skip to Main Content


Lean Six Sigma Process Improvement Results:
Increasing Enrollment in Teen Parent Program by 50%

Cape Cod Child Development is a trailblazer in applying Lean Six Sigma to the nonprofit world. Learn how Laura D’Angelo is improving the enrollment rate for their Teen Parent Program!


Project Summary

Director of the Teen Parent Program at Cape Cod Child Development, Laura D’Angelo aims to increase enrollments from 6 to 13 by 12/31/2017.

Problem Statement:

Baseline is 6 enrollments and capacity is 13 enrollments, which results in less teens having support.

Business Case & Benefits:

It is important to do this project so that more teen parents can have support. It also impacts services such as WIC, Healthy Families, and high schools as they are stakeholders and have an interest also in providing support. If not done now, they could be at risk of being able to help more teens and losing part of a contract.

Check out their Executive Summary here.

So through our agency, we have family child care providers and the teens are able to have a voucher if they’re either in school or working at least 30 hours a week. So this is definitely helpful for them. They have a lot of responsibilities and try to balance everything with being a parent and working and going to school. So this child care can help them with that.

 

Define Phase: Identify the Problem

The Define Phase is the first phase of the Lean Six Sigma improvement process. In this phase the project team creates a Project Charter, a high-level map of the process and begins to understand the needs of the customers of the process.

This is a critical phase in which the team outlines the project focus for themselves and the leadership of the organization.

…we were able to see were some of what the issues were in terms of what the customers were saying. There had been a little bit of a wait for childcare and also for infant placement because unfortunately, there were not as many providers on the Cape. Placement may have been too far and the enrollment process may have been taking a little bit longer than we had anticipated.

So, these were some of the areas that we thought were very helpful to focus on in order to provide the best care and support for the family.

Check out their completed Lean Six Sigma Tools: Project Charter, SIPOC, Voice of the Customer Translation Matrix, “As-Is” Detailed Map Segment,


Measure Phase: Quantify the Problem

How does the process currently perform? Or in other words, what is the magnitude of the problem? Measurement is critical throughout the life of the project. As the team starts collecting data they focus on both the process as well as measuring what customers care about.

That means initially there are two focuses: reducing lead time or improving quality. In the Measure Phase, the team refines the measurement definitions and determines the current performance or the baseline of the process.

So this run chart is showing how the enrollment had fluctuated. Unfortunately, it had gone up and then went down but as you’ll see later on, that we have gone up to a pretty significant number since July. But this does show the variation and the number of enrollments over time.

Check out their completed Lean Six Sigma Tools: Data Collection PlanBaseline – Teen Enrollment


Analyze Phase: Identify the Cause of the Problem

The Analyze Phase is often not given enough attention and, without analysis, teams jump to solutions before knowing the true root causes of the issues. The result is teams who implement solutions but don’t resolve the problem! These efforts waste time, consume resources, create more variation and, often, cause new problems.

The ideal is for teams to brainstorm potential root causes (not solutions), develop hypotheses as to why problems exist and then work to prove or disprove their hypotheses.

Verification includes both process analysis and data analysis and has to be completed before implementing solutions. This is the crux of the Analyze Phase!

The biggest issues were the placement being available and the enrollment process taking a while. And there are different reasons why that could happen. The teens really have a lot on their plate in terms of being a parent, being in school, or working. So scheduling can be pretty difficult. So there are often times that we have to reschedule and that’s understandable.

But also, looking at eligibility is another piece. So there are certain documents that are required. So making sure that we have all of that in place before we can go ahead and enroll a family and family child care can take a little bit of time. So this was a good way to analyze this further.

Check out their completed Lean Six Sigma Tools: Fishbone Diagram, Swimlane Map, Root Cause Hypothesis, 5 Whys


Improve Phase: Implement and Verify the Solution

How will the team mitigate the root causes of the problem? Once the project teams have determined the root causes it’s time to develop solutions.

The Improve Phase is where the team brainstorms solutions, pilots process changes, implements solutions and lastly, collects data to confirm there is measurable improvement.

A structured improvement effort can lead to innovative and elegant solutions that improve the baseline measure and, ultimately, the customer experience.

