Policy Resource

Connecticut’s Use of a Results Based Accountability Framework to Improve Child and Family Outcomes

Jul 9, 2017

Connecticut state agencies have embraced Results-Based Accountability to improve the quality of life throughout the state, with an emphasis on improving the performance of state programs.

The Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet was selected by the state General Assembly in 2005 as one of two pilot projects for the use of Results-Based Accountability (RBA) in the budget process. RBA is an approach to plan, budget, and measure the performance of state programs that is centered on quality of life outcomes. It is grounded in three central questions: how much did we do; how well did we do it; and is anybody better off?

The Early Childhood Cabinet used the RBA framework to determine how well the state’s early childhood system was meeting its goal of all children Ready by Five and Fine by Nine. Specifically, it measured how well the early childhood system and its programs coordinated and delivered services, and whether Connecticut’s youngest children were better off as a result of those services. When the Cabinet began this accountability work in 2005, they were working with three programs to use RBA.

To assess whether programs are preparing children to be ready for kindergarten at age five, the Cabinet collected data across a variety of quality of life indicators for young children, including baseline data on all children born in 2006, the risk factors to which they are exposed and the services they receive, as well as data on well-child health care, trends in preschool attendance and skill assessment across domains upon kindergarten entrance. Additionally, the Cabinet worked to examine the early childhood system serving these children, with data on RBA expansion, investment and support of local capacity, data development, private foundation investment, and preschool quality improvements.

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has also embraced the RBA model as means to demonstrate program success, improve programs that the CSDE administers, and showcase these results to the legislature in a meaningful, easy way to understand.

The CSDE has begun development of an RBA model for the agency that will align with agency priorities. The model served as the structural foundation for the State Board of Education five-year Comprehensive Plan for Education from 2012 to 2017 as required by Connecticut’s General Statutes. Since embarking on this journey, the CSDE has been successful in using the RBA model with local grantees of Family Resource Centers, After School Programs, Youth Service Bureaus and Even Start Programs.

Updated July 2019.

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