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DHS Research and Reports - Child Development & Education

pdf.gif Data Brief: Addressing School Absenteeism
Published October 2014

This data brief describes community-wide strategies to prevent and reduce chronic school absenteeism, made possible by data-sharing agreements between DHS and local school districts.

pdf.gif Data Brief: ACHIEVE After-school Program Final Report 
Published March 2014 

For two years, middle school students from the Pittsburgh Public School district, whose high scores on standardized tests were not reflected in their grades, participated in the ACHIEVE after-school program. These students, who had also been involved in human services, received a multi-faceted program experience in an effort to bring their school performance more in line with what the standardized tests indicated they were capable of achieving.

ACHIEVE was the first initiative to result from the 2009 data sharing agreement between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Pittsburgh Public Schools, and was looked at as a way to explore how integrating school and human services data could inform strategies to address the needs of students in both systems. While the outcomes did not warrant continuation of the program, the effort demonstrated the potential of utilizing data to identify students in need of intervention. As the report describes, it also provided valuable lessons for future program design.

pdf.gif Data Brief: Truancy Prevention Programs in Allegheny County
Published March 2014 
Research validates the negative correlation between chronic absenteeism and school success. The Department of Human Services (DHS) is working closely with local school systems and youth serving organizations to define the local scope of the problem and to identify ways to increase school attendance. Recently, DHS analyzed data about the services provided and outcomes achieved by two Allegheny County truancy prevention programs and conducted a series of interviews with school counselors and social workers, Magisterial District Judges, child welfare caseworkers and the Allegheny Intermediate Unit’s Truancy Prevention Program to gather information about ways in which truancy prevention and intervention efforts could be improved.

 pdf.gif DataBrief: Human Services Involvement of Home-Schooled and Cyber Charter School-Enrolled Students in Pittsburgh Public Schools
Published, October 2013 

Data were analyzed to compare human services involvement of students who were home-schooled and enrolled in cyber charter schools to the general student population of the Pittsburgh Public School District. Involvement in human services was less for both home-schooled students and cyber charter school-enrolled students. This brief provides an overview of the demographic and human services involvement comparison among public school, home-schooled and cyber charter school-enrolled students.

pdf.gif Improving Educational and Well Being Outcomes: School-DHS Data Sharing in Allegheny County, 2012 Update
Jeffery Fraser, August 2013  

In this update on the data sharing agreements between DHS and local school districts, writer Jeffery Fraser provides an overview on progress since the initial Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with the Pittsburgh Public Schools and implemented in 2010. Achievements as of the end of 2012 include signing an updated and expanded MOU with the Pittsburgh Public Schools as well as agreements with an additional three school districts (Clairton, Woodland Hills and Elizabeth Forward), implementation of an after-school program and a truancy prevention pilot program, use of the shared data to stabilize the educational experiences of children in the child welfare system, convening of community stakeholders around issues concerning the children shared by the two systems, and improved relationships between DHS, the various school districts and other systems involved with these youth.

pdf.gif Improving Educational Outcomes for Child Welfare-Involved Youth: Allegheny County’s Implementation of the Child Welfare Education Screen
Ellen L. Skakalski, Samantha Murphy and Evelyn Whitehill, August 2013  

While the protective benefits of involvement in the child welfare system are well documented, there is increasing recognition that unstable family living situations and/or frequent placement changes experienced by children in this system can result in delays in school enrollment, disruptive school changes and increases in absenteeism. These factors, in turn, are associated with negative school outcomes such as higher rates of drop out and truancy, lower achievement and increased risk of assignment to alternative school placements, and failure to receive critical special education services.

In an effort to minimize these risks, and in response to federal and state regulation and policy, the Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) has implemented the Pennsylvania General and Special Education/Disability Accommodation Screen (Education Screen) in partnership with provider agencies and local school districts. The Education Screen, a tool for gathering information and making recommendations to relevant parties about the education needs of school-aged children and youth who are receiving child welfare services, focuses on improving educational stability through collaborative efforts between counties and school districts.

This report describes DHS’s implementation of the Education Screen and identifies lessons learned during the implementation process.

 pdf.gif DataBrief: School Attendance and Academic Achievement in the Pittsburgh Public Schools
June 2013
Attendance is an important marker for how well students will do in school; chronic absenteeism is a predictor of poor school performance and, ultimately, school failure and dropout. DHS conducted an assessment of attendance by Pittsburgh Public School students during the 2011-12 school year, including the impact of involvement in the human service system. This two-page data brief summarizes the findings.

 pdf.gif Gaps in Student Achievement: Human Services Involvement in Clairton City Public Schools
Kathryn Collins, PhD, Emily Kulick and Erin Dalton
May 2013
Sixty-three percent of students in the Clairton City Public Schools received at least one service provided by DHS and/or another support program in the past; 46 percent were involved in the last school year. This report details the analysis of this involvement and highlights the achievement disparities for those students relative to their peers  
pdf.gif Improving Educational and Well-being Outcomes: The Pittsburgh Public Schools and Allegheny County Department of Human Services Data-Sharing Agreement
Prepared By Jeffery Fraser
Published July 2012.

