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Thank you to Mark Weller and Aimee Dube for the excellent presentation regarding how they’ve set up a data collection system across their network of 17 Family Resource Centers using the Protective Factors Survey (PFS). The following captures key points.

What prompted the decision to use the PFS:
• They had been utilizing an excel spreadsheet with about 95 data elements and realized this was cumbersome and not demonstrating outcomes with clarity
• The intent was to streamline data collection for everyone and reduce costs
• The PFS was already being used among a core of FRC collaborative partners
• The FRC Network wanted to use a “real-time” data collection tool that demonstrated what FRCs do and the benefit to FRC service participants
• The PFS is user-friendly and minimally invasive for service participants

The process to set up the data system required informing funders, partners, and the FRC network of the intended systems change around how data was being collected, building agreement among these entities regarding use of the PFS and methods for data collection, utilization of a data systems workgroup to work through details, expertise to develop the new data collection system, and time (two years) to sort through all the elements required to bring the new system to fruition.

The data system is open source, based on utilization of Google docs as the platform. This approach enables all partners to have access to the data, and it generates reports that can be formatted using charts, bar graphs and visuals that are easy to understand. Key advantages to using the Google docs platform are minimal cost and it’s non-proprietary. However, it does require someone with tech savvy to set up the system.

Key lessons learned: perfect synchrony in making systems change is not possible, nor is it necessary to move a complex project forward; it does require keeping everyone involved apprised of developments and able to provide on-going input to the process. Systems change takes time, commitment and a pivot from the past way of doing things to a new approach.

Networking Comments and Reflections: Attendees gave examples of data they currently collect as PFS, play group data, homeless info, and program/service referral data provided to funders. Challenges to data collection discussed included confidentiality concerns, setting up MOU agreements, maintaining a focus on family strengthening, difficulty in measuring complex issues such as trauma impacts, intergenerational issues, varying cultural approaches, unwillingness to share data among some entities, no common data repository in which countywide data can be gathered, there’s generally pressure to report only positive data and quickly; however all data is informative and can increase understanding of the population served and relevant issues. Resource Guides are always needed and difficult to keep current as information is ever-changing. Attendees indicated they were energized/inspired by the potential in this approach for partnership, especially among FRC partners; others mentioned they were already thinking of how their partners could set-up a data collection system using the PFS; and some indicated they could apply the open-source approach within their organization. The opportunity and potential for greater alignment between Strategies 2.0 and First 5 was noted by several First 5 attendees.

Presenter Contact Information: Mark Weller:; Aimee Dube: 

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