Building Family Opportunity (BFO) is a program designed to provide services to help jobless families with their educational, training and employment needs. The program is run by the Department for the Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI) and commenced in 2010. Simply stated by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, “The BFO program is about wrapping services and supports around families, including those who experience intergenerational unemployment, with the ultimate goal of finding and keeping a job.”
The initial task was to conduct an analysis and architect a data framework using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which was already deployed within DCSI but not utilised in this manner. As the official record keeping system for BFO, the framework had to facilitate two streams of information:
- Capture longitudinal data for program evaluation
- Case management tool to capture and manage inquiries, and support provided to program participants
In addition to the case workers, researchers from Flinders University assisted in structuring the program. The framework needed to facilitate the program from an information access and technology perspective.
The data management framework required extended flexibility and accuracy to support the individuals involved with the program. Taking an 80/20 approach, we establish the core information capture requirements that form the framework foundation. These requirements do not change throughout the program. Inherent in Dynamics CRM is excellent flexibility allowing addition and adjustment of data requirements on demand.
The second challenge is using the captured data in a meaningful way to analyse longitudinal impacts. Illuminance used a mixed data management approach — with Dynamics CRM holding the living data and the University providing data research software to capture data snapshots. The data is strictly organised and exported regularly to map out the longitudinal impacts.
The ongoing challenge is to ensure consistent data capture by both case officers and program administrators. Rigorous data management approaches and processes work to minimise distortion and noise in the data. This strict and documented approach ensures the evaluation outcome is scientific and accurate.
More than 400 people have found work through the program since it began in 2010, and more than 800 people have entered training programs. In September 2014, an additional $2 million in funding was provided to BFO to help up to 350 long-term unemployed families in the northern suburbs.
The data supported by analysis provides insight to researcher and case worker to support participants. The BPO program takes a ‘life-first’ rather than ‘work-first’ social support model.
Strengths-based intensive case management facilitates a holistic and integrated approach to service delivery with a long-term approach to social services delivery.
This program demonstrates a better way to deliver social security. We are proud to be a contributor to this program.