The 2011 CPWD 704 Report
The “704 Report” is the annual federal report we make to the Department of Education and to the state of Colorado about our performance. It is a very bureaucratic document, but we have made it available for our consumers and the public to see. It is a public document, named after the “Title VII” section that authorizes our federal funding.
You may examine this document at: http://www.cpwd-ilc.org/download/704/2011-704.htm
One general picture you can get of CPWD from our 704 is how many people we have worked with over the past reporting year, from October 1st to September 30th. This year our 704 shows that we have worked with 716 fewer people than we did last reporting period (Oct 2009 to Sept 2010). Our 2010 year total was 1380 and this year the total is 664. If you are just focused on big numbers you may think that we really fell short this year; however, we believe that these numbers actually show some great progress.
Total Consumers 2008 - 2011
There are three things that we have changed this year that have really impacted this report. First is we have shifted our reporting emphasis achieving goals rather than reporting time spent. Secondly, CPWD has a new commitment to real numbers and real time in reporting, and finally we have a new online database tool for our reporting.
The change to reporting goals is to better track our outcomes in Independent Living while still being able to report what we do with our time and the federal funds. The change is looking more at what people accomplish rather than how staff spends their time. In the past CPWD had used a database tool that was focused on keeping track of contacts with people and provided this long list of services that may describe what we did with individuals. The sum of all these interactions may show generally how someone was working for independence, but often it only showed a disharmonious collection of events.
Focusing on goals not only clearly illustrates what our role as an Independent Living Center will be, but it directly challenges people to work for equality and for individuals to define success. It also allows for disappointment and the essential and valuable lessons one can learn from failure.
Goal Success Rate.
Of course by emphasizing goals we can also assist and teach the necessary components of success. We have not developed this direction to claim our consumers’ accomplishments for ourselves; as a matter of fact, most goals are in progress and will teeter on collapse. Most goals will change and many will be abandoned. This year however, our 704 report shows significantly more people setting and meeting their goals (27%), and an overwhelming number of our consumers have developed an Independent Living plan with goals (81%). This is up from a 10% goal success rate in 2009, with only 17% of consumers developing an Independent Living Plan.
Still the numbers can be discouraging; going from 1380 to 664 looks like a huge step backward. Actually this change represents CPWD’s new focus on real numbers. In the past our database would keep track of anyone we worked with or called us and we “opened” a Consumer Service Record (CSR) for them. Literally thousands of people contacted us and successful or not we had no reason to “close” their record. We had no reason to keep it open either, except maybe years later they may have another issue and there was the CSR ready to go. We also had a bias about closing, it sounds so negative and final.
CPWD Records Closed 2008 - 2011
Starting back in 2009 we began to incrementally close the CSRs we had created and lost contact with the individual. Before 2008 we would typically close between a 15% and 25% of the consumer files. In 2009 we closed about 45% and last year we closed over half of the total of active consumers. What CPWD learned was rather than less, this condensing of records made us more responsive and aware of the people we work with. Rather than a long list of faceless consumers, each staff had a much more reasonable number of people they work with.
Five and ten years ago a new CPWD staff member would suddenly be looking at a list of two-hundred consumers of which they may only know a handful. That is what happened to me back in 2004. I felt my job as an Independent Living Adviser was to be the caretaker of that huge list, not to get to know all the people personally or recognize them in public. Now, there are very few consumers that a CPWD staff member has not met personally and I would guess that any individual staff member would recognize each of the people they work with if they happen to get on the same bus.
The true advantage to real numbers however is that it better describes what we do and who works with CPWD. The numbers we report now are people we know and are currently working with. The fact is we have much more demand than CPWD can supply, but that is more evident now with our commitment to real numbers and reporting outcomes. Staff spends more time, and more quality time with each individual. The staff can use the record to “tell a story” about each individual’s struggle toward independence rather than just list services and time.
And the closed file problem is gone. If we don’t work with someone in the reporting period, we don’t report it, but we don’t have to close their file for this fact to be in our reports. We also don’t have to talk with people about what this means because closing your file has an unwanted connotation while achieving your goal is certainly what we want.
Number of goals set 2008 - 2011
The final part of this new emphasis on accuracy and outcomes is that CPWD is using CIL Suite as our online reporting tool. This new database helps us to track outcomes and goals and we can report accurately what we need to report to organizations that provide us funding. The numbers reporting predisposition of our previous database led us to think of the database as just holding numbers. Now we can use our reporting tool and new emphasis on goals to show more accurately what we do as an organization.
Additionally, CPWD does not have any reason to look at our consumers as numbers. Our reporting tool helps us to understand each person and that individual’s Consumer Service Record will be more of a reflection of them and less of a collection of numbers, dates and times.
There is actually a lot more to the 704 Report. The Center’s goals and direction, what we feel our needs are and what we plan to do to change our community. Mostly I hope you see that this report shows how CPWD is working in partnership with people to obtain and maintain choices for independent living by promoting self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunity. That is our mission.
The Community Organizer for CPWD