…this is when we were able to look at the potential of what we were able to do. So streamlining the number of forms in the process was really helpful. So I was able to remove some forms, the whole team, we were all working together in removing forms together or combining some referral forms because again, we have paperwork for the teen program but also family childcare paperwork and then eligibility paperwork too.

Enrolling within 10 days of meeting and we try to do this by decreasing the number of emails, phone calls, and the meetings for the paperwork. So in order to decrease those steps, that was very helpful.

Check out their completed Lean Six Sigma Tools: Solution Selection Matrix, Implementation Plan, FMEA, “To Be” Map Segment, Run Chart – Improved Teen Enrollment


...it definitely makes me look at everything with having the [Lean] Six Sigma in mind at the same time. So no matter what I’m doing, I feel like I’m thinking, “OK, what is the easiest and most efficient way to do this?” No matter what it is.

Laura D'Angelo
Director of Teen Parent Program, Cape Cod Child Development

Control Phase: Maintain the Solution

Now that the process problem is fixed and improvements are in place, the team must ensure that the process maintains the gains.

In the Control Phase the team is focused on creating a Monitoring Plan to continue measuring the success of the updated process and developing a Response Plan in case there is a dip in performance.

Once in place, the team hands these plans off to the Process Owner for ongoing maintenance.

Benefits & Lesson Learned

Benefits:

  • More clarity was gained on the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the enrollment process
  • A deeper understanding on:
    • What forms are necessary/unnecessary
    • Eligibility factors
    • How the Family Child Care division rules and regulations impact the enrollment process

Lessons Learned:

  • Paperwork and enrollment process has been reduced via process walks
  • Understanding the voice of the customer was critical in understanding their requirements
  • Collecting data is critical to understanding performance and improving it
  • Although goal to full enrollment was not achieved, the team was able to improve the process as a whole

So some lessons learned, paperwork in enrollment process has been reduced through having these meetings and process walks with the team. So that was a really valuable way to know how to decrease the forms and the amount of steps that we have.

Check out their completed Lean Six Sigma Tools: Monitoring & Response Plan, Lessons Learned, Project Benefits


A Sneak Peak Into the Full Success Story Webinar:

Laura D’Angelo: So again, the project was so beneficial because I really was able to focus on analyzing further and seeing what areas needed the improvement so we could emphasize this, reducing the number of steps in the process, and increasing the enrollment.

We also gain more clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities of all the team members.

Elisabeth Swan: Like who does what.

Laura D’Angelo: Who does what, it’s so important, right? We need to know that right from the start. And what works and what doesn’t work. And like I said too, learning about the different divisions too and they all have different regulations and protocols so it was important for me to learn about that.

And our CEO had a great suggestion to give free diapers for teens that are participating. So we are going to look in to see if we have any of the funding to do that.

Elisabeth Swan: Well, that’s great in terms of all the services like there’s a very immediate need and immediate help which is fabulous. Really, really nice work, really great. You did great work understanding your process and getting to know the folks in it. I think your process walk was incredibly helpful for you.


View Slides


Register for Your Green Belt Training & Certification!

Plus, get $84 in bonus content for FREE with purchase.

Success Story Transcript

Elisabeth Swan: Hello and welcome to our Success Story Series hosted by GoLeanSixSigma.com. My name is Elisabeth Swan and I’m a Managing Partner and an Executive Advisor at GoLeanSixSigma.com.

We are very excited to have this offering for our audience because this is where the rubber meets the road. This is when we highlight someone who has completed a real project that had been implemented within their organization. And we get to share those stories with you.

Today, we are going to highlight a project success story that comes from the Cape Cod Child Development Organization. They are a nonprofit based on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which includes for those of you unaware of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, those famous islands along with the surrounding areas that’s all part of Cape Cod Child Development’s work area.

Their mission is to provide world-class child and family-focused programs that nurture each child’s full potential and their vision is taking care of Cape Cod’s children and families. This is a great nonprofit story.

About Our Presenter

And our presenter here today is Laura D’Angelo. Laura is the Director of the Teen Parent Program. And before we get started, I want to tell you a little bit about Laura. She has been here for about a year with Cape Cod Child Development and – but really, over 20 years in the area of child development. She worked for the group up in Summerville focused on early intervention. That’s also in Massachusetts.

She has worked in a lot of different roles but always helping families in what I can tell, there are a million different ways that you have.

