Analytics making a difference: NYC finds Good Shepherd Services program reduces homelessness, jail stays

A recent project with a supportive housing provider in New York City showed how analytics leads to insights that can change, even save, lives.

The New York City Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence (CIDI) is the analytics research arm of the City’s Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (HHS). The Center’s goals are to improve coordination and quality of HHS services, inform citywide policy, analyze cross-agency policy issues and conduct independent research. CIDI partners with other agencies and organizations to tackle questions that can only be answered through data and analytics.

“Our partnership with CIDI has shown us the power of merging our program data with robust health and human service data.  We always knew that our Chelsea Foyer program worked, but now we have the results to back it up.”  - Sr. Paulette LoMonaco, Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services

Young people who are on the precipice of aging out of foster care, homeless, or are struggling with mental illness face unique challenges when it comes to successfully transitioning to adulthood. Therefore, they may require specialized forms of support to ensure they go on to lead more productive, focused and successful lives.

One promising intervention for these at-risk youth is supportive housing- programs that combine housing and targeted services.  However, experts have struggled to grasp the full impact of such programs due to the lack of availability and consistency of data on a wide range of outcomes, the inability to identify appropriate comparison groups, and other methodological challenges.

The Chelsea Foyer at the Christopher, developed by Good Shepherd Services, is an innovative, trauma-informed supportive housing program in New York City that serves 40 young adults between the ages of 18-25. These young adults are aging out of foster care, homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Residents at the Foyer can live there for up to two years and access an array of youth development services, including workshops on life skills, finance, and employment to prepare them for independence.

Good Shepherd Services is a recognized leader in the development of innovative programs that make a difference in the lives of children, youth and families. Each year, Good Shepherd Services work with more than 26,000 New Yorkers through over 80 programs in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Working together, Good Shepherd Services and CIDI were able to conduct research comparing the outcomes of Chelsea Foyer participants to the outcomes of a comparison group of individuals who were eligible for supportive housing but were not placed in a supportive housing program.

Controlling for other factors, CIDI found that Foyer participants were 36% less likely to have a stay in the single adult shelter system and 55% less likely to go to jail during a two year time period as compared with the comparison group.

The preliminary results from this evaluation have promising programmatic and methodological implications. The lower rates of homeless shelter and jail stays for Foyer participants relative to their comparison group peers suggest tremendous benefits to young adults in supportive housing. This study also exemplifies how administrative data can be used to track participant outcomes, even for smaller scale programs.

CIDI is a member of the University of Pennsylvania’s Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy network, a group of public sector and academic organizations that research ways to “improve the quality of education, health and human service agencies’ policies and practices through the use of integrated data systems.”

CIDI has flexed its research muscles well beyond the supportive housing project. Other projects include:

  • A longitudinal, comparative study of cross-over youth in child welfare and juvenile justice in partnership with two other cities. The study found that youth who entered foster care for the first time at the age of 13 is years is 9.0-times more likely of having juvenile justice involvement than a child placed as an infant. This helped strengthen the Administration for Children’s Services $23 million investment in specialized teen preventive services.
  • Data support for the Young Men’s Initiative that improved understanding of services aimed at decreasing racial disparities for young men of color.
  • Maps of service need and utilization in vulnerable neighborhoods, used to inform program and policy planning for cross-agency coordination efforts.

CIDI is not just making a difference in their own organization, they are helping other agencies make a difference and positively impact countless lives with the insight they provide.

This is the first in a series of posts profiling individuals or teams in state or local government that are using analytics to make a difference in their agencies and beyond.

tags: Actionable Intelligence for Social Policy, analytics, at risk youth, foster care, good shepherd services, juvenile justice, local government, New York City Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence, SAS, supportive housing

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