LINC PROJECTS

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Using Colorado Longitudinal Data to Address Food Insecurity and Support Equity in
Postsecondary Education and Training

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Economic Security

Colorado state agencies and postsecondary institutions are looking for ways to expand student participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to ensure that students receive nutritional support, and to advance equity in postsecondary education. This project will inform Colorado’s efforts to increase college attainment by supporting students’ needs for food and related human services. Specifically, the project team will examine current and historical rates of SNAP application and participation among college students, and variation in SNAP participation across institutions and student characteristics. These analyses will provide a benchmark for a quantitative simulation of how SNAP participation might change under several different approaches to expanding SNAP participation. They also will help to characterize participation rates at postsecondary institutions that are implementing basic needs services to increase SNAP participation.

Building a Sustainable and Replicable Approach to Estimate Youth Homelessness Using the Linked Information Network of Colorado - Phase 2 Statewide

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Education
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families

  • Metro Denver Homeless Initiative & Continuums of Care

This is the second phase of work on a larger HUD-funded project to estimate the prevalence of youth homelessness. The goal of this phase is to explore the characteristics of youth experiencing homelessness including educational, child welfare, and juvenile justice experiences using the identified population from the first phase of work. By further exploring the characteristics and experiences of youth who experience homelessness, we hope to aid partner organizations in better identifying and serving this population. 

Phase I of this project was a pilot that connected Metro-Denver Homeless Initiative, Trails Child Welfare, and Denver Public Schools data, which informed this proposed project. Specifically, we learned that each of those local data sets substantially contributed to the estimates (i.e., there was not a lot of overlap in the youth identified for each system). 

Exploration of Poverty-related Characteristics Associated with Disproportional Child Welfare Involvement

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families

  • Metro Denver Homeless Initiative & Continuums of Care

The purpose of this project is to create a more comprehensive description of the experiences and characteristics of individuals living in poverty and whether certain experiences and characteristics serve as risk or protective factors for child welfare involvement. This information will be used to inform a state-level strategy for policy and practice improvements with the goal of mitigating risk for child welfare involvement.

QRIS Validation Study

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) has contracted with the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver to conduct an evaluation assessing whether the revised Colorado Shines Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) framework has the right standards in place to measure quality and to identify opportunities for improvement of the framework. To complement the collection of primary data from stakeholder groups (e.g., families,providers, coaches, quality navigators, QRIS rating/verification team), the Butler team will use this LINC project to understand how the QRIS quality indicators relate to early care and education (ECE) workforce outcomes that should be improved (e.g., higher wages, lower turnover) when programs move up in quality. This will inform CDEC’s consideration of where to improve the QRIS system to ensure it is effectively supporting programs to make quality improvements that matter most.

Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) Stimulus Policy Evaluation

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood

Working in partnership with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab (Colorado Lab), Brodsky Research and Consulting (BRC) is leading the evaluation of Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) policy stimulus-funded activities. This project isaimed at learning how particular policies, funded by stimulus funds, were implemented in The Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), as well as the implications and perception of these policies by key stakeholders. Specific policies of focus are increased absence policy for preschool-age children, enrollment-based payment policy for infants and toddlers, increased provider rates, decreased family co-payments, and expanded family eligibility. This LINC project will be examining changes to CCCAP enrollment, participation, and utilization by both providers and families (comparing before-policy-implementation to after-policy-implementation). Findings from this evaluation will be shared with state decision makers in order to inform any necessary adjustments to these policies moving forward.

The Colorado Teacher Salary Increase Pilot

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Economic Security
  • Colorado Department of Labor & Employment

The Colorado Teacher Salary Increase Pilot provided a higher wage to lead and assistant teachers working in Colorado child care centers where at least 40 percent of children served are receiving Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) subsidies. Given that funding was not available to serve all teachers, a subset of eligible centers was randomly selected to receive the funds for the wage increase. The wage increase will be evaluated to assess its effects on Early Care and Education (ECE) teacher recruitment, retention, and economic well-being.

