We will present for discussion our successes and challenges, including using clinician data collectors, making evaluation data useful to clinical work, and creating usable sustainable systems for data collection and use. Over the course of implementing several grant funded program evaluations in the community mental health context, we developed tools that would build agencies' capacity for data use and evaluation. We used a web based online offline tool to allow agency staff to collect data and quickly get clinically relevant results that were used as part of care planning. This data was also available to the agency for continuing quality improvement and to share with stakeholders or other funders to promote their programs. Challenges existed where the needs of the evaluation and the needs of the agency were not perfectly aligned. We also discuss our strategies for engaging staff and management at agencies.
Our presenters are researchers and project management staff that played crucial roles in the implementation in each of the three projects by engaging with agency staff to instill a data-informed culture. Our first presenter will introduce the need for data-informed care in social work practice more broadly, and discuss how federal grant funding provides an important tool for organizational transformation at the systems level. Another presenter will discuss the process of getting buy-in from agency leadership and frontline staff, challenges the team faced, and the technological tools developed to promote data use. A third presenter will discuss her reflections as a clinician in one of the partner agencies who now works on the research side of the evaluation. The presenters will also discuss how their experiences highlight concepts from organizational theory, implementation science, and data use theory, including the importance of organizational champions in adopting change, the impact of the political and funding context, and the interpretive process of how practitioners use data in decision-making. Presenters will engage participants in discussion on ways to move the profession in this direction and how participants could implement these ideas in the communities or clinics they work.