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How one intake form saved LINC 85 days' worth of time

October 20, 2021
Female Employee Smiling in the Office, With Her Colleagues in Background.

When it comes to thinking about data in innovative ways, Bonterra Program Management (formerly Social Solutions) customer, Local Investment Commission (LINC), is a nonprofit trailblazer. Since the organization’s founding in 1992, LINC has pushed the boundaries of public-private collaboration to support families across the Kansas City community. And, by leveraging data and technology to increase efficiency and meet the community’s after-school care needs, LINC continues to increase its impact on Kansas City families.

“My last name has 13 letters, so you can imagine how many different ways I’ve seen it spelled over the years,” says Brent Schondelmeyer, the deputy director of community engagement at LINC. “Then, when you add in the issue of handwriting, my own name is an example of how challenging it can be to ensure data integrity across sets of paper-based forms and records.”

Brent’s is just one name. Now, imagine processing paper enrollment forms for more than 6,000 students (with 6,000 handwritten names) within just six weeks. This scenario is what LINC needed to work through each summer to enroll local children and families in after-school programs for the upcoming school year. Considering each enrollment form is three pages and goes out to about 6,000 students, which amounts to 18,000 pieces of paper to collect and process over the course of a few weeks. This created a daunting task for LINC and time-strapped families alike.

Or, it did, until Brent and his colleagues implemented one key process improvement.

From 18,000 sheets of paper to one online form

For the 2019 to 2020 after-school program enrollment period, LINC introduced an online form to allow parents and caregivers across the school districts to pre-enroll their child or children in after-school programs ahead of the late-summer dash. LINC’s web-based form asks parents to submit key information about the child, family, emergency contacts, and health considerations, along with two signatures from parents and/or legal guardians. The new form was available online through a mobile device or PC in both English and Spanish.

When LINC announced the availability of the after-school program pre-enrollment intake forms, the response from parents left Brent in disbelief.

Delivering what parents wanted

“I was stunned,” Brent said. “We sent an email around in July when we typically don’t have as ready access to parents and had a 49% open rate, which is very high. As soon as we sent that first email, people were acting on it immediately. Then, we sent a follow-up in early August, and we saw a 56% open rate. The immediate response to the pre-enrollment intake form was extraordinary.”

The quick uptake from parents was proof that LINC had implemented a major improvement in the enrollment process that parents welcomed. “To me, the success of the new pre-enrollment form showed that there was pent-up demand for an online option,” Brent explains.

What LINC’s web-based after-school program pre-enrollment form achieved for parents and adults is two-fold: greater convenience of enrolling children in programs and greater peace of mind knowing that children are set up for the school year ahead of time.

As Brent puts it, “We were able to give parents confidence that their children’s after-school arrangements were in place for the new school year. We wanted to make this experience better for families, and the online intake form powered by Bonterra Case Management solution enabled us to do that.”

Reclaiming 17 weeks’ worth of staff time

The outcomes of switching to an online form were equally impactful for LINC internally.

Before using a web-based form, the after-school program enrollment process was a tedious six-week endeavor for LINC staff, requiring thousands of handwritten paper forms and manually entering the data into the organization’s data management system.

Having parents and caregivers enter their children’s enrollment information directly into LINC’s system through the electronic form eliminated the need for staff to perform manual data entry. As a result, LINC staff were able to save the equivalent of 85 days’ or 17 weeks’ worth of time. This meant that staff could focus more on other more pressing tasks like meeting families and organizing programs for the upcoming year, rather than administrative duties.

“As our trusted technology partner, Bonterra Program Management has the capacity and desire to help us meet the needs of our community in new ways,” says Brent. “Everything we do in human services should be shaped by community needs – but you need data to be able to access, understand, and respond to those needs. At LINC, we continually look at ways to stretch our system to help us increase efficiency internally, enhance services and programs externally, and optimize the way we collect and use data to drive impact.”

Bonterra Program Management allows nonprofit organizations to improve their impact through easy-to-use software that helps them do more with data. Learn how Bonterra’s Case Management solution may be the key to unlocking your organization’s purpose.

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