 The program’s goal is to help understand the effects of supplying livable wages for ECE teachers, including the potential implication for a “cliff effect,” meaning the financial loss when a wage increase results in reduced eligibility for public assistance programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The outcomes of the program will help inform whether and how changes in public funding streams may be made to help Colorado’s ECE centers pay teachers livable wages, and how these funding streams might interact with other public assistance funding streams.

A Comprehensive Look at Colorado’s Early Care and Education Workforce (Phase IV)

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Economic Security

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Colorado Department of Labor & Employment

Building on three prior phases of work, this project continues to respond to the state’s need for reliable data on the Early Care and Education (ECE) workforce to inform strategic recruitment and retention investments. This phase seeks to expand further on these efforts by incorporating updated data to remain responsive to the changing policy and economic landscapes.

In addition, this phase seeks to incorporate new public assistance data from Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to further contextualize the experience of the ECE workforce. It is not currently known how much this particular workforce population depends on critical public assistance programs to make ends meet financially. It is also not certain whether these ECE workforce professionals access these benefits programs when they are eligible.

Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC): Evaluation of the Interdisciplinary Representation Model

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families

  • Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC)

To continuously strengthen their work to protect the fundamental right to parent, the Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel (ORPC) partnered with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab (Colorado Lab) to build evidence for the interdisciplinary team model of parent representation. Together, the ORPC and the Colorado Lab are moving the model through the Steps to Building Evidence. As part of the evidence-building strategy, the project team will focus on a preliminary exploration of outcomes of the interdisciplinary team model using LINC, including who receives interdisciplinary team representation and understanding the value of interdisciplinary team representation for case outcomes around keeping kids safely at home. This work aligns with federal and state priorities and illustrates the value of the interdisciplinary model from a system and legislative perspective.

The Impact of Pay Transparency in Job Postings on the Labor Market

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

The goal of this project is to evaluate the labor market impact of Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act. In particular, the researchers are interested in understanding how wages and employment responded to the requirement that all online job postings must include salary information starting January 2021. There will be a particular focus on recent graduates and enrollees at Colorado-based higher education institutions.

The results of this project would help policymakers in Colorado and elsewhere forecast the effects of increasing pay transparency, improve enforcement of pay transparency laws, and provide empirical evidence on the benefits of giving college graduates clear information on the expected salaries in different careers.

The Degree-Attainment and Labor-Market Effects of Reverse Transfer

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

Reverse transfer allows students who transferred from a Colorado two-year institution to a four-year institution to combine credits and apply them toward an associate degree. Colorado Re-Engaged Initiative (CORE), enacted into law as part of HB21-1330, expanded the reverse transfer program to the entire university population by allowing any four-year student (even those who did not begin at a two-year institution) to apply for an associate’s degree after accumulating enough credit hours. This project will answer the below questions in an effort to help policymakers and higher-education officials forecast the likely effects of CORE and adjust its implementation in order to maximize net benefits for students.

 

  • What are the degree-attainment and labor-market effects of reverse transfer programs?
  • How effective is reverse-transfer eligibility in raising associate’s degree attainment for students who otherwise would have left higher education without any credential at all?
  • How beneficial are these additional associate’s degrees to students’ long-run employment status and labor earnings?
  • How extensive are any diversionary effects of reverse-transfer eligibility
  • How many students who otherwise would have successfully obtained a bachelor’s degree are induced by the reverse transfer program to leave higher education with only an associate’s degree?

An Improved Look at Colorado’s Early Care and Education Workforce

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment

This project will produce comprehensive, streamlined, quality data on the early care and education (ECE) workforce able to inform high-priority policy decisions. This builds upon an earlier LINC project that exclusively examined data within the CDHS Office of Early Childhood data systems. While these data greatly improved our knowledge on the ECE workforce, there remained significant gaps in knowledge critical for understanding sector differences and informing the rollout of the recently-funded universal Pre-K effort. The current LINC project will integrate key information from new LINC partners to fill in the data gaps identified in the previous work, including:

  • Post-secondary pathways pursued by prospective and working ECE professionals
  • Turnover within the ECE field and where professionals go when they leave the field
  • Compensation by ECE professional roles and disparities by key subgroups

This work will result in a refreshed annual ECE Workforce Snapshot Report, an updated ECE workforce data dashboard, and the piloting of My Colorado Journey pathways for prospective ECE professionals.

