June 26, 2023

Q&A with UGA's Carl Vinson Institute of Government, partners for Blueprint for Family First CQI

Since 1927, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government (CVIOG) has been an integral part of the University of Georgia as a public service and outreach unit of the university.

We are excited to announce that CVIOG will be collaborating with DFCS to provide strong, ongoing Continuous Quality Improvement, or CQI, for all Family First evidence-based practices. Robust CQI will allow us to track and analyze strengths and problems in the delivery of evidence-based practices, and to implement and adapt solutions.

Dr. Theresa Wright and evaluation specialist Jamil Sewell, who are leading this work at CVIOG, sat down to give their perspective on the partnership with Family First.

Q: Describe the work you do at the Carl Vinson Institute.

A: For over ninety years, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government has been assisting state and local governments throughout Georgia to become more efficient, effective, and responsive. The Institute of Government meets these needs through technical assistance, training programs, applied research, and technology solutions. Our unit within the Institute of Government provides survey research and evaluation support primarily to state and local governments. Policymakers and practitioners need relevant, data-informed, and timely information as they consider critical issues throughout the state of Georgia. The Institute of Government's evaluation experts, qualitative and quantitative methodologists, survey researchers, and data management and visualization specialists use their expertise to inform policy makers’ decision-making and continuous improvement goals.

Q: What areas of work are you most passionate about? 

A: We are passionate about collaborating with state and local partners as they develop, implement, and assess their practices and programs to, ultimately, improve the lives of those who live and work in Georgia. Much of our work focuses on human and social services that directly impact the mental, physical, and economic well-being of families throughout Georgia. By supporting evidence-driven policies, programs, and services, we help strengthen the important and meaningful work of state and local agencies across Georgia.

Q: Please describe how you will be partnering with DFCS.

A: The Institute of Government team working with the Family First program brings over 10 years of experience supporting evidence-based programs and practices aimed at improving service delivery and outcomes. Our team will be helping ensure that evidence-based programs are being delivered as designed and according to the standards that were used to previously demonstrate their effectiveness. We will also be assisting the Family First team with monitoring and evaluating the short- and long-term outcomes of children and families receiving these services. In addition, we will be supporting the Continuous Quality Improvement process by providing data and analysis to help with decision making and strengthening the implementation of these evidence-based programs. We look forward to collaborating with the state, local, and national Family First partners.

Q: Please describe the types of data you’ll be collecting and the types of things the data will tell us. 

A: We will be collecting data and monitoring implementation around four central areas—

Capacity and Reach. Are there sufficient service providers and therapists in place to provide services to all of the children, youth  and families who need it? Are services starting in a timely manner?

Fidelity. Are evidence-based programs being delivered as they were designed? Are all the required modules or phases being delivered? Are therapists following the process correctly? Do families feel that they are being engaged and helped by the therapists?

Outcomes. Are the children, youth and families served through Family First having improved outcomes? Are families staying together and are instances of neglect decreasing?

Process. Are there programs, practices, and processes in place to achieve these outcomes efficiently and effectively? Are agency staff and service providers making adjustments to program implementation, as needed, to improve service delivery and outcomes? 

Q: What will be your biggest challenge in working with DFCS and what you are most excited about? 

A: While there are always challenges when implementing and evaluating new programs, it is also a great opportunity to build new collaborative approaches and greater capacity for data-informed decision making at all levels of implementation.

Q: How will your work fit into supporting Family First and child welfare system improvement in Georgia?

We will be supporting the collection and analysis of data that will be used to inform short- and long-term decision making to build upon and strengthen the great work already being done in Georgia to support children and families. We will help monitor service delivery to make sure programs are implemented as designed, children, youth and families in need are getting the right services, and those services are improving their lives. For almost a decade, we have been involved in supporting similar community-based programs in juvenile justice. We bring insights from working with those evidence-based programs and look forward to collaborating with the Family First team to support the implementation of similar programs in a child welfare context. 

Q: Anything else you would like to add.

A: We are excited to bring our experience in evaluation and monitoring, as well as our background in working with evidence-based programs, to help support the important work of Family First. We look forward to learning from the wealth of experience from all of the local, state, and national partners supporting this project. 

Related to: