We are celebrating our 10th anniversary on April 4th at the Culture Center in Charleston. This week marks the seventh in a series of blogs reflecting year-by-year on the history, moments, and people of the CAC movement in West Virginia. To start with the first entry, click here.
How do you hold a mirror to a social movement? With such a meaningful and important mission to protect our most vulnerable children, it’s easy to get swept up in the day-to-day work and believe that we are doing the best we can. It’s not enough, though, to forever say that we are doing what no one else has done before and that’s enough. Maturing social movements have to commit to digging into their outcomes and asking the scariest question; “Are we doing what we mean to, and doing it well?”
While Emily’s first taste of AmeriCorps VISTA work was community organizing, mine was program evaluation. In 2012, 18 state CAC chapters like WVCAN were selected for a national pilot of the CAC Outcome Measurement System (OMS). Developed in Texas, this program was designed to evaluate the work of CACs through surveys to the caregivers who bring their children to our care and the multidisciplinary team members we partner with in delivering that care. The best part about OMS was that we didn’t have to re-invent the wheel to find a way evaluate CAC services. West Virginia was lucky enough to participate in this pilot and start getting more in-depth information about how we were doing.
That first year saw 14 of our 19 CACs at the time getting trained and starting to use this. We all met at the Braxton County DHHR in a big room to learn how to use these surveys. Now, 5 years later, all WV CACs participate in this program. We use the results to steer where we’re going as a network, and help our CACs use it to steer where they’re going on the local level. Having this “mirror” has helped us look back on the work we have done and what we have yet to do. However, when 99% of surveyed caregivers say that if they knew anyone else who was dealing with a situation like theirs, they’d tell them about the CAC… I know we’re on the right track.