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Clarity Human Services: Outreach Toolkit

Introduction 

Clarity Outreach provides exciting new tools to facilitate outreach, engagement, and other location-related activities. Outreach is a fully integrated map-based module of Clarity Human Services, offering communities the opportunity to capture and reflect individual and encampment location data. Many communities lack a centralized and shared resource to track encampment and service delivery data, leading to disjointed efforts to end unsheltered homelessness. Outreach can take your community’s outreach initiatives to the next level by providing powerful new tools.

This Outreach Toolkit provides information and materials to help your community successfully adopt Clarity Outreach. The toolkit includes five sections:

  1. Establishing your planning infrastructure: Creating an implementation committee, defining roles and responsibilities, defining your desired impact, and building knowledge of Clarity Outreach
  2. Conducting current state analysis: Assessing readiness for Clarity Outreach, understanding current outreach workflows, and analyzing your current data
  3. Planning your use of Clarity Outreach: Defining encampments, identifying required data elements, determining data collection strategies for location and encampment data, determining new workflows, and making decisions on data access
  4. Preparing to go live with Clarity Outreach: Creating and updating policies and procedures, creating a communication plan, configuring Clarity, and training
  5. Going live and beyond: Going live and using data to monitor and report on system performance

This toolkit contains a lot of information! Need a summary? Our Outreach Checklist contains an overview of this toolkit to help you check off steps along the way and keep track of where you’re at in the process.

Let’s get started!
Outreach Checklist Cover

Outreach Checklist

We’re here to make using Outreach as easy as possible. So how about a simple checklist to keep track of the process? 

DOWNLOAD CHECKLIST

1. Establish Planning Infrastructure

Clarity Outreach will create lasting and impactful change in your efforts to address unsheltered homelessness. Thoughtfully and strategically building an infrastructure to support the implementation of Clarity Outreach sets a solid foundation for achieving your goals. 

 

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1.1 Establish an Outreach Implementation Committee

Before proceeding with the work of implementing Clarity Outreach, it is important to establish a strong implementation infrastructure to help prepare the community and manage the rollout. Bitfocus recommends creating an Outreach Implementation Committee that includes a mix of stakeholders and community leadership. When planning participants, it is important to consider the anticipated level of involvement, interest, and influence each stakeholder will maintain within the project. Assess the landscape to identify stakeholders who are aligned with impact goals and spend time reviewing any potential conflict or varying degrees of cooperation each stakeholder may bring.

Consider the following stakeholders for your community’s committee:

STAKEHOLDER

VALUE PROVIDED

CoC Representatives Ensure outreach services are well integrated into the homelessness response system and are aligned with the community’s coordinated efforts.
HMIS System Administrators Understand HMIS software and Clarity Outreach module and can provide insight into potential workflows and data collection
Individuals with Lived Experience Provide critical insight into the experience of being homeless, receiving services, living in encampments, and more
Outreach Providers Experience providing outreach services, and understanding of day-to-day workflows and challenges
Funders Knowledge of funding opportunities, limitations, and restrictions

Local Government

  • Law Enforcement
  • Emergency Services
  • Public Works
  • Park and Recreation
Entities that often interact with encampments and people experiencing homelessness. They could already have outreach and engagement processes in place that can provide insight into services, and coordinate with new efforts

 

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1.2 Define Roles & Responsibilities

Once you have created your implementation committee, the next step is to define clear roles and responsibilities. Before the project begins, identify the staffing and support your community will need for rollout. These individuals will support the remaining steps in the rollout process.

Consider who will fulfill the following project needs: 

ROLE

RESPONSIBILITY

Project Management Coordinates all parts of project rollout, and communicates with the project team to ensure that timelines and responsibilities are clear and that all milestones are met
System Configuration Configures Clarity Human Services to meet the needs of the outreach project
Communication Plans and completes communication to service providers and the community at large to apprise them of timelines, processes and process changes, milestones, and other key information
Training Content Development Develops content used to train service providers and other impacted staff which may include slide decks, job aids, workflow diagrams, and other materials
Training Facilitation Conducts training for service providers and other impacted staff
Report Development Creates and analyzes data metrics related to system monitoring and system outcomes

 

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1.3 Identify Desired Impact

Clarity Outreach is a flexible tool designed to meet the needs of a variety of outreach projects. Whether your community wants to build and formalize an outreach network or to compliment current outreach efforts, part of your plan should be identifying your desired impact. Put these impact goals in writing to serve as a touchpoint during your planning process. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What are the goals for this effort?
  • What would success look like for this project?
  • What insights do we want from the data we collect?
  • What problems will this project address? 

