Manage, Organize, and Prioritize: How the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services Used SafeMeasures® to Streamline Data Collection and Analysis
Prior to subscribing to SafeMeasures® in late 2012, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ (DJS) data reporting was prone to human error and guesswork: case managers reported their data to unit managers, who reported it to their county supervisors and regional directors, who then attempted to compile the data. But how important were all of the different data elements being collected? Did they impact the youth we are entrusted to serve? Was the data accurate? Could we rely on it to provide guidance for our strategic planning and vision for the future?
The short answer to these questions was: we didn’t know. We did know that the data was not always consistent across our 24 jurisdictions and six regions. Some of the data was duplicative. Some data was critical to the agency, and some not so much. Any performance expectations established by senior and middle management were measured by an internal process that relied heavily on interpretation and guesswork, and resulted in little more than the continual creation of corrective action plans without evidence that they were having an impact on outcomes or performance.
As part of our efforts to streamline data collection and analysis, we explored the concept and deliverables of SafeMeasures and decided that it was the right choice to help DJS “manage, organize, and prioritize” work that needs to be done, which is the theme we have touted throughout our development, launch, and ongoing use of SafeMeasures.
SafeMeasures has made a world of difference at every level of the organization. Initially, many case managers and supervisors were concerned that SafeMeasures would be merely another system to learn and navigate. However, once they saw the utility of SafeMeasures, they bought in rather quickly. The MUW (My Upcoming Work, a visual overview of upcoming tasks) and especially the To-Do List (a calendar-based overview of upcoming tasks) greatly assist case managers. DJS case managers have a lot of responsibilities on their plate, and these tools allow them to take smaller bites and see their completed work noted with green checkmarks (timely) rather than red warnings (overdue). Supervisors have found SafeMeasures helpful for identifying case managers who may need help, as well as for identifying training needs and staffing issues.
At the higher levels of the agency, SafeMeasures provides an equal measure of performance across all jurisdictions and has been very useful in holding all staff, even directors, accountable on key performance indicators (KPIs) for various policy and quality assurance measures. Expectations for work, compliance, and targeted goals are now universal, compared to previous expectations and goals, which tended to vary depending on the specific unit, office, county, or region.
Because SafeMeasures has helped increase the quality of the work on the back end of our systems to ensure that information/data is correct, management can make confident decisions based on reliable, timely data and data trends that can be accessed with a simple mouse click.
The following graphs illustrate the sustained high level of performance across the state at all levels.
Supervisory Review Status as of October 2015
When SafeMeasures was officially implemented in January 2013, compliance for timely supervisory reviews was around 80%. By August 2013, compliance had reached 96%, and it has climbed even higher since then. As the graph illustrates, DJS supervisors have maintained near-perfect compliance.
October 2015 KPI
The KPI graph clearly communicates the agency’s priorities and expectations to all staff. As shown above, DJS staff have met and exceeded almost all goals on these key measures.
Monthly Client Contacts as of October 2015
Depending on a given youth’s supervision level, case managers are required to make up to 12 face-to-face contacts per month. DJS case managers have done a remarkable job meeting these contact requirements. Compliance in the last 18 months has ranged from 94.4% to 98.1%.
This report was implemented in late 2013 with a compliance rate of approximately 55%. Performance increased by 30% in just a couple of months and has remained at or above 90% ever since.
Cory Fink serves as Regional Director for the Maryland Department of Juvenile Service Eastern Shore Region; he has been with the Department of Juvenile Services since 1998 in a variety of roles, beginning as a Spotlight on Schools Probation Officer, Teen Court and Drug Court Program Coordinators, Dorchester County Supervisor, and Assistant Regional Director. His involvement with the Information Technology Users Group led to his selection as project liaison/coordinator with NCCD in bringing SafeMeasures® to Maryland.
As a 20 year veteran Juvenile Correctional Officer and now a Doctoral Student, I found that the most crucial data to collect is the return rate, violent behavior and intervention via, educational attainment etc...While reading how the SafeMeasures has assisted the Maryland Juvenile system streamline data, I have not read the evidence based practice of data, how the data is applied to the recidivism issues, to gang prevention, to education and lack thereof, to curbing the disproportionate minority contact issue. Everything named has to do with data collection, management of data and improving programing. How does SafeMeasures assist in this endeavor?