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Example 1: Use of services questionnaire

Type of Service I'm using this type of service now I've used it in the past 3 years, but not now I've used it in the past, more than 3 years ago, but not now I've never used this type of service Don't know
Alcoholism Services          
Domestic violence services          
Children's services          
Legal services          
Services for low-income families          
Transportation services          
Veteran's services          
Elderly services          


Example 2: Report displaying utilization and satisfaction 

Dillytown preschool recreation report

Area of service: Total # of households needing service Used and Satisfied Used and Dissatisfied Needed and Not Used
Recreation for preschool 1000 758 165 77
Individual agencies providing this service        
Dillytown Recreation Department   542 73 77
Albert Memorial Library   327 18 77
The James Center   168 21 77


Example 3: Headquarters Counseling Center's service utilization methods

Headquarters is a crisis counseling and referral service that provides free, 24-hour counseling, support, and information to residents of Douglas County, Kansas. A staff of 60 to 90 volunteers work as counselors are supervised and supported by a small paid staff and a Board of Directors.

Marcia Epstein, the organization's director, spoke with us about how Headquarters tracks use of its services.

CTB: How does Headquarters determine how much its services are being utilized?

Epstein: When I talk about what services we provide, I break it into three different areas. I'm going to start with the easiest one, which is the training of Counseling Center volunteers. So, in terms of tracking numbers of that that's really simple in terms of the number of people who complete during the course of the calendar year. The next check would be educational programs that are in the community. And what we do to check the numbers of those is we keep records of each speaking request and then about how many participants were there and then we have a calendar year total of those. With the main services -- the counseling information services -- what we do is track the number of times that people come in or call in to use services. But because we don't ask for identity or any kind of demographic information, we don't know the number of people that are represented in that usage. So the numbers that we have are the number of actual times that we provide services in the counseling information area, and then the breakdowns are related to the types of issues that people are dealing with.

CTB: How do you track those contacts?

Epstein: Narratives are written about every client interaction and then each month we produce a summary of the types of issues and the numbers of issues using a standard set of classifications. But it's just the quantities of concerns, it's not again any way of tracking the number of individuals who are using the services.

CTB: Do you find that the information you gather in tracking how Headquarters' services are being utilized helps you? Do you ever use that information to adapt the services?

Epstein: Absolutely. And the biggest thing that we're looking at is what are we really dealing with and are we prepared to handle that adequately. Are there needs we need to find out about in terms of other resources and helping those get developed or adding resources or training? We use that a lot.

CTB: Can you give me an example of a time that some sort of change was implemented as a result of what was learned by tracking service utilization?

Epstein: A real easy example would be the issue of AIDS and HIV infection. In 1969 (the year Headquarters began), that wasn't an issue. But then by probably the early 80's it was really clear that nationally that was an issue. So we started getting some calls related to AIDS and HIV and we started doing some things to develop resource information on these issues.

Our thanks to Marcia Epstein for participating in the interview.

Chris Hampton
Kate Nagy
Marcia Epstein