Strategy #1 - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Strategy #1

Develop standards for data collection about homelessness, including the use of common definitions, methods and counting.

There is a need to develop common standards regarding data collection and reporting on homelessness in Alberta. Presently no Alberta-wide standards exist. Definitions and terms used in measuring homelessness differ between agencies, making data comparisons imprecise. Counting methods vary widely among communities, making it impossible to obtain an accurate tally of the number of homeless Albertans. Data gathering approaches are also inconsistent, sometimes resulting in gaps of information.

Similarly, homeless-serving, municipal and local agencies are faced with data reporting requirements from the federal, provincial governments that are complex, onerous, inconsistent, redundant, and frequently of questionable use. An agency will often receive funding from multiple sources. This can include multiple ministries of the same government, which each later demand separate and different reporting from the agency. Although there have been efforts to streamline reporting, much work still needs to be done.

In tandem with the development of a new information system (see Strategy #2), the Alberta government will work with communities and homeless-serving agencies to develop common standards for data collection and reporting. This will include standard definitions and counting methods regarding homelessness. It will also include a determination of what data needs to be collected, whether certain data collection is meaningful, and how data should be shared in order to protect a client’s privacy while improving the effectiveness of services.

Work will also be undertaken to streamline reporting standards so that agencies need only submit one consistent set of reports to the Alberta government. This will be done with a view to the reporting requirements of other governments (i.e. federal, municipal) in order to minimize the burden placed on homeless-serving agencies.

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