North Carolina Ready Schools Task Force Adopts SPARK “Pathways to Ready Schools”

In 2006, as the Supporting Partnerships to Assure Ready Kids (SPARK) Initiative began focusing on ready schools, the SPARK Initiative Level Evaluation (ILE) Team at WRMA sought to develop a framework for describing ready schools. The team considered several models from experts in the fields of early care and education and elementary education, other relevant literature, and feedback from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the SPARK Grantees, and other resource organizations. This framework was then tested and revised on the ground by visiting four model schools in diverse communities in the cities of Albuquerque, Cleveland, and Decatur, Georgia; as well as the states of Hawaii, Mississippi, and New Mexico. The result was a document titled “Pathways to Ready Schools”.

The North Carolina Ready Schools Task Force completed its initial work in January 2007 with a recommendation to the State Board of Education that it endorse the findings in “Pathways to Ready Schools” as the state definition of a ready school. The Task Force further recommended that every elementary school develop an action plan to implement “Pathways” by 2011.

The Kellogg Foundation’s Vice President of Youth and Education also included the “pathways” in his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on March 20, 2007. The hearing was titled “Realizing a Competitive Education: Identifying Needs, Partnerships and Resources”, and the pathways were included with the key learnings from SPARK.

WRMA Partners with Softek, Inc. and CGI to Develop the Adoption and Foster Care Case Management System for the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico

WRMA is part of a team with SofteK, Inc. and CGI to support the Puerto Rican Administration for Children and Families (ADFAN) in planning for and completing the development and implementation of a new adoption and foster care case management system. This process includes the assessment of current structures and processes, the design and documentation of proposed new processes and procedures, the identification of new skills needed by staff utilizing the new system, and the creation of an organizational culture receptive to the new system. It also includes the implementations of this new automated system.

WRMA and American Humane Association (AHA) Perform Study to Establish Baseline Standards for Washington State’s Child Welfare Workload

In September 2006, the State of Washington Department of Social and Health Services Children’s Administration (CA) engaged Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc. (WRMA) and American Humane Association(AHA) to perform a workload study that would establish baseline standards by accurately measuring the child welfare staff current operational workload. A primary goal of the study was to equip CA with the tools, models, and skills necessary to continuously reassess workloads based on the changing in factors that influence the provision of child welfare services. The standards, based on child welfare best practices, will also be used in a cost-benefit analysis and “break even” estimate for a new State of Washington Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS).

WRMA prepared the following publications:

These publications were submitted to the State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Children’s Administration for State review and use in future planning.

WRMA Selected to Design and Implement Evaluation Process and System for First 5 Sacramento Commission Funded Programs and Services

In 1998, the California Children and Families Act (Prop 10) imposed a tax on all tobacco products to fund education, health, childcare and other programs for expectant parents and children ages prenatally to age five. First 5 Sacramento was formed to use this funding in facilitating these programs and services in Sacramento County. First 5 Sacramento has an annual budget of approximately $30 million and is currently funding programs in the following areas: breastfeeding, child care affordability and quality, community building initiatives, fluoridation, injury and death prevention, medical home, and school readiness.

During the next three fiscal years, the WRMA project team will evaluate over thirty service contracts and an equal number of small grants. In addition, the team will support the strategic planning activities of the Commission.

WRMA Qualifies for the Third Time to Provide Evaluation Services to the Children & Families Commission of Orange County

For the third time, WRMA has qualified (as in 2000 and 2003) to provide evaluation services to the Children & Families Commission of Orange County (CFCOC). WRMA will assist with the ongoing design and implementation of the CFCOC’s Performance Outcomes Measurement System (POMS), which measures the quantity and quality of services provided by organizations funded by the CFCOC. WRMA’s most recent contributions to CFCOC’s work include support for preparation of their School Readiness Report to the State, and an evaluation of the utilization of Americorps/Vista as a resource in maximizing Commission funds.

WRMA past assistance has included the following initiatives: the development of protocols for logic model development; the “cross-walking” of performance measures with grantee data-collection capabilities; a comprehensive review of recent work related to confidentiality, informed consent, and the use of personally identifiable information; the division of recommendations and protocols for the Commission’s Institutional Review process; the division of state-of-the-art approaches to common data collection instrumentation; and consultation related to implementing the County’s performance measures. The Commission also asked WRMA to provide leadership in these areas for the teams of evaluators and information systems consultants that they hired.

Under a separate task order, WRMA served as the external evaluator for one of the Commission’s Early Action Program grantees, the Heritage House North Perinatal Residential Substance Abuse Program for substance-abusing mothers and their children.