- CAP Tulsa Research Group
- CAP + IDEO.org
- Social Networks
- Economic Self-Sufficiency for English Language Learners
- Rental Housing
- Parent Relationships
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.
CAP families express a high degree of need and interest in a variety of services. In response, CAP offers 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 engaged IDEO.org to apply its “human-centered” design process to more deeply understand CAP’s target population and their context and articulate a set of principles to help CAP 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 services. The team synthesized its research to identify strategic opportunities to improve parent engagement, and then invited the CAP team to create and prioritize four prototypes for testing in the field. At the end of the prototype CAP learned valuable lessons about what motivates families and how families respond to the different parts that make up CAP.
The engagement also illuminated for Innovation Lab a new and fun way to think about program design and innovation!
IDEO: Breaking the Cycle of Intergenerational Poverty
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, and drawing on the literature in the field has led to exploring the basics of social network theory and mapping. Innovation Lab has led the development of several pilot projects related to social networks and has plans to increase the agency’s capacity to leverage and strengthen our family networks to improve their chances at success and develop meaningful connections in their communities.
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 the networks they currently have – people they could rely on for help. This data is being analyzed and mapped by Professor Matt Bowler at OSU-Tulsa. The results will be our first glimpse into our families’ social networks and will help us understand where there are opportunities to emphasize the use of existing networks and where we might be able to help families build new networks.
Cohort Enrollment: 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. Innovation Lab meets with the teams on a regular basis to talk about whether and how they stay in touch and support each other in the program. We are also looking at certain child and family outcomes for the teams.
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.
CAP believes that when parents are successful their children are more likely to achieve economic success and escape poverty. Approximately one-third of CAP families do not speak English. Of these, around 98% speak Spanish. A lack of English proficiency is a significant barrier to employment and education. Innovation Lab is working to identify best practices and innovative ways to serve English Language Learners in the areas of education and employment skills so these families have a better chance at achieving economic self-sufficiency. In addition, the Lab is conducting research with our families to understand their needs in this area and identify solutions that are meaningful and culturally appropriate to the population.
A key prerequisite for child success is a level of stability not just in the family’s economic life but also in its physical life. CAP believes when families have safe, stable and affordable housing they have a better foundation to support their children’s development. Housing stability is also expected to lead to more consistency in a children’s education as they do not have to move from school to school, which research shows can be highly disruptive. The large majority of CAP families rent homes or apartments. Innovation Lab is working to understand how CAP can be most effective at helping families identify housing solutions that support our efforts to promote successful child development.
Research is clear that on average, a two-parent household provides a better foundation, especially economically, for a child’s development than does a single-parent household. In this research project Innovation Lab is charged with scanning the environment for best practices to determine our role in helping develop and strengthen parental relationships.
For information on these and other Innovation Lab research projects contact Monica Barczak, Director of Innovation Lab, email@example.com, 918-382-3265.