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Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Enhancing HMIS Data Quality
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Collecting quality information in any type of social research is a challenging task; it is especially challenging when collecting data on people experiencing homelessness. Faced with daily tasks such as looking for food, seeking shelter and income, or caring for their children, providing information to be entered into a homeless management information system (HMIS) is not one of their chief interests. Distrust of the social service system and mental health issues may further prevent many from disclosing personal information. In addition, homeless service staff members tend to focus on direct services and not on quality data collection. However, to fully understand the nature and extent of homelessness, associated service needs and service utilization patterns, it is critical to collect the most accurate and representative information on individuals and families who experience homelessness. Finding solutions to homelessness requires quality system-wide, longitudinal data. This paper will describe program and system level strategies to improve data quality. (Authors)
Washington, DC