Essential to a well-functioning continuous quality improvement (CQI) system is building productive CQI teams and ensuring that information generated through the system will be effectively used to make needed improvements. A productive CQI system requires a mechanism that promotes circular feedback and communication among staff, stakeholders, and teams. These feedback loops permit an ongoing, bi-directional information exchange across all levels of the agency, which in turn facilitates the change process. Equally important is sharing data with agency staff and sharing data with consumers and external stakeholders.
By sharing data and information and then using staff, stakeholder, and consumer feedback as a starting point, the agency can create a dialogue about improvements it should make in policies, practices, systems, planning, services, and in its CQI program as a whole. Frontline staff, particularly workers and supervisors, will show an increased understanding of how their day-to-day actions, as revealed by data, impact short- and long-term outcomes for children and families, and how their practices can be enhanced as a result. Thus, staff, youth, families, and external stakeholders should receive information and actively participate in analyzing and interpreting data, connecting data to practice, and identifying trends and key findings.
Through this process of data-based decision-making, the CQI process as a whole is subject to continued examination and evaluation and can be adjusted as needed to better meet agency needs. This ongoing adjustment is one of the key factors in an agency maintaining the momentum of effective systemic change.