Community Collaboratives

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Interested in creating a community-wide information system? ... Only data sharing can enable outcome measurement across organizations

♦ Protect data confidentiality
♦ Enable data sharing through proper authorization
♦ Support organizational changes as your community initiative evolves
♦ Support robust parent consent 

The main purpose of a community-wide information system is to support interactions with many service providers to deliver a comprehensive, longitudinal perspective on each child, leveraging data and technology to provide better, faster and continuously improved services. Organizations leverage COMET’s comprehensive, longitudinal community database offering through the efforts of Partner Organizations that work together on common goals in a Community Data Sharing Initiative or Consortium

The needs of a community are unique and require a flexible, integrated systems approach. COMET offers a solution focused around your community's goals and indicators. We're always excited to learn about new approaches being utilized to move communities forward and improve outcomes - including Collective Impact and Strive models. A proven resource for supporting collaborative projects, COMET can support your community and its need for a secure, adaptable and open platform.

For over 50 years, our partner Children's Institute has been working with communities to improve outcomes for children - and that experience has informed the development of COMET and makes what we offer unique. We bring expertise in evaluation and community partnerships to create a backbone technology that can grow and change according to your community's priorities, from early childhood education to high school graduation to workforce readiness. Looking for mentor-activity tracking, case management, longitudinal analysis, trend reports, community level data mapping, progress monitoring and other features? We would be happy to talk with you, do a fit assessment and help you on your journey to a more collaborative community.

Community Data Sharing with COMET - Key Concepts

In Community Data Sharing Initiatives, participants share information regarding children they serve. It is essential to consider how the sharing is managed and authorized and which information is shared.

Data Owners: Data Owners: are partner organizations that directly interact with children and record child-driven information in COMET. These organizations "own" the data they record in an explicit or implicit agreement of confidentiality with each child parent [e.g.: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for schools].

Data Seekers: Data Seekers are partner organizations that are interested in accessing Data Owner's child-related information either in aggregated, de-identified or identifiable format. Commonly, Data Seekers are also Data Owners, but not necessarily (e.g.: funding organizations like United Way, County or City services).

Information Sharing:

Aggregated reports: Typically, such reports may pull data from multiple Data Owners and consolidate / aggregate the counts accordingly. For example, a report may provide the count of unique children that are actively engaged and are receiving services from all Data Owner partners during a given period. These reports are usually authorized through the data sharing agreement between the service provider partners.

De-identified child-level reports or data extraction: Typically, such reports are used for research purposes. Records are de-identified meaning that they do not contain any data element that would allow to identify a child (e.g.: name, ID, phone #, email address, etc.) and in some cases there is a need to mask some demographics (there may be only 1 Pacific Islander leaving in Zip code 12345). These reports need to be authorized through the data sharing agreement between the service providers.

Identifiable child level records: Typically this data sharing is provided between service providers to inform their practice. For example, an after-school program may access the school district academic records to address individual child needs. Such data sharing commonly requires valid parent consent and a clear authorization from the Data Owner.

Valid parent consent often requires: proper disclosure to the parent, the ability for the parent to revoke consent and an expiration date.

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Would you like more information about COMET's support of Community Collaboratives?

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Notable Features

There's so much important information about children and youth; track it all with COMET!

One of the trickiest parts of working with data is managing all that information - keeping it organized, up to date and easy to access. COMET knows that quality outcome evaluation starts with clean data. Manage your data with ease, including the following features:

  • Identify and merge duplicate records with one-click
  • Track longitudinal student/member data over time
  • Over 100 student/member data fields available
  • Add new fields to student/member records to track your unique information
  • Supports multiple IDs for a single student/member - for example: a program ID, school ID and state ID

Track progress and demonstrate outcomes using reliable data.

The screening, pre-post assessment, and testing capability in COMET allows you to evaluate child and youth progress in real-time. Educators and providers at all levels agree that individual assessment and program evaluation are two best practices needed to deliver quality programs and improve outcomes. COMET offers multiple assessment, testing and screening options that are intuitive and easy to get started with. COMET can help you collect the data you need to inform policy at all levels and truly make a difference in the lives of the children and youth you serve. 

