Building a Network Strategy to Improve Childhood Outcomes

The Colorado Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance worked with us and several community partners to evaluate and visualize twelve councils to inform their strategy for the future.

Case Study Executive Summary

Early Childhood Councils play an important role in the Colorado early childhood development community by connecting key stake holders to improve outcomes for children in education, healthcare and more. We partnered with several organizations in 2014 and 2015 to evaluate the work of 12 Early Childhood Councils in Colorado to demonstrate their impact and build strategies for the future. 

The project helped them demonstrate that 63% of relationships and partnerships were attributable to their work, conveying the importance of their impact to the community. The results continue to inform the strategy and collaboration of the Councils today.

Colorado's Early Childhood Councils & Funders

For this project, we had the pleasure to work with three organizations to evaluate the work of 12 different Colorado Early Childhood Councils. Our funding project partners included the Colorado Trust, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, and the Colorado Department of Human Services. Each participating Council received a report on their own network along with action items for the future.

The Councils needed to understand the partnerships they were fostering throughout the state.

Colorado’s Early Childhood Councils play a coordinating role in the early childhood system – they work to integrate and connect various stakeholders and service providers like hospitals, public health departments, schools, daycares, and other care professionals. However it is difficult for the Councils to demonstrate their impact and the number of relationships they’ve created, which also limits their ability to manage their work strategically. We partnered with several organizations in 2014 and 2015 to evaluate the work of 12 Early Childhood Councils in Colorado with a few key objectives.

We helped the Councils visualize their networks, measure impact, and create a strategy for the future.

We worked with our partners to create twelve customized PARTNER Network Surveys, which we sent to each of the twelve participating Early Childhood Councils. Each Council had a Coordinator who oversaw the survey process. After we finished collecting the data, we analyzed it and created numerous visualizations and maps to help demonstrate our results. Our analysis was driven by four questions:

  1. How are Early Childhood Councils in Colorado strengthening the EC system in their county?

  2. What parts of the network are strong and weak?

  3. How is this system inter-connected? Which parts of the system are impacted by which factors?

In addition to our analysis of these questions, we created several visual reports, presentations, and briefs for the Early Childhood Community to use in sharing their results. This made it easy for them to demonstrate their impact to their funders, stakeholders, and the broader Colorado community. Network maps in particular help convey complex ideas about relationships in a way that makes intuitive sense! 

The project was jointly funded by the CO Department of Public Health & Environment, the Colorado Trust, and the CO Department of Human Services. 

The results of the PARTNER evaluation helped them tell their story to stakeholders and the community

We found that 63% of relationships mapped in our analysis were attributed to the work of Colorado’s ECC’s. Furthermore, each of the twelve Councils received a full report on their networks. These included relationship quality metrics like value and trust to help network leaders guide their strategy for improvement. The results helped demonstrate ECC success to their funders and stakeholders, while also providing them a roadmap for the future!

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