LCCS, as is true for many if not most public child protection agencies, is impression-rich and data-poor. Many people internal and external to the agency have impressions of agency performance, the levels of compliance with agency and external standards, and how the agency is doing with respect to specific expectations. Although data is available in some areas and in relation to some variables, it is not generally available. The systems are simply not in place to capture, store, and retrieve data needed for many important purposes, including self-evaluation. The agency’s ability to consistently use data-driven, fact-based management and decision processes is thus unacceptably limited.
Given this serious data deficit, the agency’s 2001-2003 strategic plan strives, in part, to correct the data problem. As you will see, the plan integrates agency values and primary outcomes with systems development and program focus. For example, emphasis is on the primary values of child safety, permanence, and child well being. The specific, measurable outcomes in relation to each of these values are specified. Although the details for your agency will vary some from what is included here, you will see that LCCS is committed to self-evaluation and to developing the necessary operating capacity to fully self-evaluate. This is essential for continuing value creation and for continuing to meet the expectations of stakeholders within the authorizing environment. The capacity to self-evaluate is not optional. It is, rather, absolutely necessary.
The following is excerpted from sections of the LCCS 2001-2003 strategic plan. You will see the strategies being employed to correct deficits that are unacceptably limiting the agency’s ability to self-evaluate along with correcting other data-related deficits. At the end of the section, you will also see an agency internal grant strategy that is intended to correct or at least reduce a perceived deficit in staff-based program innovation and individual staff opportunity to initiate internal change. (Comments in parentheses are added for the present purpose.)