Laura is, a little bit more about you on the non-work side, Laura is a competitive ballroom dancer, which I’m envious. And also, she sang in an Italian chorus. That sounds – it sounds so cosmopolitan. I love that.

Laura D’Angelo: Thank you.

Elisabeth Swan: It’s a great college. Well, thanks for joining us today, Laura, and thanks for sharing your success story. And now, I’d like you to tell us about your project.

Define Phase

Project Charter

Laura D’Angelo: Well, thank you so much, Lis. It’s such a pleasure to be here with you. I really enjoy this. So my project was to increase the enrollment for the Teen Parent Program. And by doing this, we were able to provide more support to more families who could use that support. So it was something that was really important because I feel like it’s just so valuable for family to have that support especially for younger parents.

Elisabeth Swan: So the enrollment had been low.

Laura D’Angelo: It had been low. It had unfortunately fluctuated a bit. But to the benefit of doing the Six Sigma project, it was actually able to increase. It does – it fluctuates from time to time but by doing this project, it was able to increase up to a higher number. So we were delighted about that.

Elisabeth Swan: And what kinds of work are you doing? What kind of benefits are you providing to the teen moms?

Laura D’Angelo: We have some home visiting services to talk about child development, to talk about stress of being a parent. And we also have a monthly support group where we also review child development topics and talk about health and safety, talk about nutrition. So there’s really a variety of topics that we are able to cover.

We just had an early literacy-focused last month too and the teens really enjoyed that. So we offer that.

And then we also offer a voucher for child’s care. So through our agency, we have family child care providers and the teens are able to have a voucher if they’re either in school or working at least 30 hours a week. So this is definitely helpful for them. They have a lot of responsibilities and try to balance everything with being a parent and working and going to school. So this child care can help them with that.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s great. That’s a good start. A worthy project.

Laura D’Angelo: Definitely.

Voice of the Customer

So this, what we were able to see were some of what the issues were in terms of what the customers were saying. There had been a little bit of a wait for childcare and also for infant placement because unfortunately, there were not as many providers on the Cape. Placement may have been too far and the enrollment process may have been taking a little bit longer than we had anticipated.

So, these were some of the areas that we thought were very helpful to focus on in order to provide the best care and support for the family.

Elisabeth Swan: Nice.

“As-Is” Detailed Map Segment

Laura D’Angelo: This is a detailed map of what we were looking at in terms of the different aspects that were involved with the programs. So I am in the Teen Parent Program as the Director but there is also an enrollment unit, a family child care unit, and then there’s a community aspect. So we were looking at of the different factors that are involved in the process.

And by doing that, we learned a more efficient way to enroll a parent in our program and in how to reduce the number of steps in the process. So this was really important especially being able to streamline the paperwork as well at the same time.

So we were looking at a few different things. The goal was the enrollment but it was also focusing on how to streamline these processes.

Elisabeth Swan: Absolutely, as a means to helping the enrollment go smoother and faster.

Laura D’Angelo: Exactly.

Elisabeth Swan: So you saw a lot of paperwork. You saw a lot of extra steps in here.

Laura D’Angelo: Exactly.

Elisabeth Swan: Yeah.

Baseline – Teen Enrollment

Laura D’Angelo: So this run chart is showing how the enrollment had fluctuated. Unfortunately, it had gone up and then went down but as you’ll see later on, that we have gone up to a pretty significant number since July. But this does show the variation and the number of enrollments over time.

Elisabeth Swan: Great. So we started with a little fluctuation and heading down.

Analyze Phase

Fishbone Diagram

Laura D’Angelo: And the fishbone also was able to show us where the concerns were in terms of how to analyze the enrollment process and how to look at the placement too. So this again had really helped with being able to figure out how to go forward from here.

Elisabeth Swan: So the biggest issues that you saw.

Laura D’Angelo: The biggest issues were the placement being available and the enrollment process taking a while. And there are different reasons why that could happen. The teens really have a lot on their plate in terms of being a parent, being in school, or working. So scheduling can be pretty difficult. So there are often times that we have to reschedule and that’s understandable.

But also, looking at eligibility is another piece. So there are certain documents that are required. So making sure that we have all of that in place before we can go ahead and enroll a family and family child care can take a little bit of time. So this was a good way to analyze this further.

Elisabeth Swan: And see what your barriers were.

