We are pleased to announce that Insight Policy Research was acquired by Westat, effective June 15, 2022. Branded as “Westat Insight,” we are currently operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Westat and continue to provide our clients with the best-in-class services they have come to expect. Our combined experience now offers expanded expertise in health, education, and social policy as well as deeper methodological skills in survey research, evaluation, data analytics, and technical assistance. <a href="https://www.westat.com/articles/westat-acquires-insight-policy-research" target="_blank">Learn more</a> here.
We are pleased to announce that Insight Policy Research was acquired by Westat, effective June 15, 2022. Branded as “Westat Insight,” we are currently operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of Westat and continue to provide our clients with the best-in-class services they have come to expect. Our combined experience now offers expanded expertise in health, education, and social policy as well as deeper methodological skills in survey research, evaluation, data analytics, and technical assistance. <a href="https://www.westat.com/articles/westat-acquires-insight-policy-research" target="_blank">Learn more</a> here.
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Advancing Equity

Advancing Equity

Across our company’s 21+ year portfolio, we have worked with clients to improve policies and programs that affect family well-being, particularly in families that have been historically underserved, marginalized, and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality. Below we highlight several examples across topic areas.

  • Education

    Advancing Equity in Career-Connected Education Summit

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    Advancing Equity in Career-Connected Education Summit

    A central goal of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) is to have all youth and adults ready for—and have—meaningful access to high-quality college and career pathways. To support this objective, Insight helped OCTAE design, manage, and facilitate the 2022 Advancing Equity in Career-Connected Education Summit. This virtual event convened over 2,000 attendees to learn about innovative strategies, evidence-based programs, and cutting-edge research on how to improve equity in postsecondary educational opportunities, student recruitment and retention, and school-to-work pipelines. Presenters included practitioners, students, researchers, evaluators and funders of programs in adult education, career and technical education, community colleges, and correctional education. Sessions included panels on including a focus on equity in program evaluation, scaling evidence-based student support services at community colleges, and meeting the diverse needs of adult education students.

    Understanding Educational Equity to Improve Student Outcomes

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    Understanding Educational Equity to Improve Student Outcomes

    The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) and the Diversifying Delaware’s Educational Workforce professional learning community partnered on an initiative to identify and narrow diversity gaps in Delaware’s educator workforce. Insight is currently providing high-intensity technical assistance focused on assessing diversity gaps, identifying barriers to hiring a diverse workforce, examining root causes of those barriers, and developing strategies for addressing the barriers and narrowing diversity gaps. Insight is also developing a data visualization tool that uses person-level administrative data from DDOE to illustrate the potential influence of the educator pipeline on workforce diversity at the school, district, and state levels.

    Understanding Bias in Early Childhood Learning Assessments

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    Understanding Bias in Early Childhood Learning Assessments

    Students of color, English learners, and students with low socioeconomic status have lower educational assessment scores than their peers across many domains. Although many potential causes for the gaps between these vulnerable subpopulations and their peers are apparent, one potential explanation is systemic bias in the educational assessments themselves. To help inform this discussion, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation contracted with Insight to conduct a comprehensive literature review of the measurement and prevalence of bias against vulnerable populations in early childhood assessments. Insight convened a roundtable to discuss findings and develop directions for future research with subject matter experts and community practitioner experts. We developed a summary report of findings of the literature review with discussion of potential directions for future research.

    National Student Attendance, Engagement, and Success Center

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    National Student Attendance, Engagement, and Success Center

    The National Student Attendance, Engagement, and Success Center (now renamed the Student Engagement and Attendance Center, or SEAC) is a U.S. Department of Education initiative managed by Insight to help state and local education agencies (SEAs and LEAs) address issues of chronic absenteeism and student engagement. Helping SEAs and LEAs address equity issues related to student attendance and engagement is a central objective of SEAC’s work. For example, SEAC works at the state and local levels to assess how data on absenteeism are collected to identify trends with different types of students, conduct root cause analysis, and target supportive services to address the needs of students and families. Collection of high-quality data is crucial to identifying the needs of diverse students to understand attendance trends categorized by factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, and special needs. SEAC also helps SEAs and LEAs identify and implement promising practices related to student and family engagement, helping to ensure diverse interests are included in decisionmaking processes at all levels. SEAC provides a range of technical assistance that includes peer-to-peer sessions focused on problems of practice; learning series that probe more complex topics; and products designed to reach a broader audience such as webinars, guides, and briefs.

  • Family Support

    Promise Neighborhoods Program

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    Promise Neighborhoods Program

    Across the country, many neighborhoods experiencing economic distress face challenges such as access to high-quality early learning opportunities, low rates of high school and college graduation, high rates of unemployment, and indicators of poor health. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Promise Neighborhoods initiative offers a comprehensive approach to help communities in distress build on their strengths and develop local solutions to improve outcomes for children, families, and neighborhoods. While the solutions pursued are diverse, they are united by the common objective to create a continuum of “cradle to career” support services. A focus on equity permeates the program, with goals to improve access to education, engage the community as true partners in the work, and use a results-based framework to ensure accountability for improving outcomes. Insight currently coordinates the work of five other partner organizations in providing technical assistance and support performance data collection efforts. The work includes conducting needs assessments with new grantees, providing direct one-on-one technical assistance, facilitating learning communities, developing capacity-building resources, and managing an annual conference for grantees.

