RBA is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that can be used to improve the quality of life and outcomes for Miami-Dade's children and families. RBA can also be used to improve the performance of programs, agencies and service systems that impact children and families. It is simple, uses common sense, plain language, minimum paper and, most importantly, focuses accountability on population (community-wide) as well as program results.
The Children's Trust will soon be embarking upon a comprehensive strategic planning effort with its Board of Directors commencing January 2010. In October the Board's ad hoc planning committee adopted RBA as the framework for its use in this strategic planning effort. RBA will be guiding our Board, in coordination with our community partners, in the development of a 5-year strategic investment plan that will serve to focus and prioritize our work. The end result will be a plan for action that (1) ensures all Trust-funded programs and services are associated with the community-wide results we seek, and (2) establishes a mechanism that holds our providers accountable to their clients, and The Trust, together with community partners, accountable to the public, for measuring, achieving and reporting these results.
Overall, RBA will build upon what Trust staff and our funded providers already do as it reinforces our focus on program outcomes, referred to as results, to improve the lives of our children. What RBA will bring to Miami-Dade is a discipline and framework for connecting what our funded programs are achieving with the community-wide results that we as a community seek for our children and their families (such as "children are healthy"). We intend the introduction and use of RBA to be a gradual process for The Trust and our community partners.
We want to re-emphasize RBA is a continuation of what The Children's Trust currently values and seeks - positive outcomes for children and families served by our providers. RBA simply adds discipline and a framework to what we all are doing already.
Below are some answers to potential questions you may have now:
What is Results-Based Accountability?
Results-based accountability (RBA) is a disciplined way of thinking and taking action that can be used to improve the quality of life and outcomes for Miami-Dade's children and families. RBA can also be used to improve the performance of programs, agencies and service systems that impact children and families.
How does it work?
According to RBA creator Mark Friedman, the hallmark of the method is that it is simple, uses common sense, plain language, minimum paper and, most importantly, focuses accountability on population (community-wide) as well as program results.
To make the system easy to understand and manage, program performance measures hinge on three common sense questions: How much did we do? How well did we do it? Is anyone better off? RBA starts with the ends (expected results/outcomes) and works backward, step by step, to the means. For communities, the ends are conditions of well-being for children, families and the community as a whole such as "Children Ready for School" or "Nurturing Families and Safe Communities Support Children." For program services, the ends are how participants are better off when the program works the way it should such as the percentage of youth in an academic improvement program who improve their grades and graduate.
Why Results-based Accountability now?
While RBA has been around nationally and internationally for more than a decade, it recently earned wide-spread traction in Florida following an introductory workshop in mid-September bringing together representatives of local Children's Services Councils, Early Learning Coalitions, United Ways, and other major public and private funders in support of the Florida Governor's Cabinet for Children and Youth. The Cabinet is currently engaged in implementing a Results-based Accountability process. State and local partners are important to the Cabinet's success, to ongoing progress in our communities, and to ensure that we maximize our limited resources by investing in evidence-based practices/programs and practice-based programs that have been shown to work within our communities. Many CSCs are now actively embracing the RBA framework and using it with various partners throughout their communities.
Is RBA just another fad?
Results-based Accountability could be a fad. But community-wide results and client results are here to stay. Healthy children or safe communities will be just as important 50 years from now as today. Programs which improve the lives of their clients in measurable ways will be valued above others as long as programs exist. So the foundation of the work - the notion of well-being in plain language and then in measurable terms - is, almost certainly, enduring.
For these very same reasons, Results-based Accountability is not new. It may be thought of as a continuation and deepening of many past efforts, which attempt to structure our thinking, planning, budgeting and management processes around getting results.
You can visit the Results Accountability Guide website for even more information.