families are facing. While nearly every community is facing severe budget cuts for youth and family services, the needs within those communities remain high. Right now, millions of our children and young people lack the prerequisites for success, such as strong education and adequate health care and nutrition.
The challenges posed by decreasing budgets are intensified by the lack of data regarding which programs and services are effective in improving child and youth outcomes, leaving many communities without a reliable roadmap for addressing such urgent problems as school dropouts, teen childbearing, and substance abuse. In many cases communities lack three key components needed to accurately analyze the effectiveness of community-based programs and organizations:
· Lack of aggregate data regarding the actual strengths and needs of children and youth in their communities;
· A lack of focused expertise about evidence-based approaches to issues facing youth and families, and
· Lack of information on how to implement effective community-based solutions
"Our nation's communities are facing a crisis," said Dave Sikes, director of allocations with Lake Area United Way, the largest United Way in Indiana. "It's not that we don't know what needs to be done; it's that the problems are so large. We need to be able to focus on the actions we can take at the community level that can significantly impact the lives of our youth and families."
An integrated approach leads to evidence-based decisions
The collaboration will provide an integrated approach to addressing the three key needs of communities with regard to their programs for children, youth, and families. First, Search Institute will provide their Developmental Assets Profile as an integrated component of nFocus Software's Participant Management and Outcome Measurement Software. "We are thrilled to offer the Developmental Assets Profile through nFocus Software's TraxSolutions. Rather than assessing the deficits of young people as most assessments do, the Developmental Assets Profile reports the strengths of teenagers," said Dr. Peter Benson, CEO of Search Institute.
The Developmental Assets Profile provides a quick, flexible, 360 degree self-report of how a young person is faring personally, socially, and within the family, school, and community contexts. Through this strength-based focus, the assessment helps communities engage young people in an educational and constructive process.
With access to accurate data regarding the youth and families in their communities, Child Trends will assist community leaders in analyzing project data at all levels, identify evidence-based and evidence-informed approaches to address a community's critical issues, and work with community-based programs to implement proven and promising interventions effectively. "Child Trends is delighted to work with nFocus Software and Search Institute to help communities use data and research to understand and meet the needs of vulnerable children and youth," said Carol Emig, president of Child Trends. "This is an exciting opportunity for us to advance our mission of improving outcomes for children, and we look forward to working closely with our partners and with communities to do so."
Ananda Roberts, president of nFocus Software, called this new alliance "groundbreaking." She said, "This will completely change the way communities collect and analyze performance data. This partnership is a unique blend of research, software, and analysis that will produce real change for our nation's children and families."
Founded in 1979, Child Trends (www.childtrends.org) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center that studies children at all stages of development. Its mission is to improve outcomes for children by providing research, data, and analysis to the people and institutions whose decisions and actions affect children, including program providers, the policy community, researchers, educators, and the media.
Search Institute® (www.search-institute.org) is the leading innovator in discovering what children and adolescents need to become caring, healthy, and responsible adults. The institute conducts research, communicates new knowledge, and brings together community, state, and national leaders. At the heart of the institute's work is the framework of the 40 Developmental Assets®, which are positive experiences and personal qualities that all young people need to succeed. Search Institute is an independent, nonprofit, nonsectarian organization whose mission is to provide leadership, knowledge, and resources to promote healthy children, youth, and communities.
Founded in 1994, nFocus Software (www.nfocus.com) is a world leader in performance management software for high-impact public sector organizations. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower organizations to track, manage, and measure their performance through effective outcome measurement. TraxSolutions® is a registered trademark of nFocus Software in the United States and/or other countries. The names of companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2013