Last month, Third Sector joined over 300 social impact leaders in Denver for The Third Annual Conference of the Early Childhood Social Impact Performance Advisors. Hosted by the Institute for Child Success, ReadyNation, and the Sorenson Impact Center, the three-day conference explored how Pay for Success (PFS) can improve outcomes for children and families.
David Wilkinson, Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, opened the event by walking through the numerous ways PFS can improve the delivery of early childhood services. By trying interventions on a small scale before rolling out a larger program, PFS allows for innovative programs to be rolled out responsibly. By tying resources to specific outcomes instead of outputs, PFS disrupts the compliance-based funding mindset. And not least, PFS empowers governments and service providers to better use their data in service of people in need.
This benefit of PFS is exactly what was focused on in the Research and Evaluation Track, a series of sessions sponsored by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation.
The track emphasized that the program evaluation required by PFS projects, like many aspects of the model, is not a one-size-fits-all solution. The array of evaluation methodologies available to PFS stakeholders ensures evaluations can be tailored to the particular needs of different projects. Each method of evaluating a program, however, shares the lasting legacy of improved data analysis in government. Each can build trust amongst data owners in a PFS project, allowing them to break down data silos by integrating data across government agencies and providers.
The focus on improved data practices in Denver reflected the critical shift that has taken place in the PFS space. As Rick Edwards, Partner, highlighted, the PFS model is no longer understood to be a just a financing tool for social services. Rather, PFS is an innovative contracting model that can catalyze an outcomes orientation in government. The effects of a PFS project can thus extend well beyond the term of a single contract. The model introduces a performance mindset in government that can measurably improve the lives of children and families for years to come.
"PFS is an innovative contracting model that can catalyze an outcomes orientation in government."
Rick Edwards, Partner, works from Third Sector's Boston office.
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