As part of the FCCC demonstration, the three communities worked toward data sharing and integration across partners. The unique combinations of advantages and constraints that each partnership has faced present an opportunity to draw lessons for what other social service partnerships can expect when they embark on data sharing and integration efforts. The partnership in San Antonio worked to build out its own shared data system. This required navigating the disparate priorities of an array of public and private organizations with a variety of existing reporting requirements and data protections. Buffalo has also implemented a custom shared data system. A more centralized partnership structure facilitated a relatively seamless integration process. Columbus has worked on adopting a centralized data reporting model, wherein various partners share data with the backbone partner absent a shared data system.
This paper adds to the evidence of the potential boons and pitfalls of data sharing across social service providers through presenting the experiences and lessons learned in the FCCC communities as they worked to share and integrate their data. These findings were gleaned from analysis of five years of staff interviews. The San Antonio partnership implemented a shared system among the key partners that allows for shared client information, which the partnership has begun to use to improve case management. Despite this success, different priorities across partners remain a challenge. Buffalo has implemented a shared data system among key partners and is sharing data on service receipt and short-term client outcomes to inform service delivery, though concern remains that system capacity restrictions limit the system’s usefulness. Columbus has achieved increased service integration through data sharing; the backbone partner now uses data from key partners to track service receipt and family outcomes and feeds this information back to other partners. This effort and the broader effort to inculcate a data sharing culture are ongoing.
The experiences of the FCCC communities suggest that data sharing and integration offer opportunities to serve clients more equitably through systematically targeting individual client needs. These efforts also indicate the importance of establishing cross-partner buy-in through shared understandings and common goals for data sharing and integration early in collective impact partnerships.