Youth at Risk of Homelessness, Phase 3

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families

The Federal Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning Research, and Evaluation is funding a multi-state evaluation of interventions designed to prevent homelessness among youth exiting foster care. This LINC project seeks to evaluate the Colorado Pathways to Success program that provides a comprehensive service model, an intensive, coach-like case management model for youth and young adults in foster care.

This project has multiple phases and anticipates expanding to include data from other LINC partners to evaluate youth outcomes such as homeless services, labor and employment records, and higher education records. This first phase of work will connect the research study data collected through surveys with child welfare records to assess baseline information for youth enrolled in the study in the early months of recruitment and to obtain a statewide look at the descriptive picture of youth in foster care who would be eligible for the Colorado Pathways to Success program.

The subsequent phases of the research study to examine youth outcomes will be accomplished annually through December 2026.

Crossover Youth

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Colorado Judicial Branch

Crossover youth are the young people with two types of court cases: (1) dependency and neglect and (2) juvenile justice. Using LINC, the crossover youth project will connect child welfare and court system records to help meet federal reporting requirements and inform policies and practices aimed at serving crossover youth. This LINC project will yield:

  • Demographic and geographic descriptions (e.g., age, gender, race/ethnicity, judicial district, county).
  • Point-in-time and annual numbers of youth in congregate care with a dependency & neglect (D&N) case, delinquency case, or both; clear information on why youth are in out-of-home care at a given point in time.
  • Point-in-time and annual numbers of youth in family-like placements with a D&N case, delinquency case, or both.

This work will inform the implementation of the federal Family First Prevention Services Act and Colorado SB 18-154 Crossover Youth Plans.

Building a Sustainable and Replicable Approach to Estimate Youth Homelessness

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Metro Denver Homeless Initiative
  • Denver Public Schools

LINC is supporting a project to estimate homelessness among youth ages 14-24 by connecting data from multiple state and local systems. The first phase of work involved a descriptive analysis of linked local and state administrative data in the Denver area and will be used to better understand the extent to which these systems identify and serve Denver’s youth homelessness population. The research team used 5 years of longitudinal data to describe the characteristics and experiences associated with homelessness. This project is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted in partnership with the Center for Policy Research.

The next phase of this work will focus on using the approach of the Denver project at a statewide level. The researchers will also expand the Denver project to look at characteristics of youth experiencing homelessness. The project team will develop a Best Practice Guide for using integrated administrative data sources to produce rigorous and efficient estimates of youth homelessness.

Project Materials

Research Brief

Colorado Community Response

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Economic Security
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
Using LINC, the Colorado Department of Human Services’ Office of Early Childhood (OEC) is partnering with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab to link data from the Colorado Community Response (CCR) program and child welfare with that from other systems. CCR is a voluntary prevention program that provides services to families who are reported for child abuse or neglect but whose circumstances do not rise to the level of child welfare service involvement. The goals of this LINC project include:

  1. Identifying financial predictors of child maltreatment that may indicate CCR as an appropriate intervention.
  2. Examining cross-system financial outcomes for caregivers in an ongoing rigorous evaluation of CCR.

This work will inform OEC’s ability to identify caregiver’s in financial distress before they come to the attention of child welfare and will build the evidence base around CCR to inform program improvement and potential expansion.

Prevention of Homelessness Among Youth in Foster Care

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative

This LINC project came from the leadership of human services in the state and a deep commitment to preventing future homelessness among youth aging out of the foster care system. 

I saw a real value in connecting child welfare and homelessness data that could help us point to potential prevention tactics in human services and knew that the Colorado Lab and LINC could help us with this.

