To know whether you are meeting your goals you must gather data. If you don't identify what data is important on the front end, you will end up with no ability to measure your processes or progress on your EBP journey.
In 2014 Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates discussed some of the most important lessons learned in his work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in developing countries. He explained, “In the past year, I have been struck by how important measurement is to improving the human condition. You can achieve incredible progress if you set a clear goal and find a measure that will drive progress toward that goal.”
Work ethic and heart keep offenders on the right track, bring families back together, assist mentally ill offenders with the management of their medications, and enhance public safety daily. That is the good news. The bad news is that we often do not do an adequate job of measuring. The worse news: in some cases, the measurements actually exist, but it is nobody’s job to compile and interpret the data.
Evidence based principles begin with measurement and analysis of data; your data can be turned into evidence too. Measurement has become vital in this process. Policy makers won’t support altruistic goals of helping people without evidence that you are actually helping. This will not be an easy transition for community corrections agencies. Measuring yourself is a scary proposition, but so is the cultural shift within an organization to embracing what is learned vs. “punishing those who make mistakes” that will have to come along for the ride. With that shift, some interventions and practices will be justifiably tossed, but data can also validate much of the hard work and passion of community corrections workers.
How are you doing with your implementation?
It is impossible to do any process research without organized, codified data. Use data to discover what correlates with success. What is the profile of your typical successful client? What makes them different than the unsuccessful client? How do static factors predict outcomes and more importantly what can you or have you done to address these? Which dynamic factors and assessed needs have you successfully treated? Why and how have you been successful? Knowing these answers would certainly help your EBP implementation.
Ideally, every process in a community corrections program directly or indirectly leads to greater offender success. Measuring program results is more than documenting success rates; measuring the intermediate outcomes, the interventions and characteristics that produce that success is more important for making deliberate and informed decisions with your data. But keep in mind, measuring staff performance is just as important as measuring offender performance.
Computers organize and analyze data much better than humans do. Use technology to capture, organize, and analyze your data.
If you are still using pencil and paper, or even a master of spreadsheets, you are probably wasting time and information. Maybe more importantly, you are likely missing opportunities to reduce recidivism in your community.
We've developed our software to make keeping track of your data an easy part of every case manager, supervisor, director and security officer’s day. Click on our software icons below to see how we've implemented the EBP principle measurement in our software.