OPSI COVID-19 Innovative Response Tracker

Our Tomorrows- COVID-19 Module

Innovative response

Our Tomorrows launched a new SenseMaker framework to establish a rapid feedback loop for citizens to share their experiences with COVID-19 and the impact it has on their families. Stories that are shared contribute to a state-wide Story Bank hosted by the Kansas Children's Cabinet and Trust Fund. State-level decision-makers and community organizations across the state may access the Story Bank and analysis provided by the Our Tomorrows team to craft intervention strategies and rapidly respond to virus-related developments.

Our Tomorrows data is focused on rapidly returning stories, key patterns, and thought provoking themes to people at multiple levels in the early childhood system to inform COVID-19 Response. Returned data and analysis is meant to be short and simple to resonate with decision-makers. An example: A child care provider shared their experience of running out of milk for the children due to the quantity restrictions that grocery stores have placed on staple items during the crisis. Due to the same restrictions, dairy farmers have been disposing of excess milk. When the narrative reached state-level leadership, the issue of provider demand and farmer supply was quickly addressed through coordinated state action. By sharing their story through Our Tomorrows, the provider was able to meet their needs.

Our Tomorrows is also developing support in three areas: narrative intervention, complexity-informed decision-making, and community-level decision-making. Narrative intervention seeks to help governments and organizations craft stronger and more inclusive narratives to bring people together during times of crisis. Complexity-informed decision-making utilizes heuristics from complexity science to support new methods of intervention. Community decision-making support includes Community Sensemaking Workshops, group problem definition, and citizen engagement strategies.

Specific issues addressed and anticipated impact

Our Tomorrows seeks to help governments monitor the ever-evolving conditions through the lens of citizen experiences. By keeping a pulse on what is happening with communities, government can be more responsive and responsible. Our Tomorrows provides this solution via continuous collection and a rapid feedback loop of reports containing relevant experiences and data. Additionally, Our Tomorrows provides an early warning system to decision-makers, allowing them to better anticipate the needs of their communities, rather than waiting for worrying trends to amplify with catastrophic results.

Organisations/institutions involved

University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research, The Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, the Kansas Department of Children and Families, the Kansas Department of Education, and the Kansas Office of the Governor.

Local community partners assisting with recruitment of respondents include Child Advocacy & Parenting Services, Inc., Child Care Aware, Community Health Council of Wyandotte County, Finney County United Way, Four County Mental Health Center, Immunize Kansas Coalition, Kansas Breastfeeding Coalition, Kansas Children's Service League, Kansas Post Adoption Resource Center, Kansas Deaf-Blind Project, LiveWell Northwest Kansas, Parents as Teachers – Lawrence, Project Eagle, Sedgwick County Health Department, the Family Resource Center, TOP Early Learning Centers, Topeka Housing Authority, Topeka Rescue Mission - Children's Palace, United Way of Greater Topeka, Unified School District 218, and Elkhart Public Schools.

Potential issues

The data return policy and decision-making support strategies are emergent practice. Implementing these strategies with an ongoing SenseMaker story bank has not been done before and we are interested in any ideas for how to return the information quickly, efficiently, and log how it has been used.

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Level(s) of government:
  • Regional/State government
  • Private Sector
  • Non-Profit/Civil Society

Issues being addressed:

  • Information and practice sharing (with public and/or internal)
  • Governance responses
  • Real-time data collection, sharing, and analysis
  • Public service delivery under new circumstances
  • Social effects of the crisis

Response contact:

[email protected]