As you identify your desired impact, seek input from a wide range of stakeholders and be flexible and receptive to input. Formulating clear and specific goals will help your team envision success and formulate your discussion points for the next stages of preparation.

Goal Examples

Here are some of the goals we helped communities achieve using Clarity Outreach:

  • Create a centralized shared resource of encampment locations
  • Bring outreach program data into HMIS
  • Collect consistent data across all community outreach programs
  • Apply a vulnerability index to encampments to prioritize services
  • Increase coordination among outreach providers and enhance the efficiency of service delivery
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1.4 Build Clarity Outreach Knowledge

Begin building knowledge of Clarity Outreach tools and features as soon as possible, and among as many team members as possible. Understanding the software functionality will inform decisions about how to build workflows, track data, and ensure that outreach work is fully integrated in your HMIS.

1. Start with a demo from one of our Clarity Outreach subject matter experts

We can provide a thorough overview, give you insight into how other communities are using Clarity Outreach, and answer questions you may have about specifics for your community.

 

2. Dig into our Help Center Content

Start with the following articles from our Outreach for End Users section and branch out from there.

  1. Introduction to Outreach
  2. Adding Individuals to the Outreach Map
  3. Viewing Individuals in Outreach
  4. Managing Encampments in Outreach
  5. Persons in Encampments
  6. Outreach Data Filter and Search Options
  7. Outreach: Alerts and Notes
  8. Outreach FAQs

 

3. Explore your training instance

Once Clarity Outreach has been enabled in your live and training sites, you are free to start exploring the functionality. Use the Help Center articles above to help you set up and manage encampments, add people to encampments, and explore the map. We strongly recommend conducting this exploration only within your training instance of Clarity. Exploring in your live instance can result in unintended changes to your live site configuration and data.

2. Conduct Current State Analysis

After building your planning infrastructure, it is time to dig into the current state of street outreach and unsheltered homelessness in your community.

 

 

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2.1 Assess Outreach Readiness

We have developed a readiness assessment to help you explore your community’s readiness to engage in revising your current unsheltered outreach efforts. This assessment asks questions about:

  • Project goals
  • Project planning
  • Community planning
  • HMIS utilization
  • Training
  • Reporting
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2.2 Understand Current Workflows

Understanding current workflows for street outreach programs in your community allows you to identify current processes, what works well, and what could be improved. This information is critical to understanding how Clarity Outreach can support current workflows and provide the least disruption to outreach staff during the revision and implementation process.

When mapping workflows, we recommend identifying the following at a minimum:

  • Workflow phases at a high level
  • Decision points within each phase
  • Steps completed in the field versus in the office
  • Points at which the workflow touches HMIS and why
  • Timeline expectations and actualities
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2.3 Analyze Current Data

When preparing for changes to your outreach processes, it is important to evaluate current utilization data and data quality. We encourage communities to develop plans to address existing utilization gaps and data quality issues before assigning new responsibilities.

Ask questions such as:

  • Are outreach providers participating in HMIS? 
  • Are they entering data live in the field or using paper processes with delayed entry? 
  • Are they compliant with the Current Living Situation requirement and other HUD/funder requirements? 
  • How complete is the data they are entering?
  • How timely is the data they are entering?
  • How consistently is location data being captured by providers?

Clarity data analysis tools can help provide insight into current data within your HMIS. You can build queries or dashboards to help your community gain access to their outreach data and make plans based on what your data reveals.

Some potential measures to consider:

  • Program setup information to ensure that all outreach programs are configured as expected
  • Count of clients and enrollments by agency and program
  • Count of outreach services with and without location data by month
  • Count of locations data entered by agency and program
  • Count of data quality errors by agency and program
  • Average days in project by program 
  • Completion rates of Current Living Situation assessment at enrollment
  • Count of exit destinations by program

3. Plan Use of Clarity Outreach

After defining your goals, analyzing your current data, and identifying issues that should be addressed in your plan (or addressed prior to your plan starting), you are ready to begin planning how your community will use Clarity Outreach. Keep in mind that the ways you use Clarity and the data you collect will determine what you can later report. As you review this section be thoughtful about the stories you want your data to tell.

