This month, HUD released the new HMIS Data Standards Manual and an accompanying HMIS Data Dictionary.
A brief description of each:
HMIS Data Standards Manual – This Manual is intended to serve as a reference and provide basic guidance on HMIS data elements for CoCs, HMIS Lead Agencies, HMIS System Administrators, and users.
HMIS Data Dictionary – The HMIS Data Dictionary is designed for HMIS vendors, HMIS Lead Agencies, and HMIS system administrators to understand all of the data elements required in an HMIS, data collection and function of each required element and the specific use of each element by the appropriate federal partner. The HMIS Data Dictionary should be the source for HMIS software programming.
HMIS systems must be able to collect all of the data elements defined in the HMIS Data Dictionary, support system logic identified in this document, and ensure that data collection and the visibility of data elements is appropriate to the project type and federal funding source for any given project.
Sounds fun, right? :) So, what does this really mean?
For MAAC, this means working with our developer to ensure the updates are implemented, tested, and pushed out to the software so that MAACLink is HMIS “compliant” with HUD. Hopefully this all happens by October 2014. We will also discuss these changes with the appropriate CoC contacts, and in different ways, share the basic information with users through training and other communication. What’s kind of cool about this, is that it also coincides with some CoC’s evolving data systems processes and can go hand-in-hand with these changes.
For our MAACLink agencies (particularly those that receive HUD funding), this means making sure any new/changing required data elements are updated on intake forms and are being correctly collected for the clients who are being served in these programs. It also means learning about the ways this data reflects how our community is serving the populations that we do… through reports, it tells a story of “who and how” and “how well” we are doing. And affects funding.
The hope is that we can all work together to get a better understanding of this through coming up with data guidelines specific to our CoCs (in addition to HUD’s data requirements, what do we want to see and report on for our communities?), training to this information (through CoC meeting and MAACLink training), and monitoring the data.
Needless to say, it will be a busy time between now and October to implement these changes as well as keep up with “business as usual”. But, we’re confident that this is a step in a good direction.