Data Collection Checklist

Published: December 23, 2012

NOTE: This toolkit was published by Building Changes in 2013 to help counties meet a 2014 state mandate that all counties have a coordinated entry system for clients entering the homeless system. It has not been updated since then and does not necessarily reflect current or best practice.


Based on HEARTH guidelines, Building Changes offers a checklist to assist in the development of a data-collection system.

Identify data sources

  • Intake and assessment data (HMIS)
  • Housing resources—inventory, waitlists, housing rosters, partner agency program guidelines, and housing matches (HMIS/parallel systems)
  • Case-management data (HMIS/parallel systems)
  • Client exit data (HMIS/parallel systems)
  • Survey/questionnaires data on the coordinated-entry process and tools—forms, database, and lead implementing agency
  • Survey data on provider services: quality of services, cooperation with policies and procedures, degree of collaboration with network of providers
  • Survey data on client experiences and housing-stability outcome
  • Environment data from associated systems: emergency medical services, eviction courts, calls for shelter/housing, etc.

Determine methods of collection

  • HMIS
  • Parallel systems that can merge or import data into HMIS that track housing services—inventory, waitlists, housing rosters, case-management services, partner agency program guidelines, client exit information
  • Surveys/questionnaires—from clients, providers, lead implementing agency
  • Data share between other community services, such as 2-1-1, emergency services, eviction courts, school counts of homeless students, for overview of changes to the homeless and at-risk environment
  • Point-in-time counts

Review current landscape for available database systems

  • Consider other platforms beyond HMIS to collect complete data.
  • Perform a capacity assessment and implement changes.
  • Can HMIS data be shared between partners?
  • Can parallel systems be merged to import/export data?
  • Have the data-collection system operational by launch of coordinated entry.

Develop data analysis and reporting process

  • Verify that all coordinated-entry forms match the data fields in HMIS and other data-collection systems used.
  • Determine deadlines for data entry and data collection from surveys.
  • Determine how yearly data from point-in-time and other community services will be incorporated to report on the effectiveness of coordinated entry system to address homelessness.
  • Identify which entity (lead fiscal agent, lead implementing agency, partner agencies, etc.) is responsible for collecting and reporting which particular data.
  • Develop data analysis tool or utilize this tool offered by National Alliance to End Homelessness (NAEH).
  • Create policies on timely, complete, consistent, and accurate data entry.
  • Confirm capability of agency/persons that will cross-reference and interpret data for primary stakeholders and the greater community.
  • Create communications plan on sharing data results.

Next: Database Capacity Assessment

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