System improvement is the primary objective of AOK Networks. The AOK Networks Conceptual Framework illustrates and describes how AOK Networks use a system improvement approach to improve system outcomes (e.g., access, coordination, equity) which in turn can improve child and family outcomes. Across the state, many refer to this effort as community systems development. AOK Networks refer to their efforts as system improvement because it captures their system change, system building, and network capacity efforts.
AOK Networks define system improvement as the ongoing process of increasing the capacity and effectiveness of the local early childhood system to function as a whole in order to improve system access, coordination, and equity in ways that synergistically improve outcomes for children and families. Through system building and system change approaches, AOK Networks seek to improve the early childhood system’s function, alignment, and habits. AOK Networks use four approaches to improve the early childhood system: human-centered design, system change, system building, and continuous improvement and adaptive action.
Human-Centered Design: Engaging the people who are experiencing the problem in solving the problem means parents and providers are critical partners in creating a better service delivery system.
Systems Change: System change efforts seek to permanently change how the system functions and behaves by targeting powerful system leverage points that can transform the system. AOK Networks do this by:
- Engaging diverse stakeholders to understand system problems,
- Designing and implementing strategies that target system root causes,
- Continuously learning what is and is not working, and
- Adapting efforts until the desired results are achieved.
System Building: AOK Networks seek to build a more coherent, cross-sector system of services and supports by establishing and/or improving six essential system components:
- Early Identification
- Public Information and Education
- Information and Referral
- Service Needs and Utilization
- Workforce Training and Development
- State and Local Policy
Another important aspect of AOK Networks’ system building approach is to build upon local strengths, successes, and resources. This includes identifying and adapting successful strategies both locally and from other places, and aligning mutually-reinforcing strategies with related local initiatives.
Continuous Improvement & Adaptive Action: Engaging in an ongoing process of learning what works and what does not, then adapting plans and actions for greater impact. The process includes iterative cycles of Planning, Implementing, Learning, and Adapting (PILA) which is applied to all assessment, planning, and action phases of the work.