Laura D’Angelo: Exactly.

Elisabeth Swan: And some of them, it sound like you have control over and some of them you don’t.

Laura D’Angelo: Right. Right. Unfortunately.

Root Cause Hypotheses & 5 Whys

The root cause hypotheses and 5 whys were really helpful too to break everything down again and look at also like just the number of emails that were going around. So because there were so many people involved, there were at times, excess emails. So we try to decrease that number, the number steps in the process to enroll and just also looking at the providers and the locations. So that is a little bit more for family child care unit. But it was helpful for all of us to take a further look at it.

Elisabeth Swan: It’s funny. I can hear children’s voices in the background from the Child Care Center. It’s so appropriate.

Laura D’Angelo: It’s so true. It’s so fitting right?

Elisabeth Swan: Absolutely. So good to this, you sort of figured out where your biggest controllable root causes were. That’s great.

Laura D’Angelo: Yes.

Elisabeth Swan: And then from there …

Improve Phase

Selected Solutions

Laura D’Angelo: And then from here, we have the selected solutions. And this is when we were able to look at the potential of what we were able to do. So streamlining the number of forms in the process was really helpful. So I was able to remove some forms, the whole team, we were all working together in removing forms together or combining some referral forms because again, we have paperwork for the teen program but also family childcare paperwork and then eligibility paperwork too.

Enrolling within 10 days of meeting and we try to do this by decreasing the number of emails, phone calls, and the meetings for the paperwork. So in order to decrease those steps, that was very helpful.

And then expanding outreach to the community helped with the enrollment part. So I had been doing outreach but I had expanded it further so that we could include even more providers who may not have even known about the program as well as some community agencies and some schools. So it was really important to outreach to everyone and especially where we can cover the entire Cape.

Elisabeth Swan: This is so interesting. I think a lot of your projects came upon this issue of forms that once you started looking at it, you said they were really too many and probably some of them were redundant.

Laura D’Angelo: Yeah.

Elisabeth Swan: So you really were able to just reduce the burden on the teen in terms of what they had to complete because they’ve got enough issues.

Laura D’Angelo: But that’s a really good point because you’re right, they have so much going on and so many forms and other meetings and programs that they are involved with that it really is a lot for them.

Elisabeth Swan: And the other one that was so interesting is the outreach that you really – it became a new step for you to go back to that to keep focusing on that outreach.

Laura D’Angelo: It did because I also was able to outreach in different manners. So there were telephone calls and emails and also sending letters out and making announcements at community meetings that I went to as well. So there were different methods and it was interesting to try the different methods and see what was more effective also.

Elisabeth Swan: So you did a little experimentation.

Laura D’Angelo: A little experimentation at the same time, right.

Elisabeth Swan: Which is great.

Laura D’Angelo: Yeah, it helps me to know moving forward what would work the best.

Elisabeth Swan: Nice. Nice job.

Laura D’Angelo: Thank you.

Run Chart – Improved Teen Enrollment

So as you can see here now, there has been some improvement. So we did have the – we have did before and after images and even though the enrollment fluctuates, it did go up in November up to 9. But I’m happy to say we are actually up to 11 right now in December. And we have the goal of 13. So I’m really pleased about that because we are able to give more support to more families. That’s what it’s all about.

Elisabeth Swan: And you’re not done.

Laura D’Angelo: And we’re not done. No, we’re definitely not done. More to come.

Lessons Learned

So some lessons learned, paperwork in enrollment process has been reduced through having these meetings and process walks with the team. So that was a really valuable way to know how to decrease the forms and the amount of steps that we have.

I also learned a lot from this project in the sense that there’s a lot to do with eligibility. So it was helpful for me to learn what the eligibility unit does, what the family childcare unit does in a little bit more in depth. And through conversation realized that it has been a little bit of a difficult area to assess but definitely well-worth it, very valuable, and families what we found out do need to update their status quite frequently. So they do need to meet because there are several changes that could be happening with their status in terms of school and work or where they are living and that in turn can affect whether or not they remain in the program. So that was something very valuable to learn about.

I unfortunately didn’t have any previous data to compare with old and new list but I was able to make the comparison for the past eight months. So that also was helpful.

The increase in outreach as I had mentioned was very helpful and just realized what all the factors were in terms of why enrollment could fluctuate.

