WithinReach Targeted Universalism and Baseline

Washington State / 2023


WithinReach is the organizing entity for Washington State’s Help Me Grow system (HMG WA) to help families have access to what they need when they need it, specifically access to essential services (e.g., basic needs, health care, developmental supports, and family supports) in a timely and appropriate manner. HMG WA adopted an equity-based targeted universalism framework to create and sustain unique pathways for under-invested and therefore marginalized sub-populations to access family resiliency, wellbeing, and protective factors. To support Targeted Universalism implementation, Seva Workshop compiled and curated public data and internal data, and conducted a series of interviews and Meaning Making workshops with systems leaders and partners to understand current conditions and baseline system performance. This rapid compilation and measurement provided insight into the availability of data, areas of unmet need across population subgroups, gaps in HMG service utilization and potential future performance metrics. 


The resulting data compendium will be a crucial resource for not only WithinReach, but also the larger system of prenatal programs and policy workers. By using data to highlight the needs of groups farthest away from universal early childhood goals, it will help orient resources and services in a more equitable manner. It is, however, only a first step, with much more community work and analysis to further curate the data that matters the most and to track progress. The Help Me Grow network hopes next to develop a focused theory of change and associated evaluation framework to articulate success and its indicators.

What is Targeted Universalism? Based on the work of john a. powell at the Othering and Belonging Institute, Targeted Universalism is a theoretical framework gaining much traction among policy-makers and service providers concerned with equitable outcomes. However, as with many theories, the greatest challenges lie in the details of application and operationalization. Within Reach and the Help Me Grow are at the vanguard of applying the concepts in Targeted Universalism in the complex systems of early childhood development where there are multiple outcomes and implicated policies. There were few precedents to work from and our clients comprise part of the first national cohort of Targeted Universalism practitioners hosted by the Othering and Belonging Institute. Bringing data, analysis, and measurement expertise together with strategic thinking, Seva Workshop was able to highlight a practical path to bringing Targeted Universalism to real-life decision making.
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