Innovation Lab established the Research Group to foster interdepartmental discussion of research projects, encourage collaborative research, explore new ideas, and disseminate research and results throughout the agency. These monthly meetings bring together a diverse group of CAP employees who share an interest in delving deeply into the data and challenging each other with new ideas. Through Research Group, we accept our collective responsibility to actively engage in discussions with respectful and constructive feedback, bring relevant projects to a broad audience, and share research results and best practices across departments.
Healthy Women, Healthy Futures
For an agency like CAP Tulsa, whose core strategy to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty is early childhood education, the health of each child we serve is critically important. Research shows that when babies are born premature or underweight, they have higher risk for negative health outcomes throughout their entire lives. The major risk factors for prematurity, low birthweight, and infant mortality, are related to the health of the mom even before she becomes pregnant, and include pre-pregnancy obesity, poor nutrition, stress, smoking, alcohol, drugs, lack of exercise, and chronic illness like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, and depression.
To help combat this issue, CAP Tulsa’s Innovation Lab collaborated with the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing in Tulsa to develop Healthy Women, Healthy Futures (HWHF) in 2008. HWHF improves the pre-pregnancy health of mothers living in poverty by increasing protective factors and reducing risk factors that diminish health before they become pregnant again. The goal of HWHF is for women and their future children to experience the best possible birth outcomes, preferably term births and a normal birth weight.
OU College of Nursing staff and its partners offer HWHF at Eastgate, Frost, McClure, Sand Springs and Skelly early childhood centers, as well as at Educare I. Services include comprehensive screenings, individualized coaching from an RN to develop and follow a health and lifecourse plan, health and nutrition education classes taught by RNs at the early childhood centers, access to low-cost ongoing basic health care services at partnering agencies, support and assistance from a health navigator, low-cost vision exams and glasses, low-cost dental exams, and counseling for mental health issues.
The Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP) named HWHF a “promising practice”: in 2011. For more on Healthy Women, Healthy Futures please visit: HWHF at the OU College of Nursing.
Researchers have taken a keen interest in understanding how social networks can increase people’s likelihood of achieving goals. CAP has been interested in this question for some time. Innovation Lab led the development of several pilot projects related to understanding and mapping social networks of the families served by CAP Tulsa. Lab remains committed to infusing the agency’s efforts with attention to the power of social networks to promote positive outcomes and meaningful connections to the community
McClure Classroom Connections: Families in six classrooms at the McClure early childhood center were asked whether they knew other parents in their child’s classroom. They were also asked about sources of support they had outside the classroom– people they could rely on for help. This data was analyzed and mapped by Professor Matt Bowler at OSU-Tulsa. The results offered our first glimpse into our families’ social networks, and told us that classrooms did indeed tend to include a well-connected “network weaver” or two that many other parents knew, and that parents with strong external networks tended not to build many connections to parents in their child’s classroom. These findings illuminate for us the opportunities we have to help families build new networks.
Cohort Enrollment: Innovation Lab directed a pilot project in which CAP offered parents of two-year olds an opportunity to recruit other families with eligible two-year olds and enroll at McClure early childhood center as a cohort, or team. Two teams enrolled in fall 2012. Members of one team knew each other prior to enrollment; members of the other team were connected to the “team captain” but not to each other prior to enrollment. While team members did encourage each other to engage in CAP programming, working parents in each cohort were not able to connect with others as much as non-working members. A key take-away from this pilot was that families may not necessarily connect with each other without a specific objective or reason to do so.
CAP Book Club: Innovation Lab organized a book study group to read and discuss Unanticipated Gains: Origins of Network Inequality in Everyday Life, by Mario Small. The book shares fascinating findings of how child care centers create, sometimes intentionally and sometimes not, opportunities for families to develop a variety of social connections. As a result, many families access resources they otherwise would not be able to access and generate improvements in their material condition.
Aligning Strategies in the Classroom with Strategies in Parenting
CAP Tulsa is committed to offering evidence-based programming to help parents gain knowledge of parenting skills and child development that prepare them for raising healthy and successful children. The agency is also committed to equipping teachers with evidence-based approaches to working with children in the classroom, such as helping children cope with the different emotions they may feel throughout the day. Innovation Lab is leading a cross-departmental team in reviewing the agency’s current approaches to training parents and teachers, gathering information on other evidence-based programs for parents and for teachers, and developing a recommendation for ensuring the agency’s approach with parents and with teachers align.
CAP Tulsa + IDEO.org
CAP Tulsa families express a high degree of need and interest in a variety of services. In response, we offer a range of programs, some light-touch, low-intensity and others high-touch and intensive with multiple supports and benefits for families. Take-up and persistence in many of these offerings, however, are often lower than the organization would like. To address this issue, CAP Tulsa engaged IDEO.org to apply its “human-centered design” process, to more deeply understand CAP Tulsa’s target population and their context and articulate a set of principles to help us design for parent engagement across programs.
Human-centered design is based on a fundamental belief in paying attention to the spoken and unspoken needs of the people an organization serves. The project followed IDEO.org’s signature sequence of Inspiration, Ideation and Implementation. For two weeks, the IDEO.org project team immersed itself in Tulsa and the current, target market for CAP Tulsa services. The team synthesized its research to identify strategic opportunities to improve parent engagement, and then invited the CAP Tulsa team to create and prioritize four prototypes for testing in the field. At the end of the prototype, we learned valuable lessons about what motivates families and how families respond to the different parts that make up CAP Tulsa. The engagement also illuminated for Innovation Lab a new and fun way to think about program design and innovation!
You can read more about our work with IDEO.org by following the links below.
For information on these and other Innovation Lab research projects contact Monica Barczak, Director of Innovation Lab, firstname.lastname@example.org, 918-382-3265.