How We’re Planning for the Next 10 Years of Children’s Services Funding in Jackson County

At CSF, we have a vision of a Jackson County where every child has access to the mental, emotional and behavioral health care they need to have a healthy and happy future. To make this vision a reality, we need to know how our kids are doing, what they need, and how we can help them. That’s why we are conducting a Children’s Services Assessment, a project that will help us gather and analyze data and information from multiple sources and perspectives and use it to guide our work for the next 10 years. 

The Children’s Services Assessment is led by our Director of Impact, Jane Mosley, PhD, who joined CSF in March 2024. With over 17 years of experience in philanthropy, research, and evaluation, Dr. Mosley is skilled and passionate about using data and information to drive change and improve outcomes for communities. Explaining the purpose of the Children’s Services Assessment, she says, “The aim here is for each of us to grasp our daily realities and the broader system dynamics, particularly concerning children’s well-being. We all hold assumptions about how things work and how children are doing, but it’s crucial to gather information to continue making informed decisions.” 

How will the Children’s Services Assessment help us plan for the future? 

Dr. Mosley explains that the Children’s Services Assessment is a critical part of the CSF’s evaluation framework, which is a systematic way of using data and information to guide our decisions and actions. The Children’s Services Assessment will help us answer three key questions: 

  • How are kids doing in Jackson County? This question will help us measure the well-being and outcomes of children and families across different domains, such as health, education, safety, and mental, emotional and behavioral wellness. 
  • What does the system of care look like in Jackson County? This question will help us understand the structure and functioning of the systems of care that support children such as the types, availability, accessibility, and quality of services and programs. 
  • Where are the opportunities for improvement and innovation in Jackson County? This question will help us identify the gaps, needs, strengths, and assets in the system of care, and the potential areas for intervention, collaboration, and advocacy. 

By answering these questions, says Dr. Mosley, we will be able to develop a roadmap for the next 10 years, which will include a vision, goals, strategies, and indicators of success for our work. She also reminds us that the Children’s Services Assessment will not be a one-time project, but rather an ongoing process of learning and improvement, which will involve continuous data collection, analysis, reflection, and feedback. 

What are the steps involved in the Children’s Services Assessment? 

Dr. Mosley outlines the process of the Children’s Services Assessment in three key steps. The first step involves a review of existing data and information sourced from various outlets like standardized surveys, community health needs assessments, and administrative records. Second, new data will be gathered through surveys, interviews, and focus groups involving diverse stakeholders such as service providers, community members, parents, and children. In the final arc of the assessment, the CSF will engage the community in the interpretation and utilization of this data. This step entails creating processes for sharing and discussing the findings with the CSF community, including staff, board members, partner organizations, service providers, and funders, to gather input and feedback on the implications and recommendations for future work.

These steps are not necessarily sequential or linear but rather iterative and flexible, depending on the data and information that emerge and the feedback that the assessment draws in. The plan is to engage data collection partners through a formal RFP process. Dr. Mosley is looking forward to collaborating with the CSF Director of Health Equity, Russell Anderson, to embed equity and diversity into the data-gathering and evaluation practices of the Children’s Services Assessment: “Learning from the voices of underrepresented communities and kids in Jackson County is front and center for us as we get started. If we miss out on gathering data from and about marginalized communities, this assessment will miss its mark.” 

What are the expected outcomes of the Children’s Services Assessment? 

While the finer details of the data collection and community engagement processes are still in process, Dr. Mosley’s hopes for the outcomes of the Children’s Services Assessment cast a compelling picture. 

First, the CSF will produce a comprehensive report summarizing the collected data and analysis findings. This report will be of strategic import not only for the CSF but for all our partner organizations, area providers and even policymakers in the county. The hope is for the report to also provide recommendations to inform strategic planning and funding decisions at a county-wide level. Additionally, we anticipate the assessment will lead to the development of a strategic plan detailing the CSF’s vision, goals, strategies, and success indicators for the next decade. A third hope for the assessment is that it will help the CSF create a learning agenda delineating essential questions, data sources, and evaluation methods to monitor progress and impact over time.

These outcomes will not only help us improve our internal processes and practices but also help us communicate our work and impact to our external audiences, such as our partners, funders, policymakers, and the public. 

How will the Children’s Services Assessment benefit the children of Jackson County? 

The primary aim of the Children’s Services Assessment is to enhance the mental health and holistic wellness of children in Jackson County. To that end, the Children’s Services Assessment will identify the most critical issues and opportunities facing children and families in the county for the CSF and other partner organizations. It will also ensure that funding decisions are informed by the latest data and evidence available. Moreover, it will work towards bolstering the existing system of care catering to children and families. Additionally, Dr. Mosley underscores the importance of advocating for policies and resources beneficial to children and families in the county: “We anticipate that the assessment will play a crucial role in amplifying the voices and perspectives of those served.”

As the CSF gears up to embark on this journey of conducting a Children’s Services Assessment, we’re eager to have our partner organizations and everyone involved in children’s services in Jackson County join us in this process. We will be sharing updates and insights on our blog, social media, and newsletter, and we welcome your feedback and input. 

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