In 2013 the AISP team conducted in-depth interviews at each Network site. These case studies carefully examined the diverse operations across sites, and analyzed how they use and sustain effective integrated data systems (IDS) to produce actionable intelligence for social policy and practice.
The onsite interview with key personnel documented the following topics:
- Securing and maintaining legal agreements
- Establishing governance processes
- Data management and analytic processes
- Economic and political realities to sustain IDS operations
- Exemplary Uses
The interview was structured to specifically address the five important IDS best practice areas—legal issues, ethical considerations, data integration, data quality, and benefit-cost analysis. The resulting case studies highlight best practices and core components of robust IDS sites.
Allegheny County’s Department of Human Services (DHS) launched its data warehouse in 1999 with initial start-up funds from the Human Services Integration Fund (HSIF), a coalition of local foundations that has supported DHS in a wide variety of integration and innovation activities. DHS’s data warehouse serves as a central repository of social services data from almost 30 sources. Integration of these data supports first and foremost, case-level service coordination, but also evaluation, quality improvement, and decision-making related to policy, program planning and system design.
Founded in 2011, the Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence (CIDI) is a research and policy center located in the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York; CIDI reports directly to the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services. As part of the Office of the Mayor, CIDI conducts citywide interagency research to identify areas of service need in the City. To perform research, CIDI collaborates with all Health and Human Service agencies (e.g., Child Welfare and Homeless Services) as well as other City agencies (e.g., New York City Housing Authority and Education) to promote citywide policy change to improve the quality of services to all residents of the City of New York as well as to improve the effectiveness of NYC government. The vision of CIDI is to make data come alive to inspire change.
As an analytic office, the research agenda of CIDI is formulated by the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services as well as all Commissioners of City agencies providing data to CIDI. As opposed to traditional Memoranda of Understanding required to share data, CIDI developed a Transfer Protocol that allows city agencies to share agency data with CIDI in a timely manner upon approval of a project. To ensure the effectiveness of CIDI research results, all projects undertaken by CIDI have a working group with representatives from all data-sharing agencies to help with the design and analysis of the project. In this way, CIDI maintains the integrity of the shared data while providing actionable intelligence to the City of New York and other partners.
Chapin Hall’s Integrated Database on Child and Family Programs in Illinois connects administrative data on social service receipt, child protective services, P-20 education, criminal and juvenile justice, employment, health care, and early childhood programs to provide a comprehensive picture of child and family use of publicly provided or financed service programs. Researchers who use Chapin Hall’s integrated database produce policy briefs and reports for policymakers who are interested in improving the programs that serve children and their families. Currently, the integrated database links data from a variety of agencies, such as the Chicago Public Schools, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Family and Children Services.
Case Western Reserve University’s integrated data system covers children and young adults living in Cuyahoga County beginning with the 1992 birth cohort. Data from numerous agencies are linked at the individual level. Data sources include birth and death certificates, home visiting and early intervention, child care and preschool, early childhood mental health, elevated blood lead, child abuse and neglect investigations, child welfare placements, juvenile justice filings, TANF, SNAP, Medicaid participation, public school student records, homeless services, and jail data. Additional data sources are added as new agencies begin to work with the Center and become interested in seeing their data linked in order to address cross-sector policy issues and program needs.
Several years ago, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the County’s governing body, began an extensive conversation about the effectiveness and costs associated with the programs for the County’s homeless population. Having relied on anecdotal information from case workers for decades, the Board wanted to conduct a robust analysis of the agencies that served the homeless to understand the magnitude of these social services and to assess the most promising approaches to service delivery. The Board approached the County’s Chief Information Office (CIO) and asked if they might be able to provide the data for this study. The CIO told the Board that the agency had these data, but that the data were not organized in a useful way. For years, the CIO had housed these data in agency-specific silos. The Board persisted and asked Manuel Moreno and Halil Toros, two Ph.D. trained policy researchers, to develop an integrated data system to answer their questions about the County’s programs serving the homeless.
The University of South Florida’s integrated data system integrates data across a variety of agencies in order to promote policy-driven research and enhance health and human services’ programs and practices. The Policy and Services Research Data Center (PSRDC) resides within the University of South Florida’s College of Behavioral and Community Sciences under the Department of Mental Health, Law, and Policy and consists of two distinct integrated data systems: the Statewide Data System and the Pinellas County Data Collaborative.
In the early 1970s, Governor John West hired Pete Bailey, an accomplished statistician, to develop a health statistics section to inform policy across the state. The Office was initially a sub-unit of the Governor’s Office, but was eventually moved to the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, which is a multilateral organization that handles the higher functions of South Carolina state government. The governor, a separately elected controller general, a separately elected state treasurer, and finally, the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee direct the Budget and Control Board. For years, the organization served as an advisory group to help answer research questions and guide state-level policy.
In the early 1990s, the organization received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to link patient/client data with administrative data to gain a deeper understanding of what was happening in the health care sector. This grant enabled staff from the Office of Research and Statistics to link these data with a new level of confidence. It also allowed them to demonstrate to agencies how outcomes of critical importance are actually measured in other agency data systems. In other words, these data linkages helped them show the agencies how their program outcomes were tied to program outcomes across other agencies. The grant gave ORS staff a reason to convene partners across a wide array of agencies and the resources to complete the initial demonstrations of the integrated data system (IDS).
The Department of Social and Health Services Research and Data and Analysis Division (RDA) developed and maintains Washington State’s integrated client data bases (ICDB). RDA provides the Department with a central research capacity that produces rigorous, policy-driven analyses of government-funded social and health services in Washington State. RDA’s work offers state officials and taxpayers information necessary to enhance their understanding of service needs, populations and risk factors, costs, and outcomes associated with publicly funded social and health services. RDA’s integrated client data bases makes the division uniquely positioned to conduct in-depth analysis of outcomes for clients who use services from multiple DSHS programs. They are able to make these de-identified data available to local, state, and federal agency staff, the Governor’s office, state legislators, and the general public. The division also houses the Human Research Review Board, which protects the privacy and confidentiality of clients and members of the general public who are subjects in any research project that falls under the jurisdiction of DSHS or the Department of Health (DOH).