From 2016 to the present, HZA has developed and maintained case management software for Mississippi Families As Allies (FAA), an organization staffed by family and caregivers whose mission is to help parents of children with emotional and behavioral challenges be partners in their children’s care. The case management system automates typical business functions and captures information on the types of family and community requests received as well as the support and advocacy services provided. The system is used to demonstrate the agency’s achievements, assess the use of staff time and advocate for continued support. HZA developed a comprehensive user’s guide that details how to navigate each module of the system, starting from the point of log in, and includes instructions on how to complete specific functions within the system. HZA completed an internal review of the guide prior to its release to ensure its quality and usability for staff persons in the field. Staff from HZA navigated all components of the system, using only the written guide to learn how to navigate the application. The guide was updated and reviewed again as part of the ongoing testing process completed prior to system launch. Upon completion, information generated by the system can be used to demonstrate the agency’s achievements, modify the use of staff time, and advocate for support.
From 2010 to 2012, as part of a consent decree, HZA was contracted by the Center for the Support of Families, Inc. to conduct a financial assessment for the state of Mississippi to determine the degree to which additional federal funding could be claimed to support child welfare programs. HZA conducted a comprehensive assessment of the practices used to secure Title IV-E funding for maintenance costs, administrative expenditures and training as well as to claim Title XIX for medical-related services. HZA’s recommendations have been tracked by the court monitor to assure state compliance.
A follow-up contract to 2014 allowed HZA to develop several software tools for Mississippi to use in performing both retroactive and on-going claims. These included a Random Moment Sampling (RMS) Calculator to assist DFCS in processing the results from the quarterly Random Moment Sampling (RMS), taking into account recently implemented changes to its RMS process. Using case-specific responses to the RMS, the tool is designed to automate the matching process to MACWIS eligibility statuses to identify the random moment hits or the proportion of time in which RMS participants were involved in federally reimbursable activities performed for Title IV-E clients. HZA also developed a Pre-service Training Calculator to assist the agency to identify the portion of its training hours and activities which satisfy the Title IV-E training criteria. The final tool allows Mississippi to submit retroactive claims for costs incurred before the child was determined to be Title IV-E eligible.
Healthy Homes Mississippi Fatherhood Evaluation
More than half of the families served by the Healthy Homes Mississippi (HHM) program do not have a father in the home. In Mississippi, the proportion of children living in single-parent households is high, about 42 percent, compared to the national average of 32 percent. Many of these fathers have little or no contact with their children. However, a growing body of research shows that children do better when a male caregiver is present. The Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family Foundation and Support, was awarded a federal grant to enhance the HHM program by adding a fatherhood component. HHM provides comprehensive home visiting services to families in at-risk communities to improve maternal and child health; improve family protective factors; improve children’s cognitive, social, and emotional growth; and support healthy parent-child relationships. The evaluation, which began in 2015 and ended in 2017 was conducted by HZA and Mississippi State. It focused on strategies that emphasized the use of research to help guide program planning and implementation. Using a mixed-methods approach, the evaluation involved a comparison of results for programs that have started to use the new fatherhood curriculum to those that have not been trained. A document review, analysis of program participation data, staff survey, and interviews are methods used for the first two years of the project. The HHM evaluation provides outcomes related to the techniques that are effective in engaging fathers; the effectiveness of inclusion of a Fatherhood Coach as part of the program’s support staff; and the structural issues in home visiting that promote or hinder the inclusion of male caregivers. The team will also examine the efficacy in achieving improvement in school readiness of participating families, which is an overarching goal of the program.
Juvenile Reentry Program (JRP) Research and Statistics
From 2016 to 2017 HZA has worked with the Mississippi Department of Human Services to support the Division of Youth Services (DYS) in establishing baseline measures for its Juvenile Reentry Program (JRP). Working in conjunction with the Juvenile Reentry Program Task Force, HZA identified a priority set of positive youth outcomes for youth at Oakley Youth Development Center (OYDC), the sole juvenile correctional institution in the state. The project was conducted in three phases: 1) developed the performance measurement plan including the structure and data to be collected; 2) collected information on three groups (youth at Oakley, youth under community supervision, fully released youth) to test the data collection tools and establish baseline measures; and 3) refined the tools and methods for ongoing use, providing an electronic tool to the agency which can be used in ongoing performance measurement.
On a quarterly basis, the Mississippi Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) submits claims for federal reimbursement for administrative activities carried out for Title IV-E eligible children and candidates for foster care. HZA developed a Random Moment Sampling (RMS) Calculator to assist DFCS in processing the results from the RMS, taking into account recently implemented changes to its process. Developed in Microsoft Access, the RMS Calculator is designed to use MACWIS case and client eligibility data in conjunction with the results of the quarterly Random Moment Sampling. Using case-specific responses to the RMS, the tool is designed to automate the matching process to MACWIS eligibility statuses to identify the random moment hits or the proportion of time in which RMS participants were involved in federally reimbursable activities performed for Title IV-E clients.