LINC PROJECTS

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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 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
  • 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
  • Metro Denver Homeless Initiative
  • Denver Police Department
  • 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 will involve 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 will use 5 years of longitudinal data to describe the characteristics and experiences associated with homelessness. This 3-year project is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and conducted in partnership with the Center for Policy Research.

Research questions specific to the first phase include:

  1. What estimates of youth homelessness in the Denver Metro area can be produced when connecting information across the Child Welfare, Denver Public Schools, Denver Police Department, and Metro Denver Homeless Initiative data systems?
  2. What percentage of homelessness estimates in the Denver Metro area were flagged uniquely in the Child Welfare, Denver Public Schools, Denver Police Department, and Metro Denver Homeless Initiative (i.e., unique contributions to estimates and duplication across systems)?
  3. What is the overlap between youth who are flagged in these administrative systems as “runaway” and those that are identified in one or more of these administrative systems as experiencing homelessness in the same or different time periods?

The project team will develop a Best Practice Guide for using integrated administrative data sources to produce rigorous and efficient estimates of youth homelessness.

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. The final report for this project is anticipated in January 2021. 

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 is conducting an evaluation of this effort funded by Pay for Success and is using 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. The first legislative report for Senate Bill 19-228 is anticipated for release at the beginning of 2021.

Project Materials

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 Whitney@ColoradoLab.org 

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