What's Inside?
messagefromA Message from our President & CEO

This newsletter features updates on projects and training we have wrapped up recently, including the monumental Child and Youth Longitudinal Project that concluded this year.  This project could not have been possible without  the support, expertise, and insights of our ministry partners, who worked in collaboration with our PolicyWise team.  We are proud and honoured to have worked in partnership with the Government of Alberta on this project and we look forward to collaborating on many data initiatives in the future

As one project comes to its conclusion, another project is just beginning. Working in collaboration with the Alberta Nonprofit Network and the Alberta Ministry of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, PolicyWise is helping to advance work on the Alberta Nonprofit Data Strategy. We are focused on finding new ways to leverage our unique data services to nonprofits and stakeholders, while also  connecting with our new ministry partners and looking at new ways that we can support their evidence needs.

We invite you to Save-the-Date for our upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) on September 27, 2019, where we'll be sharing more project highlights and acknowledging the contributions of the Alberta Ministry of Children's Services in building research capacity in Alberta. We will be inviting researchers to tell their story about how the funding has made a difference to their organizations and the communities in which they serve.  We invite the public to join us as we showcase projects we're working on or have completed  from 2018-2019.  This year's theme for our AGM will be mental health.  Registration and more AGM details will be made public very soon!

- Robyn Blackadar
Our AGM will be held at the YMCA Family Resource Centre in Edmonton.
CYDLfinalThe Child and Youth Longitudinal Project

Over the last decade, PolicyWise has conducted policy-relevant analyses on linked data to support decision-making for government, community organizations, and other stakeholders. In partnership with the Government of Alberta, the Child and Youth Longitudinal Project linked data across six ministries from over 20 programs for Albertans 0-30 years old over a 6-year period. All analyses and reports were generated in collaboration with our ministry partners, which benefitted from their insights. Over 20  population profiles were generated to help contextualize services used by children and youth in Alberta from 2005/06 to 2010/11. To explore which programs had high rates of overlap for children and youth across programs and time, access the  Program Overlap Matrix.  
In addition to the substantive work in past years, several research topics and reports emerged this last year: 
  • The Shared Clients report describes youth who are high users of multiple government systems (justice, emergency rooms and Income Support/AISH) and follows them across time to determine their outcomes. 
  • The Youth Homelessness report explores the risk factors leading to visible homelessness in Alberta's youth.
  • The Early Childhood Services report describes young children with disabilities' (preschool and kindergarten) educational achievement and mental health in grade 3 of elementary school.
  • The Child to Adult Transition report describes children and young adults with disabilities' trajectories as they change to adult supports (i.e., educational achievement and support use, health care use, corrections involvements, and homelessness).
  • The Integrated Mental Health Hubs report describes the proportion of youth who have received mental health diagnostic codes in Alberta and their experiences in the health, social, educational, and justice systems to inform the design of integrated youth mental health hubs.
While analyses of data from the Child and Youth Longitudinal Project are completed, the results and reports from this work will continue to be an important resource for stakeholders now and in the future. You can access resources from this project on our website.
DatastratThe Alberta Nonprofit Data Strategy

Stakeholders in the nonprofit community have repeatedly identified a need to better leverage data and evidence to improve client outcomes, client experience, operational efficiency and sustainability. 
PolicyWise has partnered with the Alberta Nonprofit Network (ABNN) and the Government of Alberta Ministry of Culture, Multiculturalism, and Status of Women to advance the Alberta Nonprofit Data Strategy. 
Through stakeholder engagement sessions and research that the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations (CCVO) conducted in 2018, nonprofit leaders identified a number of data-related challenges experienced in the sector. Of those, PolicyWise will be focusing on organizational capacity to collect and leverage quality data, addressing questions surrounding sharing data across organizations in the sector, and accessing government data to further the understanding of the nonprofit sector.
InHubsIntegrated Youth Service Hubs

Focus on integrated youth
services is gaining momentum in Alberta. There is a strong foundation of integrated service delivery in Alberta; however, these effective initiatives are often isolated. PolicyWise began working alongside existing initiatives that support youth to incorporate their lessons learned into the Integrated Hub model.

A six-phase, evidence-informed Implementation Framework is being refined by PolicyWise through practice-based learning. PolicyWise is currently engaging with 13 communities to develop their Integrated Hub Model. These communities are at varying phases in the implementation process across Alberta. Extensive evaluative activities are being conducted in each community to capture implementation and operational outcomes at a provincial level.
data2actionData to Action

On February 5 and June 4, 2019, PolicyWise, in partnership with the ABNN, facilitated two one-day Data to Action events in Edmonton and Calgary. 