Jerene Petersen

former Executive Director, Colorado Department of Human Services

This priority project inspired the onboarding of the Metro Denver Homelessness Initiative as a LINC partner so the state could have a view into the intersection of child welfare and homeless experiences in the largest metro area of the state. An initial analysis of these data shows that a sizeable proportion of adults experiencing homelessness had previous involvement in the child welfare system, indicating that further study of potential prevention strategies may be fruitful.

Project Materials

Characteristics of Youth Formerly in Foster Care Who Experienced Homelessness as Young Adults

Rapid Response for Denver Runaway Youth: A Pay for Success Project

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Denver Police Department
  • Savio House

Denver Collaborative Partnership is taking an upstream preventative approach to serving youth who run away and their families. A rapid response team is meeting the youth and families where they are and connecting them to evidence-based services (e.g., Multi-Systemic Therapy, Functional Family Therapy) aimed at preventing juvenile justice involvement and the need for out-of-home care. The Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab conducted an evaluation of this effort funded by Pay for Success and used LINC to connect the appropriate data for the baseline information on youth involved in the evaluation.

Project Materials

Background Report on Rapid Response Pay for Success Project

Prenatal Substance Use and Improving Family Health

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment – Vital Records
  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Children, Youth, and Families
  • Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (anticipated in phase II)

In 2019, the Colorado state legislature passed Senate Bill 19-228 to address the opioid crisis and authorized a LINC project focused on understanding the prevalence of perinatal substance exposure and identifying prevention opportunities within and outside of healthcare systems. This demand for knowledge refocused the LINC leadership team’s energy toward addressing a common data sharing barrier—utilizing information on substance use and treatment for research and evaluation purposes without disclosing sensitive personal information. The LINC team sought and received guidance from the Center of Excellence for Protected Health Information, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, on how LINC can receive such data for approved projects. LINC is now implementing this guidance and is able to onboard data partners who would like to better understand issues related to substance use and prevention.

Project Materials

Perinatal Substance Use Data Linkage Project: Multi-Year Strategic Research Agenda

2021 Legislative Report

Policy Brief: Plans of Safe Care to Support Families Impacted by Perinatal Substance Use Disorders

Phase One Supplemental: Maternal & Infant Mortality in the First Year of Life

SB19-228: Colorado Perinatal Substance Use Data Linkage Project Two-Pager

Part One: Prenatal Substance Use and Improving Family Health

SB19-228 Legislative Report

Colorado’s First Statewide View into the Early Care and Education Workforce

 

Data Partner(s):

  • Colorado Department of Human Services – Office of Early Childhood
  • Colorado Department of Higher Education (anticipated in phase II)
  • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (anticipated in phase II)

Governor Jared Polis holds a strong commitment to expanding quality pre-K opportunities for young children and recognizes that a high-quality early care and education (ECE) workforce is essential to fulfilling this goal. The state had no centralized information on the ECE workforce to guide its plans to roll out investments, such as the size of the workforce, where teacher shortages existed, qualifications earned by educators, and recruitment and turnover rates. Using LINC, the Office of Early Childhood was able to partner with the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab to connect data from the state’s workforce registry, background check, and early care provider systems to produce the first comprehensive look at the ECE workforce in Colorado. These data are now available in an interactive dashboard and a statewide snapshot report that will be routinely updated. 

Access to these data has been critical for us. The dashboard is already informing the Governor’s Education and Workforce Cabinet Working Group’s goal to improve the ECE workforce to ensure all young children have an opportunity to succeed before they enter kindergarten.

Scott Groginsky

Governor Polis’s Special Advisor for Early Childhood

A second phase LINC project is in development that will propose to add wage data as well as data on post-secondary pathways from the Colorado Departments of Labor and Employment and Higher Education.

Project Materials

Colorado’s Early Care & Education Workforce: Data Project Brief

Colorado’s Early Care and Education Professionals: 2019 Snapshot Report

 Colorado Early Care and Education Workforce Data Dashboard

Connecting Data to Solve Real-World Problems

For questions and inquiries, contact val@coloradolab.org

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