Data Culture as a Change Agent for Organizations Serving Families and Children Experiencing Homelessness

Over the past decade there have been considerable developments in the use of data in the field of child and family homelessness. The development of high-quality data collection processes—including Housing Management Information Systems (HMIS), community point-in-time counts, and school district data and evaluation infrastructure—has given nonprofit and social sector leaders unprecedented access to client-level data. However, it remains a challenge for nonprofits and community-based organizations to engage in work with families experiencing homelessness and demonstrate meaningful impact across a variety of outcomes. In this policy brief, the authors discuss (1) challenges facing the field of child and family homelessness with respect to data use, (2) recent advancements in the use of data, and (3) strategies to create an organizational culture of data that makes use of recent advancements in data use and addresses current challenges facing the field. The brief makes the argument that fostering a data culture at the organizational level has the capacity to operate as an organizational change agent that improves programs.

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Journal of Children and Poverty