Workshops were held to support data competency through learning and discussion in areas: 1) data as a strategic asset, 2) how to build foundational pieces for organizational data competencies, and 3) how to tell more compelling stories with data and evidence. Panel discussions were also held with speakers from leading nonprofit agencies in Alberta, to discuss successes, lessons, and solutions for the nonprofit sector. Many participants indicated they are eager to continue developing better data competency and are interested in future events like Data to Action. Click here for highlights, event resources, and pictures.
ruralThe Rural Mental Health Project
The Rural Mental Health project, launched in 2018 and led by the Canadian Mental Health Association ( CMHA) - Alberta Division, is dedicated to building mentally healthy rural communities in Alberta.

Over the last three years, "Community Animators" from up to 150 rural Alberta communities are being trained on how to convene/catalyze local stakeholders, including community members and elders, agencies, educators, and community associations, to collectively scan their current mental health landscape. Animators will also learn how to guide their communities to set priorities, generate solutions, and ultimately implement "transformational roadmaps" to build local mental health capacity.  Roadmaps will include action plans to strengthen the foundations of a mentally healthy community (i.e., identifying existing services and community strengths, promising practices, and strategic paths forward). Alongside this, Animators will be connected with each other and other provincial stakeholders through an online network to share resources, ideas, and inspiration.

PolicyWise has been contracted to conduct an ongoing evaluation across the three years of the project to support learning, reflection, and improvement in project implementation. In Year 1 (2019), the PolicyWise team (Nadine Taylor, Kirsten Boda, and Jennifer Medlock) is focused on two main areas:  1) Adapting and refining the training process for Animators: and,
2) Understanding and improving the overlap between the network and training. Work completed includes:
  • Rapid review of the literature to create an evaluation framework
  • Observation of Animator training sessions
  • Conducting surveys with Animators after attending training
  • Attending CMHA team and Advisory Committee meetings
Findings and considerations are fed back to CMHA in an ongoing fashion, allowing CMHA to shift directions when needed and make informed project planning decisions.
ECSdbyteEarly Childhood Services Data Byte

This research highlighted that, in the early years, families with children with severe disabilities were more likely to use family disability supports when their child was below expectations in school.  However, this use of early support services was less for families living in poorer neighborhoods (vs. richer neighborhoods). This difference in service use is important as early access to support is important for children with disabilities. Access the full Data Byte here.
AFNIGCCelebration of Data Analytics and Visualization to Tell a Story

On June 10th, we celebrated the research and results of the 11 participants from our 10-month training, Using Data Analytics & Visualization to Tell A Story. This training was sponsored and co-developed by the Alberta First Nations Information Governance Centre ( AFNIGC) and PolicyWise to build capacity in support of the principles of Ownership, Control, Access & Possession ( OCAPĀ©). Over 10-month course, we engaged in a series of 2-day, monthly training sessions to share with, and learn from, our First Nations and non-profit participants. We explored a wide range of topics within data analytics, research and evaluation, and visualization at an introductory level, including how to design research and analysis questions, quantitative and qualitative methods such as use of administrative data, surv eys and sharing circles, tools for analysis, and making an impact with evidence. The training was attended by an elder for several months, who shared her experiences and insights with the group.
Co-hosted by AFNIGC and PolicyWise, the day of celebration began with an opening ceremony with Elder Charles Wood and Elder Doris Courtoreille. All of the participants shared their research and results with special guests they invited from their communities and organizations, along with the past presenters and mentors who led the training. Our celebration wrapped up with reflections, dinner, honor songs, and a closing ceremony. Thank you to everyone for your participation in the training and joining us for the celebration!
  • REMINDER: The call for applications for the Youth Suicide Prevention Grant closed on July 31, 2019. However, if you are interested in participating as a reviewer for grants submitted to this competition, please contact Courtney Lundy, Business & Grants Manager, at grants@policwise.com.
  • In 2018, PolicyWise collaborated with the Maternal, Newborn, Child and Youth Strategic Network of Alberta Health Services, Alberta Community and Social Services, and Alberta Innovates to probe the boundaries of data sharing and linkage between health and non-health datasets. Access the final report details, lessons learned, and potential future avenues of exploration on our website.
  • Congrats to our partners at the Mental Health Foundation who announced their $5-million gift from the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation! We look forward to continuing our work together on the Integrated Youth Services initiative.
  • Meet our Step Students: Thomas, Jurina, and Fahad and learn about their experiences working with PolicyWise this summer!
eventsUpcoming Events

September 27:  PolicyWise AGM & Community Event (Edmonton, AB) - Registration details to follow