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3.1 Define an Encampment

Creating a clear definition of what does and does not constitute an encampment is critical to the success of your Outreach module. Having a common understanding within your community and especially within your street outreach programs ensures consistent representation of unsheltered living situations on your map. When assigning encampment teams and creating service plans for ongoing service delivery and monitoring groups may be unintentionally excluded from the level of services needed if encampment definitions are unclear.

What types of living situations should be represented as an encampment? Do single unsheltered individuals qualify as an encampment? Do encampments include groups of individuals residing in vehicles and RVs or should they be represented as unsheltered individuals with a vehicle address type? These are just a few factors to consider when drafting your encampment criteria.

Consider in which cases the following living situations should be considered encampments:

  • Single unsheltered individuals
  • Residence in abandoned buildings 
  • Residence in transit tunnels 
  • Residence in vehicles or RVs
  • Groups of individuals residing in vehicles within close proximity 

It can also be useful to consider existing encampment definitions created by HUD, USICH, and other entities. Review our sample of some existing encampment definitions to get a sense of some of the definitions out there.

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3.2 Identify Required Data Standards

Different data standards apply to different types of programs and will vary depending on funder requirements and community needs, so it is important to understand what requirements apply to your outreach programs.

We recommend using HUD’s Interactive HMIS Data Standards Tool to learn more about data requirements for outreach programs funded by HUD or other federal partners:

It is also important to understand how your street outreach programs interact with your coordinated entry system. Depending on the setup in your community, your street outreach programs may be required to collect additional data elements, such as HUD Coordinated Entry Assessments, and HUD Coordinated Entry Events.

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3.3 Identify Collection Strategies for Location Data

Clarity Outreach offers numerous methods for providers to collect location data and you can specify which types of location data are reflected on the map. Clarity’s geolocation fields can be customized and added to any Clarity screen, and data collection can also occur through the Location tab and service transactions. Learn more through our Help Center:

It is important to think strategically about how location data is collected and what type and level of information should be reflected on the map. Use these guiding questions to set your community strategies:

  • Should the map reflect both sheltered and unsheltered location data?
    Most communities are interested in reflecting only unsheltered client location data; however, some communities are exploring whether to include both sheltered and unsheltered clients to identify where housing placements are happening, how often housed individuals access encampments, and other metrics. 

  • Would you like to leverage existing provider workflows or limit data collection to specific providers? Inserting location data collection points into existing workflows and configuring them in Outreach increases the data available on the map. However, communities may wish to restrict data collection to outreach providers so that the map accurately represents outreach engagements. It is important to determine which strategy aligns with your community’s goals before configuration begins.

  • What data collection points are needed to ensure the map reflects accurate and current data? There are numerous options for location data collection within Clarity and we encourage communities to be strategic about the methods utilized. Collecting too much geolocation data can be confusing and introduce other challenges. For example, collecting service locations with services may unnecessarily duplicate locations collected in Current Living Situation assessments or only reflect where clients are receiving services, not where they’re staying, providing a skewed representation of unsheltered homelessness. 

    • What Location tab-based address types are important to reflect on the map?
      Clarity provides default address types through the Location tab and allows communities to customize the options through the Address Type system field. Specific address types can be configured to display on the map, and it is important to consider what existing or new address types are needed to meet your goals and which ones should be displayed on the map. Many communities create custom address types for vehicles, RVs, underpasses, or other unsheltered conditions that they want to collect separately from encampments.
  • How long should location data be reflected on the map? Outreach configuration is equipped with a threshold to control how long location data is visible on the map, and separate thresholds can be configured for Location tab-based data, geolocation fields, and Service Item geolocations. Many communities align visibility with commonly used coordinated entry timeframes or Autoexit Due to Inactivity thresholds. 
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3.4 Determine Encampment Data Collection Strategies

Encampment screens can be customized to meet your community's needs while offering all standard Clarity screen- and field-related functionality. When considering what encampment data you’d like to capture, think about your goals for collecting this data and what will help you achieve them.

For example:

  • Identification for outreach: If your primary goal is identifying encampments to ensure outreach workers know where to target, you may only need to collect minimal information about the encampment: name, start date, and description.

  • Outreach worker safety: You may wish to collect additional data to support staff conducting outreach: Examples include easiest access point to encampment, presence of weapons, presence of aggressive animals, etc.

  • Encampment resource needs: You may also wish to collect information about the encampment that allows outreach workers to identify which specific resources might be most helpful to residents: Examples include potable water nearby, presence of children, presence of untreated health conditions, etc.

