Strategic Business Plan

Strategic Business Plan 2017 - 2020

What we do and how we do it

PolicyWise has developed an approach that is built on collaboration with multiple partners and stakeholders across sectors and disciplines to develop capacity, knowledge, and skill in researchers, policy makers,
service providers, and families.

To achieve this, PolicyWise’ five core functions are:

  • Engage in research, evaluation, communication,and knowledge mobilization
  • Conduct, fund, and build capacity in applied research
  • Link, analyze, and manage data
  • Manage resources and strategic relationships
  • Measure and communicate our impact and value

We have focused our efforts on five research themes that help address the most significant challenges in Alberta’s social system. These are:

  1. Early childhood development;
  2. Middle childhood and youth well-being;
  3. Family capacity building;
  4. Community capacity building; and
  5. Tracking long-term outcomes

Initiatives and Projects

A complete listing of our projects and initiatives, funded research and knowledge mobilization initiatives is available in our annual reports. The following initiatives have been selected because of significant factors such as potential policy and program impact.

CYDL: Experiences of Youth over Time, 2005/06 to 2010/11

The longitudinal child and youth study connects over 25 program databases from across five ministries. The project provides the opportunity to examine issues such as child poverty, youth transition, resiliency and many cross-ministry policy questions. The possibility of retrospective and/or prospective longitudinal studies using such data provides great opportunities to understand complex relation-ships and associations of multiple factors such as health, education, family, justice system, and social determinants for the well-being of children and youth.

SAGE - Secondary Analysis Generating Evidence

PolicyWise is the lead organization developing SAGE, an innovative data and research facility where data will be stored and accessed for secondary analysis to improve child development, research and policy. As a first step, development activity is focusing on the research data repository (RDR) component including how data from the All our Babies (AOB) and Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) follow-up studies (and several other research datasets) could be incorporated. Eventually, with the appropriate mechanisms in place, the research data will be linked with administrative data allowing for the most comprehensive data set on children available in Canada.

Early Childhood Development Research and Innovation Strategy

PolicyWise is co-leading the development of a research and innovation strategy to support the Government’s Early Childhood Development Initiative. The goals are to build awareness of existing research, influence the creation of new knowledge and create a collaborative environment that enhances relationships between researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the public to the benefit of early childhood development.

Support for the Five Point Plan to Improve the Child Intervention System

PolicyWise is playing a significant role in leading the development of the Child Intervention Service Quality Framework that will be utilized by the Child and Family Services Council for Quality Assurance to monitor and report on quality. This is a critical knowledge generation
and mobilization activity that can lead to measurable policy and program improvement.

Children’s Mental Health

PolicyWise is supporting a number of initiatives to increase knowledge and improve services to children with mental health concerns. Examples of projects include the Children’s Mental Health Learning Series, partnerships with the Mental Health Patient Advocate and Office of the Child and Youth Advocate to increase access to services for children with complex needs, the Alberta Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) Survey and five-year randomized control study to introduce and assess the impacts of the PAX Good Behaviour Game and Triple P Positive Parenting Program in schools across Alberta. The projects support Creating Connections, Alberta’s addiction and mental health strategy.

Indigenous Research Strategy

PolicyWise has been working to increase knowledge and understanding the factors that underlie Aboriginal over-representation in the child intervention systems with a focus on the social determinants of health. We are in partnership with Blue Quills First Nations College and the Government of Alberta undertaking a community-based research study focusing on Aboriginal omen’s economic security. PolicyWise’ Aboriginal Advisory Committee is providing leadership and guidance on the development of an Aboriginal research strategy and ensuring our Aboriginal research and evaluations are meaningful, respectful and sustainable.

Housing and Homelessness Research Strategy

PolicyWise has entered into a partnership with the Alberta Inter-agency Council on Homelessness to develop a research, knowledge mobilization and data linkage strategy to support the province’s 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness. The goal of the strategy is to put research and evaluation into the hands of service providers and policy makers to prevent and end homelessness in Alberta. The unique needs of vulnerable populations and Aboriginal People have been taken into consideration in the development of the research priorities.

