April 1, 2016
Written by: Audra O’Connell, Impact, Inc.
For many non-profits, building the IT foundation to advance its mission and better serve its community can be challenging and impossible to navigate. As non-techies, it’s difficult to comprehend what you need, let alone find a funding source for these sorts of investments in your operations. It’s also hard to share with funders how this sort of infrastructure can change the game in your organization and more importantly, the community as a whole. These were challenges IMPACT 2-1-1 faced until United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and Skyline Technologies stepped in to help improve our Coordinated Entry database. They understood why it was needed and the impact it could have in our efforts to change homelessness in Milwaukee.
The new database takes the guess work out of which client can access which emergency shelter. Now, with a few clicks of a mouse, we can see all the matched available options for a person based on their needs. While the database is still in its testing phase, we know this system will save a minimum of one full-time employee. That translates into one full-time staff person being able to take calls, rather than spend time manually scoring client vulnerability assessments and coordinating placements. It will also help eliminate any human error, as well as alert staff when there is a potential issue (possible mental health crisis, domestic violence, human trafficking concern, etc.).
We are also excited about the data IMPACT will now be able to collect through this database because it could change the fabric of our community as a whole. Imagine being able to define how many homeless individuals we have in Milwaukee County on any given day and the percentages of those with disabilities and what those disabilities are. As we move into building prevention and diversion opportunities for those on the cusp of homelessness, having access to real-time data including income level, family makeup, disabilities, and reasons for needing intervention are a way to make the process more efficient. Social service agencies will have a place to find real-time, unduplicated, data about unmet needs, for example, while trying to determine where resources should be allocated to help the most people or to address a need that isn’t already being served. The Coordinated Entry database will allow for all of these things. I believe it will change how we serve the homeless of Greater Milwaukee and how the community uses data and technology to make informed decisions to better and more efficiently serve the needs within our neighborhoods.
Learn more about Coordinated Entry.
Learn more about the new database project.