Building an Effective Infrastructure

Module 6.5: Tracking Outcomes

Measuring FSS Program Success

Key FSS program measures include:

  • Changes in earnings
  • Growth of FSS escrow accounts
  • Increased education/training levels
  • Graduation rate
  • Length of stay in the program

As noted in Chapter 6.4, the section on FSS Reporting to HUD, PHAs must comply with the data submission requirements associated with the FSS Addendum and any FSS Notice of Funding Availability through which they have received funding.

Many FSS programs collect and analyze more than the required program data in order to track success of participants and to monitor program outcomes.

 View an example, used by Compass Working Capital

FSS Programs can also collect and analyze additional data in order to:

  • Gain better understanding of participant service needs
  • Meet internal program goals
  • Report to internal management boards or external funders
  • Provide rationale for funding applications
  • Promote the FSS program internally and externally
  • Refine and improve the FSS program

This video explains the value of data collection and analysis.

FSS © 2017 | U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Recommended FSS Data to Monitor

PHAs and owners may find it valuable to track data on a variety of participant and program outputs—which are the immediate results that indicate completion of a task, such as finishing a training program—and outcomes—which represent the longer-term changes that follow an activity, such as obtaining a promotion or pay increase. These include:

The information that follows list specific measures to track for each type of outcome.

(i) Number of Participants

Tracking participant information can help FSS programs estimate future FSS caseloads and provide justification to HUD for FSS coordinator funding and meeting minimum program size requirements.

Recommended participant data to track include:

  • Number of participants served over time
  • Percent of all residents enrolled in FSS
  • Ratio of households enrolled in FSS to households whose head is neither elderly nor a person with disabilities
  • Caseload of FSS coordinators and trends in caseloads over time

(ii) Changes in Employment and Income

FSS programs may wish to take a more in-depth look at changes in earnings and employment over time and across different segments of the FSS population.

Recommended data to track to understand changes in earnings/employment over time include:

  • Overall changes in household earnings since enrollment in FSS
  • Average annual earnings since enrollment
  • Changes in employment status
  • Changes in earnings by length of time in FSS
  • Changes in earnings for groups of FSS participants defined by starting earnings/employment level groups

(iii) Savings and Debt

Some FSS programs, especially for programs with a specific focus on building financial capability, may want to track participant information with regard to savings, debt, and credit over time.

Savings and debt measures include:

  • Amount of FSS escrow accumulated
  • Intended use of interim FSS escrow disbursements
  • Amount of savings acquired outside the escrow account
  • Amount of credit card debt and other forms of debt
  • Credit score

This video provides additional suggestions for monitoring participants’ financial capability and household stability.

(iv) Services Provided

FSS programs typically monitor and evaluate the services and resources provided to individual participants to ensure that their particular service needs are met.

In addition, FSS programs may wish to track the following:

  • Amount and types of services provided to all FSS participants (in order to find trends in participant needs and interests
  • Value of in-kind services provided to families

Click the arrows below to learn more about checking and estimating the value of leveraged services.

  • Value of Leveraged Services

    Many FSS programs have developed strategic partnerships with key partners to receive services at no cost.  There is value to these services and some PHAs use this value as leverage to obtain additional funding or resources.

    FSS programs may also wish to track the value of leveraged services as part of the partnership agreement with a service provider.  Service providers may have experience estimating the value of services for funding applications and can often provide estimates of the values of the services they provide.

  • Guidelines on how to Estimate Value of Leveraged Services

    FSS programs may need to develop their own estimates.

    • Coordinators can consider how much they would pay for specific services or goods on the open market.
    • Service providers can estimate the number of staff hours it takes to operate a program and multiply it by the cost of staff hours to the organization.
    • Some case management programs may have the ability to calculate and track the value of services received.

(v) Graduations and Other Participant Exits

Coordinators will need to track completion of FSS goals and determine whether participants are eligible to graduate from the program and access the funds in their escrow accounts.

FSS coordinators may also find it useful to track the progress of participants who leave the FSS program even if they cannot count them as FSS program graduates.

Recommended data to track on graduates and other program exits includes:

  • Number and percent of participants who graduate from the FSS program
  • Graduates’ changes in earnings and employment status
  • Escrow account levels at graduation
  • Intended use of escrow account funds at graduation
  • Number and percent of participants who voluntarily leave the FSS program
  • Number and percent of participants who are terminated from the FSS program
  • Change in Housing Assistance Payments to owners for HCV FSS participants between the time of enrollment in FSS and the time of graduation

Exit Meetings with Graduates

Exit surveys or closeout meetings with participants prior to graduation can help coordinators learn about the participant’s:

  • Experience in the FSS program
  • Suggestions for identifying FSS program successes and areas for improvement
  • Planned use of escrowed savings
  • Future plans for employment and economic stability

Tracking Participants after Graduation

Some FSS programs attempt to contact and survey participants after they graduate to gauge participant success after the program ends and to obtain participant feedback on the program.

Case Management Software

Case management software can be useful to support the service coordination of FSS participants. Case management software provides an automated way of keeping track of your meetings with clients and their progress in achieving their goals.

PHAs and owners that are already using existing property management software to track and report household data may be able to add case management or supportive services modules to their package.

Stand-alone case management software is also available. A few examples are listed here. (Note that inclusion on this page is for informational purposes only, and does not imply the endorsement of HUD or any other organization.)

  • FSS Pro by HAPPY Software for tracking participants, maintaining escrow accounts, and producing required paperwork.
  • Elite Family Self-Sufficiency module by Emphasys Software for assisting with administration of the FSS program.
  • Tracking-at-a-Glance by Designing Success for conducting a needs assessment and generating an ITSP based on the needs assessment, tracking FSS services and activities, and tracking and reporting specific outcome measures.
  • Efforts to Outcomes by Social Solutions for tracking client demographics and services, managing outcomes, and compliance reporting.
  • AASC Online – FSS by Pangea, designed to meet the unique needs of service coordinators working in senior and adult disability housing communities, provides automated outcomes tracking and real-time reporting.
  • Online Work Readiness Assessment Tool. While not designed specifically for FSS, this free downloadable software may be of value to FSS programs.  Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, this program was designed to help TANF agencies handle intake, assessment, development of a self-sufficiency plan, identification of career options, and reporting.

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