Developing Capacity for Growth and Excellence at a Private Family Service Agency

Necco is a private child-, youth-, and family-serving company that provides foster care services to clients in four states: Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia, and Georgia. In some jurisdictions it offers independent living services, behavioral health services, residential and outpatient services for individuals with developmental disabilities, and an alternatives to detention program. In the fall of 2012, Necco engaged researchers at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to develop the company’s administrative data resources into research evidence to build knowledge about their program performance and to assess Necco’s efforts to further develop organizational capacity for continuous quality improvement (CQI).

What We Did

Through a combination of organizational surveys, staff interviews, and analytic file development and CQI support, Chapin Hall researchers: evaluated Necco’s capacity for research evidence use, helped establish baseline performance metrics, and assessed its culture for quality improvement. We compiled our findings, recommendations, and follow-up actions in this Necco Summary Report.

What We Found

  • Capacity for research evidence use: A data audit showed an opportunity for database enhancements, which Necco implemented. Chapin Hall’s team then converted the raw data into analytic files, enabling Necco to acquire research evidence. In order to increase Necco’s capacity to use the analytic files, we also conducted an Advanced Analytics training for staff on best practices in performance measurement.
  • Organizational capacity for learning and growth: A staff survey and interviews showed that Necco is well positioned to learn, grow, and adapt as an organization. Staff indicated that Necco has an inclusive culture, but some respondents noted a resistance to implementing new ideas in some programs.
  • Performance measurement: we worked with Necco to establish baseline performance metrics and compile them in analytic files that they can update and manipulate, and that they can use to compare performance over time to local and national standards.

What It Means

As a result of this analysis, Necco invested in research evidence and quality improvement by enhancing its data collection strategies, developing meaningful performance metrics rooted in best practices, and engaging staff in an advanced analytics training. Using the analytic files Chapin Hall created, Necco now tracks longitudinal performance at the program, managing office, and state levels with ongoing technical assistance from Chapin Hall. Doing so allows it to incorporate outcome measures into company performance monitoring, track program performance over time, and look for trends to identify strengths and areas for improvement. Initial reports show Necco performing at or above local and national benchmarks.

Necco Report Necco Executive Summary