The data-sharing agreement between the Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Department of Human Services, designed to make it possible to integrate and share data on students involved in human services and other youth-serving systems, is in its second year. The agreement has resulted in a number of achievements: 1) through participation in the ACHIEVE afterschool program, middle school students are demonstrating progress towards meeting the criteria for the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship program; 2) DHS has received a number of federal and foundation grants, designed to improve a variety of educational outcomes for youth, such as reduced truancy and increased permanency; and 3) a similar agreement was recently implemented with the Clairton City School District and negotiations are underway for partnerships with other school districts.

This report provides an overview of the data-sharing agreement and the outcomes of the partnership.

pdf.gif Disparities in Achievement: Human Services Involvement of Children in Pittsburgh Public Schools 
Emily Kulick and Erin Dalton
Published June 2011.
A data sharing agreement between the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) has created the opportunity to measure the educational impact of human services involvement by PPS students. This report fully details the results of this analysis and highlights the achievement disparities for those students involved in human service programs.

Based on these findings, an intervention has been designed to improve educational outcomes for a subset of the identified group. This intervention will be described in a future report.

Data briefs on a number of the outcomes identified in this report are posted below.

pdf.gif Improving Educational and Well-being Outcomes, June 2011 Update
Writer Jeffrey Fraser provides an update on the progress made during the first year of the historic data-sharing agreement between DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools. The report outlines the partnership’s preliminary analysis, the Phase One Intervention Initiative, the uses of integrated data and presentations to the community.

pdf.gif Framework for Collaboration: The Memorandum of Understanding between Allegheny County DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools 
Jeffrey Fraser
Published 2011.
In this report, writer Jeffrey Fraser documents the process that led to a data-sharing agreement between DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools. The organizations collaborated to integrate their data and are using it to inform strategies to improve educational and child wellbeing outcomes.  pdf.gif Data-Sharing Memorandum of Understanding - DHS/School District 

pdf.gif Data Briefs: The DHS-PPS Data-Sharing Agreement
Published July 2011.
The one-page brief details the key provisions of the data-sharing agreement between DHS and Pittsburgh Public Schools which provides a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the children involved in both systems.

pdf.gif Data Briefs: DHS Service Involvement
Published July 2011.
More than half of the students in Pittsburgh Public Schools classrooms has been in need of human services at some point in their lives. This one-page brief identifies the scope of human service involvement by service type and provides evidence for the need for partnerships between Education and Human Services systems. 

pdf.gif Data Briefs: Academic Outcomes
Published July 2011.
Only 34% of high school students with prior human service involvement are eligible for the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship compared to 68% of their classmates who have never received services. Utilizing the integrated data, this one-page brief provides a preliminary analysis of the academic performance of Pittsburgh Public School students with human service involvement.  

pdf.gif Data Briefs: Outcomes by Race
Published July 2011.
The one-page brief highlights the academic achievement gap identified among African American Pittsburgh Public students with human service involvement compared to their white and multi-racial classmates. 

pdf.gif Pittsburgh Public Schools and the Pathways to the Promise: The 2010 Local Government Case Competition 
Alexa Seretti, Katie Meehan and Erin Dalton
Published 2011.

For the fourth annual Local Government Case Competition, the Department of Human Services (DHS) sought ideas from students on how to improve educational outcomes for at-risk youth in Allegheny County and all children who attend the Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS). Sixteen graduate student teams presented their ideas to a panel of judges from local foundations, community organizations and DHS; four teams were ultimately chosen as winners based on verbal presentation, content and scope. This report summarizes some of the ideas generated during the competition.

pdf.gif Building The Homewood Children's Village: 2009 Allegheny County DHS Local Government Case Competition 
Alexa Seretti, Katie Meehan, Dana Kunzman, Erin Dalton  
Published 2010.
The third annual Department of Human Services Local Government Case Competition drew 61 participants, the most in competition history, and students were recruited from new areas of study. After learning about a new collaborative called the Homewood Children’s Village (HCV), students were assigned to teams and given the next day and a half to develop a strategic plan for the organization. The plans included ideas for how HCV could create a more “child-centered” neighborhood, using the renowned Harlem Children’s Zone as a model, to boost academic achievement and improve children’s lives in the Homewood area of Pittsburgh.