Heading into the 2020-21 state budget, The Center for Community Solutions closely examined the cause behind declining enrollment in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, a larger proportion of the TANF caseload consisting of child-only cases (where children are living with another relative who isn’t their parent and receive cash assistance) and the program’s large surplus. Tracking down the information to learn more about the program’s enrollment and spending was no easy feat, and prompted by this experience, we identified the need to improve data transparency in public programs as a state budget priority. In the midst of the budget process, we realized that we’re seeking improved transparency in health and human services across public agencies and beyond what’s dealt with during the state budget process. Specifically, we’re aiming to strengthen data reporting in public assistance programs and improve data transparency in spending and enrollment data. This aligns with the goals of Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted through InnovateOhio to improve information sharing across state government and programs to better serve the public. The #OHBudget has taken steps to improve data transparency and reporting, but there’s more work left to do. Where to start? Click To Tweet
In the midst of the budget process, we realized that we’re seeking improved transparency in health and human services across public agencies and beyond what’s dealt with during the state budget process.
While we have seen increased information sharing around TANF through the budget process around TANF and via more frequently updated Caseload Summary Statistics Reports on public assistance programs from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, we still have a ways to go. Another budget priority of Community Solutions’ is to improve tracking and reporting of maternal deaths in Ohio. The most recent data on maternal deaths posted to the Ohio Department of Health’s website is from 2014. A change made in the state budget now requires this data to be reported every other year. All of this is to say, it’s important to have quality data that is accessible and updated as frequently as possible to develop sound policy and implement needed changes. As with our other budget priorities, the work is not done yet. As we work to effectuate budget changes with fellow stakeholders, we’ll continually be working through a lens of improving data reporting in a meaningful way.