Capstone Courses and Projects

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York (CCC) is a child advocacy organization that works to ensure that every child in New York City is healthy, housed, educated, and safe. In celebration of its 60th anniversary and in recognition of the pressing problems facing New York City’s children and families, CCC has formed a task force to catalyze advocacy efforts and develop a legislative agenda that would require city agencies to serve children with a cross-systems approach. The Capstone team conducted preliminary research and analysis to inform the task force. The team developed a policy brief based on interviews of 23 experts and research that identifies key areas of policy concern and best practices related to the issues of child care/early education child welfare, education, youth development, physical and mental health, housing, and economic security. The paper also provides recommendations on cross-sector streamlining and finance strategies to improve child well-being in New York City.

Family Justice Inc.

The Vital Elements of Family Justice’s Family Case Management Model
Family Justice is dedicated to aiding individuals under justice system supervision by supporting them and their families and working in partnership with government. Case management and other services are provided through La Bodega de la Familia, a storefront in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Family Justice is refining its Family Case Management model in its work with participants at La Bodega. A 2002 study by the Vera Institute of Justice demonstrated the effectiveness of La Bodega in reducing recidivism among participants. The Capstone team studied four elements of Family Justice’s Family Case Management model to identify those elements that contribute to successful outcomes and that could then be utilized by Family Justice for future implementation of the Family Case Management model in other communities. The Capstone team tested the following four elements: Family Justice’s emphasis on relationships; partnerships between family case managers and parole and probation officers; the importance of being located in the participants’ community; and the development and use of the genogram and action plan tools. Through standardized surveys and interviews of Family Justice staff, participants and their families, government partners, law enforcement officials, and funders, the Capstone team assessed the importance of the four elements from each of the stakeholder’s perspective. The team used that information to develop recommendations, assisting Family Justice in refining its Family Case Management model and providing qualitative information that supports Family Justice in advocating for implementation of its model at local, state, and national policy levels.

Legal Information for Families Today

Evaluation of LIFT’s Information Services
The Capstone team focused on evaluating the information services provided by Legal Information for Families Today (LIFT) at tables positioned in five Family Court locations in New York City. The project was centered on helping LIFT improve this process by 1) designing and piloting an impact evaluation model using client satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and a judicial survey, and 2) developing a more meaningful data collection system so that LIFT can identify the population it serves and their needs. The team generated quantitative and qualitative data through interviews, site observations, focus groups, and surveys. In addition, the team analyzed demographic data previously compiled by LIFT through its current data collection tool. The team developed surveys for litigants and tested and implemented survey distribution collection at the information tables. It also developed a method for recruiting focus group participants at family court, wrote a focus group script, and conducted a focus group of litigants. The team created judicial surveys and coordinated the mailing of surveys to family court judges. Finally, the team redesigned the data collection tool to be used at the information tables. It utilized its findings to generate a comprehensive report that identifies methods to measure the impact that LIFT has on litigants and the judicial system and to continuously track the needs of litigants through data collection. The report includes recommendations for ongoing impact evaluations and data collection.

Palladia Inc.

Women with Children in Substance Abuse Treatment Programs
Palladia Inc. is a not-for-profit multi-service agency that specializes in working with individuals and families affected by substance abuse. Recently, New York State developed a new work protocol for drug treatment providers to comply with the Adoption for Safe Families Act legislation. As a result, Palladia wants to comprehend the family situations of the women in their substance abuse treatment programs to determine if there are any treatment implications or required program changes. The Capstone team will develop a comprehensive report summarizing the family backgrounds and circumstances of women with children currently in treatment for substance abuse. The goal of this project is to produce a comprehensive study that Palladia may use to assess whether work practices in their substance abuse programs need to be modified. The team will recommend core questions for extracting data on the clients’ family circumstances and child welfare issues. Palladia will include these questions in its case management software and make them part of its standard intake protocol. Moreover, the Capstone team will recommend a follow-up Capstone project that will expand on this year’s project and focus on expanding data collection, performing more intensive client interviews, and suggesting further intake recommendations.

Safe Horizon

Safe Horizon Techology Assessment
Every nonprofit organization has a mission. Many nonprofit organizations also constantly struggle to maintain and increase funding in order to carry out their missions to the fullest extent possible. More often than not, when a nonprofit organization receives new or increased funding, it is put towards expanding or creating new programs that further its mission. However, when this happens there is often a price because many nonprofits see programming as a higher priority than office infrastructure, which is often overlooked to the point where it starts to affect how programs could be implemented. This is a phenomenon that occurs not only in small start-up nonprofit organizations, but in large established ones as well. Safe Horizon is one of the nations’ largest nonprofit organizations, serving the approximately eight million residents of New York City and operating more than 80 programs focused on victim services. It is constantly pressed to deal with growing and varying critical constituent needs, to the point where it can fall victim to the aforementioned scenario. Using surveys and focus groups, this study assessed the impact that an under-attended infrastructure can have on program implementation. Recommendations derived from the study’s data are meant to highlight possible strategies for developing and extending the viability of technology infrastructure within a nonprofit environment. It is also intended to introduce the possibility of extending this model of assessment to other programs and nonprofit organizations.