Authority/Reference(s) TX HRC §40.058(b)1
Revision Date January 15, 2014

Policy

In accordance with the Texas Human Resources Code, all DFPS contracts for the purchase of program-related client services must include clearly defined goals with outputs and outcomes that can be measured to determine whether the objectives of the contracted service are being achieved. This requirement is inclusive of all client service contracts, including interagency agreements (IACs), but excludes memorandum of understanding (MOUs).
In addition, DFPS is committed to developing and implementing a quality improvement system for client service contracts that focuses on contractor accountability for results. Essential elements of the improvement system include:

  • Establishment of performance measures with clearly defined indicators;
  • Development of processes for collecting performance data and information;
  • Development of processes for analyzing and reporting data and information; and
  • Quality improvement planning, implementation, and evaluation

When the decision is made to procure client services or renew an existing contract, contract and program staff ("DFPS staff") must identify the goal(s) of the contract and help develop (or revise, as necessary) performance measures to establish how the overall effectiveness of the purchase will be assessed. Performance measures typically include outcomes and outputs. Performance measures define successful service provision so that program and contract staff can assess contractor status and initiate quality improvement efforts to hold contractors accountable if performance targets are not met.
Client service contracts must identify performance measures in terms of desired goals, outcomes, and if appropriate, outputs for each contract.

Goal: the end result or achievement toward which effort is directed.

Goals for a client service contract establish the essence of what is being purchased by the agency, for whom, and for what purpose. They are used to identify and introduce what the intended achievements are through the provision of a service. Goals serve as the foundation that assists the agency in assessing program and contractor performance toward desired objectives.

Examples of actual purchased client service contract goals:

  • To provide services and develop partnerships that improve outcomes for foster care youth transitioning to independent adult living.
  • To prevent or reduce child abuse and neglect by increasing protective factors in “at-risk” families through an evidence-based child abuse and neglect prevention program delivered by a community-based organization.
  • To protect the well-being of the child, enhance the child’s functional abilities in a 24-hour residential child care setting, and prepare the child for his/her permanency goal.
  • Outcome: the impact that a program or service has on clients.

    Outcome measures demonstrate the effect a service has on clients. For DFPS, outcomes typically relate to improvements in the lives of clients with regard to safety, permanency, and well-being whether directly or indirectly.
    When defining outcome measures, the following questions should be considered:

    • How will DFPS know if the contractor is achieving the outcome(s)?
    • Does the contractor have reasonable control of the proposed outcome by its system design and/ or decisions?
    • What indicator or measurement technique would demonstrate success in meeting this outcome?

    Examples of actual outcome measures:

    • Youth who have left paid foster care and who received case management services are either enrolled in school or employed, or actively seeking employment.
    • An increase in the targeted protective factors is reported by primary caregivers served in the Contractor’s Community-Based Family Services program.
    • Children are safe in care. 

    Output: The direct product of a program’s activities.

    Output measures are designed to capture the level of activity when delivering a service. Outputs relate to the primary products or services provided and measure contractor effort. Outputs can be useful in determining the amount of service produced and the efficiency with which services are provided.
    When defining output measures, the following questions should be considered:

    • What is DFPS requiring the contractor to provide?
    • Which service components or requirements are really worth measuring?
    • What indicator or measurement technique would demonstrate success in producing this output?

    Examples of actual output measures:

    • Case management notes are submitted to DFPS in a timely manner.
    • Average number of families served monthly in the Contractor’s Community-Based Family Services program.
    • Each child’s Education Portfolio is up to date.