Elisabeth Swan: So describe your outreach. Describe what that was like.

Laura D’Angelo: Well, I did – so I go to a lot of community meetings for a lot of the different roles that I’m in in my work so I was able to talk in community meetings about our Teen Parent Program and about having some availability to enroll other families if anyone had known of other teens who were in need of a program like this.

Also, email communication, phone calls, and letters providing more information about our program. I thought – I was surprised to see that there were several programs and physicians who were not aware of our program. So that outreach was very valuable in the sense that it really was able to help me to see what more needed to be done in terms of getting the word out there.

Elisabeth Swan: And now, they are aware and they can make the teens aware.

Laura D’Angelo: Exactly. Right. Right.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s great.

Laura D’Angelo: And just knowing about more practices that may not have known about the program that maybe we didn’t think about at first like there could still be several pediatrician offices that teens are going to. So they are a valuable outreach to do with the pediatrician offices as well.

Elisabeth Swan: Great. So really increase the knowledge of what’s available for the teen parents.

Project Benefits

Laura D’Angelo: So again, the project was so beneficial because I really was able to focus on analyzing further and seeing what areas needed the improvement so we could emphasize this, reducing the number of steps in the process, and increasing the enrollment.

We also gain more clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities of all the team members.

Elisabeth Swan: Like who does what.

Laura D’Angelo: Who does what, it’s so important, right? We need to know that right from the start. And what works and what doesn’t work. And like I said too, learning about the different divisions too and they all have different regulations and protocols so it was important for me to learn about that.

And our CEO had a great suggestion to give free diapers for teens that are participating. So we are going to look in to see if we have any of the funding to do that.

Elisabeth Swan: Well, that’s great in terms of all the services like there’s a very immediate need and immediate help which is fabulous. Really, really nice work, really great. You did great work understanding your process and getting to know the folks in it. I think your process walk was incredibly helpful for you.

Laura D’Angelo: Thank you, Lis. And it was a pleasure to work with you. You’ve been so supportive through the whole class and education of it all so thanks for being supportive.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s nice, Laura. All right, question for you. How is the completion of this project impacted how you look at things now?

Laura D’Angelo: That’s interesting because it definitely makes me look at everything with having the Six Sigma in mind at the same time. So no matter what I’m doing, I feel like I’m thinking, “OK, what is the easiest and most efficient way to do this?” No matter what it is. And it has been helpful because I am in different roles. I also run another program and help out in a third program. So between CFCE and Early Intervention, it’s also helpful in that sense too.

And I think it becomes something that after going through the Six Sigma training, it becomes something that’s natural. So how do we make things so that they are more efficient for everyone? And that includes families which is the most important.

Elisabeth Swan: Make me proud, Laura. How about – what about your next challenge? Do you have a project in mind?

Laura D’Angelo: I do have a project. I do have to focus on probably the CFCE Program that I’m running and what we can look at further in terms of the number of families who come to our groups. So we have several groups that we offer. So I think I’ll be probably zoning in on that.

Elisabeth Swan: Nice.

Laura D’Angelo: Thank you.

Elisabeth Swan: That’s great.

Getting Started

I’m Elisabeth Swan and you’re listening to a GoLeanSixSigma.com Success Story highlighting Laura D’Angelo. And thank you for joining us today, Laura, and for sharing your success story with us.

Laura D’Angelo: Thank you, Elisabeth. So proud to be a part of this.

Elisabeth Swan: Oh, that’s nice. I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today. I hope you found this success story helpful and as inspirational as I have.

If you have a success story and you’d like to share that with us, please send us a note at [email protected] Don’t forget to go to our website and view our other success stories and download any free tools and templates that you want from our website.

Thank you for joining us. Until next time.


Get the inside scoop on many other successful Lean Six Sigma projects at our Super Stories of Success page. Do you have a story to tell? We’d love to hear about your own project success! Please contact us.

Elisabeth Swan

Elisabeth is a Managing Partner at GoLeanSixSigma.com, the co-author of The Problem-Solver’s Toolkit and co-host of the Just-in-Time Cafe. For over 25 years, she's helped leading organizations like Amazon, Charles Schwab and Starwood Hotels & Resorts build problem-solving muscles with Lean Six Sigma to achieve their goals.