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Theory of Change
Strengthening Alignment and Building Capacity
In 2002, the Department of Human Services (DHS) began developing an internal framework which articulated its key strategies and intended impact. This work is reflected in the DHS Theory of Change. Over six months, both large (80) and small groups (10) came together to explore and develop a new mission statement and elements of the Theory of Change which includes: focus issues, assumptions, key strategies, expected change and environmental context. Completed in 2003, the Theory of Change provided all DHS programs with a common framework for how they worked together to impact the lives of individuals and families in Oakland.
In 2004, the work continued. Programs began to strengthen their alignment within DHS (based on the Theory of Change) and in the broader Mayor/City Council framework (Goals and Objectives). To do so, technical assistance and training were provided to programs in order to complete a program narrative. The program narrative was designed to guide program teams through a process of reflection and strategic thinking about the underlying purpose of their efforts and to identify targets and measures for tracking implementation and impact (See Narrative Template page).
Throughout the process, teams have expressed greater knowledge and understanding of the work of their colleagues. Opportunities for increased integration and collaboration have surfaced and a common language has been developed throughout the Department. In July 2005, DHS completed its strategic framework and revised its Theory of Change to reflect the work thus far. Once the program narratives are complete, DHS can look across the department programs and identify and set performance targets that more accurately reflect the work that is being done in the field and the impact it is having on the lives of Oakland residents. Meanwhile, DHS continues to refine current performance measures and other mechanisms for evaluating and monitoring outcomes.