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Lessons from the Field: Using Continuous Quality Improvement to Refine Interventions for Youth at Risk of Homelessness

February 4, 2020
Topics:
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care, Youth Services
Projects:
Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), 2013-2024 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Cover of "Lessons from the Field: Using Continuous Quality Improvement to Refine Interventions for Youth at Risk of Homelessness."
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  • File Size 475kb
  • Pages 4
  • Published 2020

Introduction

Continuous quality improvement (CQI) is a process for enhancing the operation and performance of a program or practice through regularly collecting and analyzing data and identifying and testing change strategies. In this brief, local evaluators working with two agencies, Alameda County, California, and the Colorado Department of Human Services, describe how their teams used CQI to learn from the initial implementation of model interventions designed to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults who have been involved in the child welfare system. The two agencies received grants as part of a multi-phase grant program referred to as Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), which is funded by the Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). The experience of the two grantees highlights the importance of thoughtful reporting, strong partnerships, and a willingness to apply CQI findings to improve program operations and outcomes.

Research Questions

  1. 1 How did grantees design their CQI processes? What are the key features of these processes?
  2. 2 How has the CQI process affected the development and operation of grantees’ interventions
  3. 3 What advice do grantees have for other organizations that may use CQI for interventions serving transition-age youth at risk of homelessness?

Purpose

Youth and young adults with child welfare involvement face significant challenges in their transition to adulthood, challenges that increase their risk of becoming homeless. The Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families developed a multiphase grant initiative for planning, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive service models intended to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement.

This brief is part of a series that shares strategies used by organizations that serve youth and young adults who have been involved in the child welfare system and are at risk of homelessness. Collecting and sharing these lessons with organizations that have similar missions is one step in building an evidence base on how to meet the needs of this population. The brief describes key features of two agencies’ CQI processes, identifies how CQI helped the agencies refine interventions for youth, and offers general advice for other organizations that are interested in using CQI processes to improve interventions serving youth.

Key Findings and Highlights

  • CQI supports the agencies in tracking the initial implementation of their intervention, ongoing monitoring of fidelity to the intervention model, and assessing the results of adjustments to the intervention model.
  • Each agency uses a data system to collect and present activity and outcome data at monthly meetings of key stakeholders and program partners. This process helps these teams identify implementation challenges and develop and test adaptations to address the challenges.
  • Building strong relationships, anticipating communication needs, and solidifying buy-in among partners and stakeholders are essential to implementing the CQI system effectively.

Methods

Local evaluators working with two Children’s Bureau grantees responded to a set of questions regarding the CQI process they developed and implemented with grantee teams.

Recommendations

  • Bring all partners to the table early, generate reliable data, and use a CQI process to encourage regular, evidence-driven discussions among the partners from the start.
  • Anticipate needs for reporting to key stakeholders. Share findings with project partners and have ongoing discussions about what the results mean.
  • Don’t be afraid to make changes to an intervention based on CQI findings.

Citation

Davis, Lanae and Laura Packard Tucker. (2020). Using Continuous Quality Improvement to Refine Interventions for Youth at Risk of Homelessness. OPRE Report Number 2020-03. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

CQI
Continuous Quality Improvement
OPRE
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
YARH
Youth At Risk of Homelessness, acronym used to represent the initiative funded by ACF to support communities in addressing homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement
Last Reviewed: February 4, 2020