Shifting the Paradigm

New Enrollment Process Improves Results of Social Needs Program

Editor’s note: Dayton Children’s Hospital was named a finalist for the 2017 Sherman Award for Excellence in Patient Engagement for its Family Resource Connection program. The program helps families address non-medical barriers to good health, such as poor nutrition and unsafe housing, by connecting them with local resources. Jessica Saunders first wrote about this program in November 2016. In her current post, she reports on the results of a recent update to the program.

Several months ago, I wrote about Dayton Children’s Hospital’s Family Resource Connection program for this blog. Our hospital uses this exciting program to screen families for additional challenges they face that may affect their children’s health. Dedicated staff members and student volunteers follow up with the families identified through screening to offer local resources that may be helpful. The program offers many opportunities to meet patient families where they are and address their basic social needs.

However, like many hospital-based programs, it can be a challenge to engage patient families in meaningful ways. The Family Resource Connection was no exception.

Once the program was up and running, tracking the number of quality interactions and positive outcomes became our focus.  In reviewing the data, we found that within the first three months, we lost contact with approximately 70% of the families involved. The majority of these situations were labeled a “disconnection” after families were called multiple times with no answer. Unfortunately, these disconnections meant wasted time and opportunity. They also signaled disengagement of families and led to some disengagement of our student advocate workforce.

Through some quality improvement work, we decided to retool the enrollment scripting process we use for families that screen “positive.” Now we offer those families two options: 1) Full enrollment in the program, whereby the student advocates provide families with resources and follow-up on a weekly basis to coach families into obtaining the resources. In this scenario, we can identify and track that families did indeed connect to resources. 2) Offer resources with no follow up. Although we are not able to truly identify whether a connection was made in these cases, it offers families the option to at least receive information on community resources.  We label these interactions “equipped.”

Within the first few weeks of using the new scripting, we noticed a significant difference in the number of “disconnections” and an increase in the number of families “equipped” with resources they could access on their own. After about 4 months of using this new scripting, the percentage of family interactions resulting in “disconnections” is down to 30%.

While we would love to see our program have 100% connections all of the time, we know we need to meet patient families where they are.  We have learned the importance of offering options to our families; in the long run, we anticipate this will improve their trust in the program and increase our connection rate.


Jessica Saunders Jessica Saunders is the director of the Office of Community Health and Engagement Programs at Dayton Children's Hospital. She is responsible for the overall direction and coordination of Dayton Children's child health and wellness efforts in the community, including the Dayton Asthma Alliance and the Family Resource Connection social needs screening and referral program. Jessica also leads the community health needs assessment research, planning and priority area program implementation as well as the community benefit programming of Dayton Children’s. In her tenure at Dayton Children’s, she has coordinated internal, regional, state and national organizations and resources to provide specific programs designed to prevent illness, injury and other harm and improve the health of children. She serves on multiple community boards addressing children’s health and education and is adjunct faculty for both the University of Dayton Department of Political Science Master's in Public Administration and the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine Department of Population & Public Health Sciences.

Jessica Saunders has 3 post(s) at

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