    Advancing Race Equity for Black Fathers, Families, Couples, and Youth in Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming (REFRAME)

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    Advancing Race Equity for Black Fathers, Families, Couples, and Youth in Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Programming (REFRAME)

    The Administration for Children and Families funds healthy marriage and responsible fatherhood (HMRF) programs to help families build and strengthen adult and parent-child relationships, establish strong foundations for family functioning, and ensure households are economically stable. Black Americans in particular, including those served by HMRF programs, face persistent challenges such as historical and ongoing trauma related to racism and systemic injustice, which pose unique barriers to family and child well-being. The REFRAME project takes important steps in promoting the well-being of Black individuals and couples participating in HMRF programs. It builds on a growing understanding of structural racism and its resultant inequities, focusing on authentic engagement with Black voices and available literature to acknowledge and document the unique assets, barriers, and needs among Black individuals and couples. The information gathered through these activities will identify gaps and opportunities related to research and practice. The project will also develop a framework and practitioner resources to guide HMRF programs in meaningful and sustained work to make services more equitable, relevant, and supportive for Black individuals and couples.

    Methodological Advancement Meetings

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    Methodological Advancement Meetings

    For the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), Insight has supported the Methodological Advancement Meetings since 2018 in disseminating cutting-edge innovations in social science research methodology. As part of the work, Insight is developing a series of 10 technical assistance briefs on high-priority topics in research and evaluation related to OPRE’s work. Based on feedback from focus groups with staff from OPRE, ACF, and outside experts, the issue of how to integrate an equity framework into research and evaluation activities was identified as a top issue to address in the briefs. In response, Insight is developing a brief on how to apply an equity framework to program evaluation and an accompanying bibliography of resources. Topics include applying an equity lens to data collection, the importance of engaging program participants in decisions about the use of data, and methods to include community voices and lived experience in evaluation research. Equity issues will be woven throughout other resources developed as part of this work, including updating OPRE’s Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation and new briefs on the use of narrative methods in social science research, building capacity for cultural competency in the delivery of human service programs, and strategies for community engagement in research processes.

  • Food and Nutrition

    WIC Breastfeeding Policy Inventory

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    WIC Breastfeeding Policy Inventory

    Breastfeeding rates have increased in the United States in recent years, but disparities by race and ethnicity, income, educational attainment, and maternal age persist. WIC State agencies have substantial flexibility in setting breastfeeding policies and procedures, so breastfeeding supports can vary among local agencies, even those within the same State agency. For example, agencies can implement breastfeeding peer counselor programs, provide training, and engage in communication campaigns with various audiences. The WIC Breastfeeding Policy Inventory study identifies processes that affect equity in breastfeeding policies, procedures, and practices at the State and local agency levels. To ensure a mindful and respectful study approach, the study is incorporating Insight’s CREE Checklist and disaggregating the data to measure disparities in the availability of breastfeeding supports and the importance of various attributes (e.g., representativeness, training, quality of support). Our subject matter expert on health equity is working closely with the study team to ensure important elements of the CREE Checklist are appropriately applied to enhance understanding of how study findings can help address disparities.

    SNAP Racial Equity Self-Assessment Tool

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    SNAP Racial Equity Self-Assessment Tool

    Insight collaborated with FNS’s Program Development Division to develop the Racial Equity State Agency Self-Assessment Tool. If implemented, this tool will support State agencies in using a racial equity lens to evaluate their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) policy choices and areas of SNAP operations where State staff exercise discretion with SNAP applicants and participants. The self-assessment asks States to examine policy and programmatic decisions made at the State level and areas of operational discretion at the local level that may disproportionately and negatively affect people of color, and then take action to address any identified issues.

  • Health

    Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model Evaluation

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    Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model Evaluation

    Rates of opioid use disorder (OUD) and opioid-related overdose deaths have rapidly increased over the last 10 years, especially among pregnant and parenting women.. The Maternal Opioid Misuse (MOM) Model is a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) patient-centered service-delivery model. It aims to improve the quality of care and reduce costs for pregnant and postpartum Medicaid beneficiaries with OUD and their infants through State-driven care transformation. The CMS Innovation Center contracted with Insight to conduct an independent evaluation of the MOM Model. This mixed- methods evaluation uses a broad definition of equitable care, including race/ethnicity, disabilities (including mental health), age, parenthood status, and low income status. In exploring the degree to which MOM Model beneficiaries receive equitable, coordinated care, Insight collects qualitative and quantitative data from sites. Insight’s evaluation team makes use of the CREE Checklist in developing evaluation design plans, reports of findings, and dissemination strategies.

  • Military and Veteran Support

    Conscious and Unconscious Gender Bias

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    Conscious and Unconscious Gender Bias

    Conscious and unconscious gender bias permeates society and continues to limit women’s participation and advancement even when equality has been legally established. This literature review is authored by Insight’s military and veteran support team and conducted for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (known as DACOWITS). The document reviews the academic foundations of bias; media coverage on gender bias within the U.S. military; and how gender-inclusive wording has been adapted within the U.S. military, foreign militaries, and U.S. commercial workplaces and civilian industries. The review concludes with identification of best practices and strategies to address conscious and unconscious gender bias through gender-inclusive wording and policies.

    Strategies to Increase Diversity in the Civilian Sector: Applications and Effectiveness of the Rooney Rule and Similar Approaches

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    Strategies to Increase Diversity in the Civilian Sector: Applications and Effectiveness of the Rooney Rule and Similar Approaches

    Although all military units and positions were officially opened to women as of December 3, 2015, gender diversity in the military remains nominal, especially at the highest echelons of Department of Defense leadership. Some branches have introduced—or are considering—various diversity initiatives, including efforts to increase diversity in key military development positions. Insight conducted this literature review for the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services to summarize how the Rooney Rule—a National Football League (NFL) policy requiring teams to interview minority candidates for senior coaching and management positions—is being used in the civilian sector to improve diversity in higher level jobs. This report provides an overview of diversity in the military and the civilian sector, describes the Rooney Rule and its effectiveness in the NFL, presents applications in the civilian sector, and identifies ways to increase diversity within organizations moving forward.