The Children's Aid Society (CAS), founded in 1853, is one of the country’s oldest and largest youth service agencies. The Society’s programs address every aspect of youth and family life, including academic enrichment, youth development, health, foster care, arts and recreation and emergency assistance. In 1992, The Children’s Aid Society formed a partnership with the New York City Board of Education Community School District 6 and other community agencies to provide youth and family services at IS 218 in Washington Heights. Since then, CAS has established partnerships in eight additional schools in Manhattan and the Bronx.
With multiple funding sources and partnering organizations, CAS faced the dual challenges of tracking a variety of services and meeting diverse reporting and accountability requirements. CAS needed uniform data collection across program areas and sites, while allowing for some variation in service design and purpose. To meet these needs, CAS looked for software that could flexibly model its existing service offerings and that could be modified over time. In addition to flexibility, the client needed software that promoted efficiency in site-level operations, providing benefits to end-users and funders alike.
Working with CAS staff, Cityspan developed a custom management system to track program utilization rates and generate summary reports. We began by creating online equivalents of existing CAS registration and service tracking forms. Youth in-take forms were configured to include detailed demographics, multiple emergency contacts, permissions to pick up, and data fields required by city, state and private funding sources.
A number of features were developed to promote administrative efficiency at the site level. To support record management and communications, print-version participant lists, mail labels and file-folder labels were developed. To facilitate daily data collection, print-version enrollment and attendance sheets were created. A bulk enrollment tool was implemented to allow auto-assignment of youth to activities according to homeroom assignment or demographic characteristics, such as gender and age.
Once the solution's input features were completed, summary reports were developed to meet CAS accountability requirements. The reports include calculations of average daily attendance, sets of absentee profiles, summaries of client demographics and reports of services by content type and location. All reports are configured to calculate statistics at the site level and then sum into a multi-site aggregate. The reports can be generated for any day or date range.
Benefits and Results
The management system has provided significant benefits to individual CAS sites and the initiative as a whole. For program sites, the software facilitates day-to-day tasks by automating registration, enrollment and attendance taking and by generating print media that reduces the time needed for records management and outreach. For the initiative, the software creates a set of measures and benchmarks that support site monitoring and overall service evaluation. The software helps CAS operate as a coordinated initiative, while supporting the unique service characteristics of each site.