  • Individual assessment for children and youth
  • Monitor response progress to increase completion rates
  • Aggregate data to report at the group level
  • Individual pre- and post-assessment reporting to support instruction
  • Group pre- and post-assessments to evaluate program effectiveness
  • Screen students for RtI and/or benchmark an intervention's progress
  • Summarize and report assessment results with a few clicks
  • Share data with stakeholders to inform decision-making
  • Think long-term and track data longitudinally to understand trend

What is 'Individual Assessment'?

Collecting data on the individual children and youth you serve, beyond just demographics, is critically important. For example, an individual assessment, collected multiple times throughout a program (generally at the start and at the end) will help you gage an individual's progress. Results can be aggregated to learn about the program as a whole, or use that child-level data to understand how each program member is doing.

What is 'Program Evaluation'?

At its most basic, program evaluation is answering questions. The most common question is - does my program work? Demonstrating the impact you make with your programs is not as hard as it seems. The COMET system and our team are here to support you as you get started with evaluation. But first, you need to know what your question is. How are effective approaches determined? Screening is the first step because it leads to early identification of at-risk children and youth. Real-time feedback is an effective tool for developing plans and interventions. But, assessment and testing are important at the group level, too. Use aggregate data to track progress and inform decision-making.

Record and report on who is attending your programs with ease. Simplify complex attendance requirements with COMET. Schools and youth service providers are required to record and report attendance, and those requirements are becoming more complex every year. Paper records are time-consuming to summarize and the data is often unreliable. Other attendance systems can be complicated and expensive to set-up. The COMET attendance module is user-friendly and supports the simplest to most advanced attendance tracking needs. Features:
  • Choose from 9 customizable attendance recording formats
  • Record not just present/absent but the duration of time spent in a program or activity
  • Extensive reporting options to meet funder and policy-maker requirements
  • Built-in features to identify duplicates and merge records
  • Track staff and volunteer hours all in one system
  • Record attendance at multiple sites for multiple programs, down to activity and classroom
  • Cleaner data thanks to features for identifying incomplete records
  • Captures instructional time, time on task and program dosage
  • Record attendance for parents at engagement activities or one-on-one sessions
  • For therapy or intervention services: track one-one-one and small group sessions
  • Enable 'electronic signature' for records that require a supervisor's sign-off
Reporting is what makes data useful. The COMET team believes in making data useful and accessible for our users. The path to improving outcomes starts with evaluating programs so we know what works, and what doesn't. Evaluating programs requires collecting the right data but also reporting on it in meaningful ways. Standard Reports: Available to all customers, COMET comes equipped with a library of standard report formats that can meet most of our customer's needs. These reports are available for assessment & test data, attendance records, administrative tasks, notes and student/user management. Examples include: Pre-Post for individual and group Response grid and histograms Average daily attendance Attendance trends Demographics, etc. Advanced Reports: The COMET System has an advanced reporting module which allows the user to pick and choose from hundreds of data fields what they would like included in a report. Combined with smart filtering, this module makes it possible for a school or provider to get a clear picture of the population they're serving. This feature is also helpful for organizations with lots of funding sources - pull reports for specific zip codes, ages, programs, etc. Customized Reports: The COMET team is always looking for ways to improve our system. Customer requests for custom reports are one of the ways we make improvements. For a small fee, COMET engineers can develop custom report formats for a client. Once a new format is developed, it's available to all users at no charge. Longitudinal Studies: The ability to easily report on data collected over multiple years is a unique feature on COMET. Our reports allow you to customize the date range and with that you can go back 5 months or 5 years! The longer you use COMET, the more data you collect, the richer your reporting and evaluation becomes. Data Export: The data you enter into COMET is your data, we truly believe that. Reports are always available to be exported as a pdf, a print-formatted document or an Excel file. Whether you export one simple report, or multiple excel files with all your data - do with your data what you need to, we encourage it.
COMET provides the cability to leverage student/member family contact information to send emails and texts based on custom filters to notify parents/guardians when a member checks in and out of a club or program (i.e. field trip). Messages can be sent by text and/or email message and no phone app is required by the parents.  In addition, a Communications Module is available to support a more consistent, automated approach for organizational communiations.  
Confidential, secure and with the highest continuity of service. Designed with the most stringent data security and confidentiality requirements, COMET utilizes proven methods and algorithms from the banking, defense and healthcare industries to prevent data breaches. COMET's approach to security protects individual and group information better than our competitors. Confidential client information is stored and protected on COMET servers, with the highest level of security. Our customer agreement clearly outlines our obligations and responsibilities related to security. COMET uses a multi-layered approach to protect customer data: COMET is a web application and all data transfers between your computer and the COMET server are performed under the https:// protocol which ensures data encryption. COMET systematically protects its transactions. Access to the COMET database is protected by several layers of firewalls, filters, page servers and other protective devices, making direct access to the database from the internet extremely difficult. COMET uses field-level U.S. Department of Defense approved encryption algorithms. COMET servers are hosted in a professional data center where physical access to the system is controlled and monitored. The data center offers protection against fire, power and internet access failure. In the event of a brute force attempt to break into the system, the COMET security team is notified immediately.

