In 2011 HZA agreed to design, develop and implement a web-based case management tool for the Federation. The original purpose of Pyramid was to record client intake data, but soon the Federation realized it wanted to capture discharge data, as well. Ultimately, the system was built to track all of the Federation’s data requirements, including direct contacts, protective factors, contact information, demographics, strengths, risks and family plans. A reporting module was incorporated within the system for ease of monitoring. At present, Pyramid is a complete web-based case management system used by multiple agencies for two programs, Family Navigation and Family Peer Support. HZA also operates a HELP DESK to support Pyramid users.
Evaluation of Family Helpline, Family Navigator and Right Turn
HZA evaluated three programs newly funded by the legislature: the Nebraska Family Help Line which responds to families with children with behavioral health concerns; the Family Navigator program which provides support to families over a three-month period to access behavioral health and informal peer support services; and Right Turn, the post-adoption program which provides support and services to families who have adopted children who manifest behavioral problems. The services were contracted to providers such as Father Flannigan’s Boys Town, Lutheran Social Services and the Nebraska Federation of Families all of whom provided data downloads for the evaluation. As part of the service, HZA created a dashboard so legislators and members of the public could track the volume of services rendered, the characteristics of the children and families seeking services, and the outcomes produced.
Follow-up Evaluation of Child Welfare Privatization
In 2014 the Nebraska State Legislature specifically sought out HZA to conduct an assessment of the State’s child welfare privatization initiative. This assessment was a follow-up to an initial study conducted in 2012 by HZA and a partner agency, the Center for the Support of Families. The goal of the initial study was to evaluate DHHS and the Nebraska Families Collaborative (NFC) to determine which agency, if either, was better suited to handle case management services in the state. The follow-up assessment aimed to answer a more fundamental question: Does privatization work in Nebraska? Specifically, are the outcomes better for children and families and are the costs of privatization more or less than if the State assumed all responsibility? To conduct this assessment, HZA compared DHHS and NFC on four domains of child welfare case management: compliance with laws and policy, family engagement, outcomes and cost. Ultimately, HZA concluded that the outcomes achieved for children and families by NFC were no better or worse than those produced by DHHS. When one did well, so did the other and vice versa. That is because each agency operates under the same policy requirements and budget, leaving little room for variation.
As part of an evaluation of three related pilot programs funded by the legislature (the Nebraska Family Help Line which responds to families with children with behavioral health concerns, the Family Navigator program which helps families access behavioral health and informal peer support services and Right Turn which provides support and services to families who have adopted children or who have become their legal guardians), HZA developed a web-based dashboard for use both inside and outside the agency. Users were able to track the volume of services rendered, the characteristics of the children and families and the outcomes produced. Moreover, the dashboard allowed users to view the results for individual counties, for geographic regions and for the state as a whole.