Episode 7 of the husITa Podcast

Data-Driven Service Delivery: An Interview with Dr. Kristin Ferguson, Dr. Carter Wang, and Elizabeth Mody PhDc

Author: Jimmy A. Young, PhD

In this month’s episode I was fortunate enough to interview Kristin Ferguson, Carter Wang, and Elizabeth Mody and discuss their article “Data-Driven Service Delivery: Using Population and Coalition Data to Reengage Opportunity Youth in Career and Educational Pathways,” which was published in the Journal of Technology in Human Services in 2020. Dr. Ferguson is a Professor at the Arizona State University’s School of Social Work and Director of the Center for Human Capital and Youth Development. Her research focuses on the design, implementation, and evaluation of employment interventions for homeless and opportunity youth that integrate employment and clinical services, including supported employment and social enterprises. Over the past two decades, she has focused her research primarily in two areas: 1) design, implementation and evaluation of supported employment and social enterprise interventions for vulnerable youth populations combined with assessment of intervention feasibility, effectiveness, and implementation; and 2) rigorous evaluation across seven U.S. cities to examine the environmental and psychosocial conditions affecting youth homelessness and unemployment. Dr. Carter Wang is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Planning at Towson University in Maryland. Before joining Towson University, he worked as a postdoc and a Research Assistant Professor at Arizona State University, where he also obtained his Ph.D. in Geography. Dr. Wang’s research uses advanced geospatial technologies, including geographic information systems and remote sensing, to address environmental, ecological, and social issues in U.S. cities, such as urban climate change, urban ecosystems, land use change, human health, and urban resilience. Elizabeth Hatch Mody is currently a doctoral student at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work and a researcher with the Center of Human Capital and Youth Development. Before she started her doctoral studies, Elizabeth earned her Master’s in Social Work and Public Administration while working in the Office of Global Social Work on research related to health care accessibility and case management for newly arrived refugees in the Phoenix metro area. Elizabeth’s research centers around equity in access to resources and opportunities, particularly for migrant populations, and social service applications of spatial and policy analysis.

            Opportunity youth are aged 16 – 24 years old and neither employed nor in school and can be challenging to engage in services. Their article utilized a collective impact approach which has five main tenets including a common agenda, shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and a backbone staff to help service providers engage opportunity youth in a better way. This approach is central to much of their work in this paper, but I was surprised how important this approach is to data-driven service delivery. We talked a little about Geographic Information Systems or GIS data, along with a reference to some other GIS related work by these guests that can be find here. We also talked about Logic Models and how important it is to identify goals, challenges, stakeholders, and other information to engage in data-driven service delivery from a collective impact approach. Dr. Ferguson also provided 5 key take-aways or points of advice for getting started with data-driven service delivery near the end of the interview but include:

1.         Do your logic model

2.         Identify your data champions or ambassadors

3.         Make your data work for you

4.         Leverage your university resources

5.         Consider shifts in the organizational culture to value data

This was such a great conversation that I felt like macro focused social workers would really benefit from and understand, like a community analysis, that there are multiple steps in a transformational change process. It takes a lot of work, but it’s totally worth it.

As usual, I want to note that these blog posts are mainly place holders for any links and information that we thought would be good to share with our audience. The Posts will eventually also be home to the episode transcripts. We welcome any digital volunteers who would like to transcribe the episodes and if you feel so inclined, please reach out to us via our Contact page or on social media. Let us know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions. See you next month.

Links of Interest:

Data-driven outreach to opportunity youth using population data and Geographic Information System technology

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APA (7th Ed) citation for this podcast:

Young, J. A. (Producer). (2021, June 21). #7 – Data-Driven Service Delivery: An Interview with Dr. Kristin Ferguson, Dr. Carter Wang, and Elizabeth Mody PhDc. [Audio Podcast]. husITa Podcast. Retrieved from https://husita.podbean.com/e/data-driven-service-delivery-an-interview-with-dr-kristin-ferguson-dr-carter-wang-and-elizabeth-mody-phdc/?token=0b84a05fafe4990fa1cd8f85d96f2e29