The STAR system is composed of two complementary capabilities: (1) a powerful filtering tool that produces a list of students, family members or staff and (2) the ability to record and reuse specific parameters. The STAR reporting mechanism is currently integrated in dozens of "group" reports allowing users to create specific filters (e.g.: teenage girls who attended the fall swimming class) and use this filter with many report formats and compare one group to another group or with the rest of the population. Recording report parameters allow users to create "canned" reports and re-run such reports again and again. With over 600 metrics to filter with, our reporting output capabilities is second to none. Custom filters allow you to get the data out of COMET  that you need in a way that is powerful, reliable and repeatable

Service and case management features are designed to track services provided on an individual basis such as mentoring, tutoring or family support services (translation, legal support, food, etc.). First, users configure the services that will be recorded and which information is relevant for each service type. Then, services are recorded according to their specific configuration. Service records can be closed immediately (service rendered), left open (service in progress) or referred. Extensive reporting allows for measuring counts, dosage and costs. 
One-on-one needs: Students or members with special needs sometimes receive support and services from child professionals and staff on a one-on-one basis. This module helps administrative personnel to track the activity around these specialized services, specifically the amount of service delivered for evaluation, billing and payroll purposes.
Does your organization need to manage parental consents for specific activities, actions or gathering information?  (sports, accessing the Internet, emergencies, allowing the child to walk out of the facility, accessing school records, etc.) With COMET, users can configure the information managed with each type of consent (valid until date, signed by, witness, scanned paper copies). These consents can be recorded for each child and our reports allow users to identify which consents are still valid, reprint the scanned documents and more. Customize the consents you need to track and use advanced features to monitor expirations and ensure full compliance with parental requests.
In community data sharing initiatives, participants share information regarding children they service. COMET can be a key technology backbone to create a community-wide information system that supports interactions with many service providers to deliver a comprehensive, longitudinal perspective on each child to provide better, faster and continuously improved services. COMET supports community data sharing using the concepts of Data Owners and Data Seekers with information sharing at aggregated, de-identified child-level or identifiable child-level, depending on the parent consent processes and data sharing agreements set up between participating organizations.
Data Sharing Management (DSM) for communities in the COMET System is implemented using three complementing layers. 
  • Mapping Layer: records the mapping of each single child across the data owner databases
  • Filtering Layer: filters which child record is accessible based upon recorded parent consent and organizational data sharing agreements
  • Reporting Layer: Data Seeker Application.  The Data Seeker provides reports and data extraction based upon the (1) child mapping in the Mapping Layer (2) access authorization in the Filtering Layer and (3) report category.

Customer Spotlight

County Profile: One of our counties in New York is home to a primarily rural population with some small urban centers, with corresponding needs. The focus of their work with COMET has been early childhood, from prenatal care to school readiness. Programs vary in approach - some occur in-home, some are at centers and some are in the hospital - all connect with new parents. Leveraging COMET is helping the county bring together data across all  programs so they can track the trajectory of a single child from birth to kindergarten.

Community Customer Success Stories

United Way of Greater Rochester

Monitor & Improve Program Effectiveness

GROW Rochester

Screening & Referral to Improve Outcomes

CIDS & Chemung County

Partnering with the County to Improve Outcomes