  • Encampment prioritization: Some communities take their data collection efforts a step further and build out an encampment assessment that allows them to score encampments to prioritize them for outreach and services. In addition to some of the questions mentioned above (presence of children, presence of untreated health conditions, etc.) communities can use their prioritization criteria such as flood danger, fire hazards, number of 911 calls, etc.
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3.5 Determine Workflows

Once data collection strategies and requirements have been identified it is time to determine workflows within Clarity.

Using the workflow data you collected during your current state analysis note the points where staff interact with Clarity and determine where desired data collection fits within current processes (for example, adding questions to an enrollment screen or a geolocation field to services) and where new processes will need to be introduced (for example, entering encampment data). Determine desired points for data collection and interaction with Clarity and work with outreach staff to determine feasibility. Outreach staff feedback is critical to this step.

We have highlighted several decisions to be made in our Workflow Decision Points document.


DOWNLOAD WORKFLOW DECISION POINTS

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3.6 Determine Access to Clarity Outreach

Based on the workflows identified above, your community policies around data and client privacy, and your current access roles in Clarity, you will want to identify access roles for all staff who will be engaging with Clarity Outreach. Our Access Role Planner walks you through each available access right so that you can ensure nothing is overlooked. 

4. Prepare to Go Live with Clarity Outreach

All the decisions have been made, workflows planned, and knowledge built. Now it’s time to prepare your community to start using Clarity Outreach.

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4.1 Create Policies & Procedures

Introducing a new project, process, or tool often requires policies and procedures to either be amended or created. There are several reasons it is important to follow through with updating or creating policies and procedures:

  • Promotes clarity and reduces confusion 
  • Available as a reference point if misunderstandings arise
  • Ensures compliance with your existing policies
  • Facilitates consistency and continuity

When creating policies around outreach and encampment work, you may want to update policies around:

  • Client privacy and data collection
  • User access levels and roles
  • Access to client data outside the workplace
  • Coordinated entry access
  • Street outreach procedures
  • Emergency communication procedures

You may want to create new policies around:

  • Encampment definitions
  • Encampment engagement procedures
  • Encampment assessment completion
  • Encampment team assignments
  • Encampment status update completion
  • Encampment prioritization
  • Use of Encampment Notes & Alerts
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4.2 Create Communication Plan

Communication is key to a successful rollout of Clarity Outreach. When creating a communication plan first consider all of the stakeholders who need information about the impending changes. It may be helpful to review the stakeholders you identified in Step 1 and Step 2 of the Establish Planning Infrastructure section of this kit.

Once you’ve determined who should receive communications about this transition you should identify what communications will meet the needs of each stakeholder group. Here are a few examples:

All stakeholders:

  • Initial announcement about pending transition
  • Transition status updates, high level

HMIS governance committee:

  • Transition status updates, detailed

Outreach staff

  • Training announcements
  • Go-live prep announcements

Finally, plan your communication schedule. We recommend scheduling your first communication approximately two months before you go live with additional communication scheduled weekly.

DOWNLOAD SAMPLE COMMUNICATIONS PLAN

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4.3 Configure Clarity Human Services

Now it is time to take all of the decisions you have made and build them out in Clarity! 

Refer to the knowledge you built in Step 4 of Establish Planning Infrastructure and the decisions you made in the Plan Use of Clarity Outreach section to determine your configuration plan.

When configuring Clarity, we recommend a couple of best practices:

1. Document your configuration so you can refer back to it later in case there are questions about decisions or issues to investigate. Create a document that includes:
    • Settings you are changing, what you changed them to, and why
    • Fields you create, database name, field type, and where you intend to use it
    • Screens you create, including screen type, all fields, display logic, and warnings, as well as when it’s being used and why
2. Test your configuration in your training site before you configure it in your live site. At a minimum, have a user go through each workflow you’ve configured to make sure that it works the way you are expecting.
 
You can review Outreach-related settings and our recommendations and document your choices in our Outreach Configuration Guide.
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4.4 Training

Training community providers can require a significant amount of time and attention but well-trained users are critical to the successful use of Clarity Outreach.

Ideally, user training should occur during the week before go-live and no earlier than two weeks before go-live. This ensures that staff can put their new knowledge into practice quickly, reducing the opportunity for information loss. However, unless staff are trained and immediately begin using the new system, there will always be some information loss. This is why it’s important to provide additional support.

