Child Dashboard History
In the spring of 2020, Elkhart County leaders were worried that the county-wide decrease in child abuse reporting was not actually due to declining child abuse rates. They came together to plan action around this data trend. After multiple community meetings, several organizations came together to train over 170 front-line reporters on child abuse prevention, raising reporting rates. This fruitful collaboration—based on sharing an important data trend—sparked the idea to track local statistics and trends related to Elkhart County children’s safety and wellbeing, and that idea became the Elkhart County Child Dashboard.
Elkhart County system of care
Most counties in Indiana have what’s called a ‘system of care.’ It’s a coordinated network of community partners who support the mental health of children and youth, whether formally or informally. It includes child and youth-serving nonprofits, government agencies, volunteers, professional providers, faith communities, families and youth who have or are at risk for mental health challenges. The presence and impact of each system of care varies. Elkhart County has the largest system of care in the state of Indiana. It’s called The SOURCE, and is housed at Oaklawn.
While federal funding helps lay the group-work of a strong system of care, The SOURCE benefits from strong community and partner support, both financially- from supporters such as the Community Foundation of Elkhart County- and through participation. The SOURCE has twice received a multi-year grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This collaboration sets the stage for innovative initiatives like the Elkhart County Child Dashboard, which is part of longer-term community transformation. The SOURCE staff have worked alongside community partners to develop the Elkhart County Child Dashboard to provide the community with a tool to measure stressors and protective factors connected impacting child wellbeing in Elkhart County.
“The traditional model in mental health care is that we wait until there’s a diagnosable problem, and then we address it. In Elkhart County we believe we can do more,” said Rebecca Shetler Fast, Director of The SOURCE. “Through this Elkhart County Child Dashboard, we are collectively owning the signs of success and risks that families that children in our community experience, and working together to understand the trends and how we can take action together.”
Designed for decision making
The Elkhart County Child Dashboard was created to give local decision makers and leaders regular access to important child wellbeing and safety indicator data, both positive and negative. The dashboard allows leaders to gain access to information beyond their organizational and sector to do the following;
- Detect early trends and opportunities for action
- Better understand real-time priority needs in the county
- Communicate effectively about the role their organization can play in response to trends needs
- More strategically seek funds and fill gaps
- Drive change within their own organizations and across the community.
|Successful community collaboration demonstrates need for Elkhart County Child Dashboard|
|Dashboard begins with creation of first draft and buy-in from initial stakeholders|
|External technical experts joins SOURCE dashboard team|
|First prototype presented to Elkhart community|
|Second prototype with full data reviewed by focus stakeholder group|
|First version of dashboard available to collaborating partners|
|Second version released, possibly adding demographic data to indicators where appropriate|
|Third version released and made available to wider community audience|