What’s on the mind of Strategy Leaders? A Look Ahead at 2014

I facilitated a dialogue Jan. 21, 2014 with Alliance member strategy leaders from across the country. During the session, leaders voiced their perspective and commentary on strategic priorities for 2014. What are the opportunities and the challenges that you as strategy leader see as we begin 2014?


From the perspective of Dave Paxton, chief strategy officer at The Village Network in Smithville Ohio, neuroloscience is changing the industry related to how nonprofits provide services. Based on Dr. Bruce Perry’s Child Trauma Academy (CTA), Ohio is supporting this concept. It is only funding agencies using this model and requests that The Village Network provide statewide training in CTA.

To understand the paradigm shift that CTA is creating, this analogy may be useful. Just as when an instructor is teaching an adult to speak a foreign language by meeting with him or her one hour every week, the process will extend over a very long period. Yet, this is how social service schedules their work with traumatized children—meeting with them once a week and expecting that this is enough to change the child. A major activity of CTA is to translate emerging findings about the human brain and child development into practical implications for the ways we nurture, protect, enrich, educate, and heal children. The translational neuroscience work of the CTA has resulted in a range of innovative programs in therapeutic, child protection and educational systems.

Another neuroscience study is Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE), one of the largest investigations conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being. The New York City Administration for Children's Services (ACS) has contracted with providers to implement evidence-based practices throughout the child welfare system.

Evidence-Based Practices

David DeStafano, chief strategy officer at Kid’s Central in Ocala Fla., is implementing evidenced Based Practice (EBP) within his organization. Kids Central is looking closely at the data around who is coming for the organization's services, who is coming back, and why are they coming back.

Belinda Conway, chief strategy officer of Leake and Watts Services in Yonkers N.Y., is also implementing models of EBP. Functional Family Therapy-Child Welfare is an adaptation of the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) model. The adaptation was developed with FFT and New York Foundling Hospital to better meet the needs of families being served in the New York City Child Welfare System. Leake and Watts is in the first year of implementing this home-based program.

Family Connections is another home-based EBP program including preventive services program developed by the University of Maryland’s Social Work School. Leake and Watts is in their first year of implementing this program.

Parent Child Home is an intervention that promotes literacy and school readiness for parents of preschoolers. Paraprofessional home visitors visit families and model how to promote learning through reading and play. This has been successful.

The National Implementation Research Network is a helpful website for anyone contemplating developing evidence-based programs. Alison Metz from the University of North Carolina is a consultant to ACS.

How did you approach managing staff morale and resistance to change?
Conducting focus groups with families was very insightful. David DeStafano is finding that when using EBP, fidelity to the model is key, and that the financial investment is significant, for them about $1.5 million.

How are you managing this change and did you have a plan for change management or did you figure it out as you implemented the EBPs?
Kid’s Central was unique in that culture change extended to subcontracting organizations. We began by building morale and conducting serious conversations with staff about choosing an EBP, what they were satisfied with, what were their suggestions were.

What would you do differently if you had it to do all over?
We would change the timeline in expediting the selection process, getting the funding in place, and work toward better communication within the organization.

How does one get started in changing key metrics, reporting metrics, what kind of changes are important to make to avoid getting to analytical and be systemic in crossing over to new metrics?
Paxton stated that beginning with a logic model in identifying outcomes and developing metrics was key to their success. Belinda chimed in to say that involving staff for buy-in and then evaluate and get feedback from them was essential in introducing change.

According to Jean Solomon, vice president of integrated health care at Alliance member The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, her organization is focusing on the Affordable Care Act and collaborating with health care institutions to figure it out.

Involvement includes executive leadership and operations such as information technology, outcome management, and learning to function in a value base environment. On the clinical side at the state level, they are developing health outcomes and integrated care projects.

We are doing a measurement overhaul and I am interested in how people have aligned measurement to your core strategies and strategy messages? 
The Core Capacity Assessment Tool has been a very useful tool for The Village Network. Results indicated a gap between values and service delivery. This became an opportunity to acquire valuable feedback from staff that resulted in renewed energy. A lesson learned is that one cannot assume that the organizational mission is primary with all staff.

Ray Chung, chief strategy officer at Alliance member Neighborhood Centers Inc. in Houston, referred to the appreciative inquiry approach that they are utilizing throughout their organization. Among the links below is a training workshop that Laura Timme, director of youth, adults & community engagement at Alliance member University Settlement in New York, has conducted, plus other references to this model. Timme was named a 2011 New Voices Civic Engagement Fellow for her work with Neighborhood Centers Inc.

Presentation Materials - Appreciative Inquiry
Appreciative Inquiry - What is it?
Center for Appreciative Inquiry

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