The Support Center for Child Advocates has provided legal assistance and social service advocacy for abused and neglected children in Philadelphia since its founding in 1977. The Support Center trains volunteer lawyers, social workers, and staff attorneys to represent children in child welfare and custody court proceedings. Effective case management requires accurate tracking of clients and their legal history, attorney assignments and court dates and, ideally, outcomes. While the Support Center has been at the forefront of using outcome data to understand its effectiveness, until recently, this has been hampered by the need to provide much of the qualitative data manually. In 2012, the Support Center created its first case management system that digitizes all activities on behalf of clients, including qualitative staff assessments.
Through her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Megan Stephens worked with the Support Center for Child Advocates to maximize the use of their case management system by analyzing case outcomes data, examining the challenges staff had in using the system, and educating leadership and staff on how to use data to assess the effectiveness of specific advocacy services. The work strengthened the Support Center’s capacity to measure its performance and refine its service delivery to clients.