While AOK Networks primarily focus their efforts on system improvements, they do so with the intention of improving outcomes for the children and families in their communities. With the Child and Family Outcome Initiative, AOK Network focus on a specific set of related child and family outcomes to target for improvement. Then they engage in a system assessment to understand the ways in which they can improve the service system to help families improve these outcomes. There is a more specific community assessment, planning, and action process for this initiative.
Through the community assessment, AOK Networks assess child and family outcomes found in the Developmental Pathway as well as local community demographics and conditions. Communities gather data to understand how children and families are doing related to outcomes for healthy births, safety, health, development, and kindergarten readiness. They also assess for family outcomes that support the health and development of young children. By the end of the assessment AOK Networks prioritize a set of related child and family outcomes related to one of the core child impact areas: Babies are Born Healthy, Young Children are Safe, Healthy, and Developing Positively, and Children are Kindergarten Ready. Their prioritized set of targeted outcomes are referred to as their Targeted Problem.
Next, AOK Networks engage in a system assessment to understand how programs and the service system can be improved to better support children and families in reaching the targeted outcomes. This assessment includes talking with diverse stakeholders including providers, parents/caregivers, and others from the community, about system access, coordination, equity, and/or parents as partners issues. After gathering this information, they engage in a root cause analysis to make sense of the complex set of dynamic and interrelated issues that get in the way of families accessing services. By the end of the system assessment, specific system issues and their root causes are prioritized for action.
Once AOK Networks know which system issues they want to address, they begin to design strategies to create the desired improvements. The strategy design process integrates the four system improvement approaches: engaging parents in the design process, addressing system root causes to permanently change the system, focusing on system building components that are relevant to the initiative, and continuously improving their strategy experimentation and adaptation.
As part of the strategy design process, AOK Networks also develop strategies for creating the conditions for effective implementation. This includes making sure they have strategies for stakeholder buy-in and support of the strategy, a means to monitor and support effective implementation, they are working at an appropriate scale and dose to create the desired changes, and that they are intervening in the system in many ways and places so that the change is more likely to be sustained. A program plan captures all the details that flow out of the design process.
Implementation and Continuous Improvement & Adaptive Action
Implementation begins as soon as plans are written. More than taking action per the plan, AOK Networks pay close attention to the implementation process and impact. The complexity of the issues being addressed can never be met with absolute confidence that any strategy will fully meet the objective. Knowing this, AOK Networks engage in a continuous process of learning what is and is not working using a process referred to as PILA (i.e., Prepare, Implement, Learn, Adapt) to course-correct quickly and effectively. PILA cycles are used iteratively until the desired result is achieved.