Performance-Based Contracting: ECEAP Case Study

August 24, 2020
Case study infographic with magnifying glass, data sheets and laptop.

Principles for Continuous Improvement: Building a Data Dashboard

The Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) is working with Third Sector to select teams across the agency to identify and incorporate key quality and outcome measures in contracts for client services as part of an agencywide shift to an outcomes-oriented performance-based contracting (PBC) model. With intensive support from Third Sector and DCYF’s Office of Innovation, Alignment and Accountability, the goal of the project is to use provider performance data to understand what drives outcomes and support continuous improvement.

One of the first teams involved in the project was the Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP). ECEAP is Washington's pre-kindergarten program that prepares children (ages 3-4) furthest from opportunity for success in school and life. ECEAP brought an unwavering commitment to racial equity and a robust pre-existing strengths-based continuous quality improvement (CQI) structure into the process. 

What do we measure?
ECEAP worked with their contracted service providers to create a logic model that outlines the core components of the model and measures of program success. ECEAP then went through a process to select measures using an equity lens for criteria such as:

  • Does research or data analysis show the contracted services influence the measure?
  • Can data on the measure be tracked regularly and accurately?
  • Does the measure support the advancement of racial equity?
  • Do contractors have sufficient influence on the client outcome measure to be held accountable for it in contracts?
  • Are stakeholders aligned on the importance of the measure?
  • Is family voice meaningfully incorporated into the process?

How do we measure it?
Next, we compared current and historical provider performance for each measure selected and collaborated with stakeholders (e.g., providers, families, etc.) to develop metrics and targets. Data on the metrics are regularly shared and analyzed with providers through their existing continuous improvement process to ensure that data is understood within the context of each provider’s program.

The ECEAP team and providers now use a more detailed selection of targeted provider performance data with a broad range of other program data to improve services, for instance, increasing vision and hearing screening completion rates to improve a child’s capacity to learn. 

How will we display the analysis?
As one way to support ongoing data sharing and analysis, ECEAP is considering the further development of data dashboards or visual data displays for several metrics to better support providers’ CQI processes. For ECEAP, that includes comprehensive focus areas of preschool education, child health and family engagement.

In the meantime, ECEAP continues to share and learn from the data with its providers via Excel tables and reports generated through their integrated data management system.