Laying the Groundwork
Using data to make decisions requires both technical skills and an organizational culture that is prepared to act on what is learned. TDC walks you through key considerations including:
- Formulating a question that is driven by the needs of your agency and answerable with available data;
- Determining the outcomes you wish to affect;
- Identifying necessary data elements and appropriate analyses;
- Estimating required resources; and
- Planning how to share what you learn.
Addressing these issues upfront, and adapting when needed, maximizes what you can get out of your data.
After you determine what data is needed, you need to ensure that you have the legal, ethical, and cross-agency coordination considerations ironed out. Some of the most impactful questions draw on data integrated from multiple sources. TDC can help to navigate establishing secure and sustainable data sharing practices, with a focus on accessing and integrating TANF, employment, and other human services data.
Now that you have your data, it's time to prepare it for the analysis. This involves linking data across sources, cleaning data, and restructuring your data so that it is ready to be analyzed. This may involve de-identifying the data to protect the privacy and security of your clients. TDC can provide guidance on these topics and more.
Having accessed and prepared the data, it's now time to figure out what insights you can offer into the question you scoped at the beginning of your project. TDC teaches data analysis techniques – from simple to sophisticated – that give you the power to transform your data into knowledge that can inform the critical decisions you make while serving your TANF clients.
Communicating Data & Findings
How you format and share your findings is critical to generating insights. In addition, what you present should be adapted for each relevant stakeholder group. TDC provides training and technical assistance on data visualization techniques to share the story you've uncovered in the data and on how to present data to different audiences. TDC also serves as a centralized access point for resources aimed at easing states' effort and improving the quality of their federal reporting.