During your training process, we recommend a few best practices:

  • Provide a hands-on experience that allows users to explore the new workflow directly
  • Provide a simplified workflow document (digital or paper) that reminds users of the steps from a high level
  • Provide a detailed workflow document (digital or paper) that walks users through each step of the workflow process
  • Make sure users are clear on where to find these and other resources (such as the Clarity Help Center)
  • Make sure users understand how to get support and what kind of responsiveness they can expect

Once you go live with Clarity Outreach, plan a refresher training for 3-4 weeks after go-live. This allows you to reinforce details that users may overlook and check in with users about where they need additional support. This is also a great opportunity to share initial data to help reinforce the value of this new process and note any data quality issues you have noticed.

Regular refresher training can serve to both support existing users as they become more comfortable with the new processes, and as a way to train new staff coming on board with outreach programs.

5. Going Live & Beyond

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5.1 Go Live!

It’s finally here! All of your hard work and thoughtful preparation have paid off, and your community is ready to start using Clarity Outreach. Be sure to express appreciation to everyone who has helped you and your community get to this point. 

But don’t stop now; the work is not quite done. The first few days after go-live are when users are likely to need the most support, and they will also appreciate the opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback, and express their feelings about this change. Consider implementing one or more of the following to provide support:

  • Office hours sessions
  • On-site program visits
  • User surveys
  • Reminders about resources available
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5.2 Reporting & Monitoring

Now that you are collecting all of this new data, it is time to put it to use! Clarity Human Services provides robust data analysis tools that you can use to dig into your outreach data. There are many possible uses for your data, so start thinking about the stories you want to tell.

We recommend four areas of focus:

1. System monitoring - compile data to confirm that the system is configured correctly and that users are using it correctly. You may want to look at:
    • Program and service configuration to identify configuration mistakes
    • Templates and auto-exit settings
    • Counts of record entry by program and staff to note potential user issues
    • Missing data to uncover data quality issues
2. System functionality monitoring - compile data to confirm that workflows are occurring successfully and that timelines are being met. You may want to look at:
    • Length of time between last service and exit dates to ensure clients are being exited promptly
    • Amounts of time between steps in the workflow
    • Counts of location records to ensure client locations are being tracked
3. Project outcomes - compile data to identify how a particular program is performing. This can help them gain insight into their work and evaluate their performance, successes, and opportunities for improvement. These data can be especially useful early in the Clarity Outreach adoption process to validate and reinforce new processes.
    • Counts of records entered 
    • Client demographics
    • Exit destinations
    • Encampment characteristics
    • Clients served and types of service
4. System outcomes - Compile data to understand the picture of unsheltered homelessness, encampments, and street outreach in the community. This can help stakeholders evaluate the effectiveness of current street outreach efforts for the entire community, as well as potentially shift services to meet the specific needs of the community's unsheltered homeless population.
    • Length of time enrolled in street outreach compared with exit destination
    • Length of time in encampments compared with services received

Note: What you can report will depend on your data collection strategies. When considering what stories you want or need your data to tell, review the strategies you identified in Steps 2-5 of Plan Use of Clarity Outreach to make sure that you are collecting the data you need at the points you need it.

In Closing

We hope that this toolkit has helped you think through the steps for implementing Clarity Outreach in your community. Your rollout process may look different based on your community’s needs, resources, and goals, but hopefully, this toolkit inspired you to consider a wider range of factors when making your plans.

 

Feeling overwhelmed?

 

Interested in Clarity Outreach but don’t have the capacity or resources to take this on? We would love to help! Bitfocus Professional Services has helped communities across the country implement Clarity Outreach, and we’d love to help you too! Here’s a sample of how we can support you:

    • Analyzing the current state of outreach programs and making recommendations based on community needs and best practices
    • Designing workflows that make the best use of Clarity features while prioritizing user experience
    • Designing dashboards to provide insight into outreach data and to support system monitoring
    • Training and support for users and training resource development

Please reach out to let us know how we can best support you in reaching your goals!

 

 

Tools & Resources Index

For your convenience, we’ve gathered all of the tools and resources from each section of the Outreach Toolkit into an index.

Outreach Checklist ↗

Outreach Access Role Planner ↗

Sample Outreach Communications Plan ↗

Outreach Configuration Guide ↗

Outreach Workflow Decision Points ↗

Encampment Definitions ↗

Outreach Readiness Assessment ↗