Innovative Models Promoting Access-to-Care Transformation (IMPACT)

PolicyWise is a partner in the IMPACT initiative which is a Canadian-Australian collaboration that brings together leading researchers in primary care, health services research and implementation science together with communities of practice in six regions in Australia and Canada to identify, refine and then trial ‘world’s best practice’ innovations to assist access, particularly for vulnerable populations.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategy

PolicyWise has been a partner in the long-term strategy to address Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) since its inception in 2003. PolicyWise’ contribution will increase knowledge in this area as well as build capacity for evidence-informed program and policy. We are involved in many initiatives including managing the 7-year evaluation of the Government’s FASD 10-Year Strategic Plan, Canada FASD Research Network Diagnostic Assessment Data analysis, FASD Youth Mentoring Evaluation and evaluation of Parent Child Assistance Program (FASD prevention program) in First Nations communities.

Strategic Directions

The following table illustrates how the major initiatives of PolicyWise that align most with relevant strategic directions.

Strategic Direction Initiative
Lead in the management, linkage, and analysis of administrative data and research to identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Child and Youth Data Laboratory Longitudinal Study
  • SAGE
Build capacity for the generation and use of policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research in the domains of child, family and community well-being.
  • Indigenous Research Strategy
  • Early Childhood Development Research
  • and Innovation Strategy
  • Housing and Homelessness Research Strategy
Mobilize knowledge built on evidence to support cross-sectoral policy and service delivery.
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Strategy
  • Innovate Models Promoting Access-to-Care Transformation
  • Children’s Mental Health
  • Support for the Five-Point Plan to Improve the Child Intervention Strategy
Measure the impact of PolicyWise initiatives.
  • All initiatives


PolicyWise’ outcomes are tracked and monitored through our performance management process. Specific accomplishments will continue to be described in our annual report. Details such as performance metrics and milestones will be contained in our operational plan. Our key outcomes are listed here by fiscal year, as they align with more than one strategic direction and major initiative.

Fiscal Year 2014/15

  • PolicyWise’ combined efforts have led to the accomplishment of key goals identified within Alberta’s Social Policy Framework.
  • PolicyWise’ research strategies have been adopted and are increasing awareness and collaboration among researchers, communities, government and funders.
  • PolicyWise has influenced identifiable improvements in the Child Intervention system through its work to develop the Child Intervention Service Quality Framework.
  • PolicyWise’ research impact assessment matrix is designed with multi-sector, interdisciplinary input including front-line service providers, community agencies, policy makers, caregivers and researchers.


Fiscal Year 2015/16

  • The Child and Youth Longitudinal Study (Project 2), produces new knowledge that is disseminated widely and embedded within the knowledge management strategy of child-serving Ministries.
  • Alberta researchers are depositing their data to the Child Data Centre’s Research Repository and new projects have been initiated.
  • PolicyWise’ model for capacity building is articulated and embedded in all large-scale initiatives undertaken and supported by The Centre.
  • PolicyWise has developed a significant initiative to be supported by the Social Innovation Endowment (SIE) Fund.
  • PolicyWise’ Research Impact Assessment matrix is tested and implemented.
  • PolicyWise’ Evaluation Quality Assurance Framework is designed and used to guide assessment of all evaluation projects submitted to and managed by PolicyWise.

Fiscal Year 2016/17

  • PolicyWise is a leader in administrative data linkage and analysis, and administrative data flows to us on a regular basis to ensure timely support to emerging government priorities.
  • PolicyWise has successfully achieved the next steps in our innovative approach to data linkage such as enabling linkage between the research data and other types of data.
  • PolicyWise increases provincial capacity to generate and use policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research generated from its research strategies.
  • PolicyWise develops effective strategies to assess the impact of the Social Innovation Endowment Fund.
  • PolicyWise’ Research Impact Assessment matrix and Evaluation Quality Assurance framework are evaluated to ensure effectiveness.

Fiscal Year 2017/18

  • PolicyWise’ analytical expertise and products are regularly sought after and used by Government departments to inform policy and practice decisions to benefit children, families and communities.
  • The final stage of our data sharing vision is implemented through the inclusion of data from community organizations to improve policy and service delivery outcomes.
  • PolicyWise’ model for building capacity for policy-relevant, interdisciplinary research is shared provincially and nationally.
  • PolicyWise can demonstrate its essential role in providing evidence for policy and service delivery within our five research themes: PolicyWise utilizes its impact measures to inform strategic directions for the 2018/21 Strategic Business Plan.
  • PolicyWise utilizes its impact measures to inform strategic directions for the 2018/21 Strategic Business Plan.

Financial Forecast

PolicyWise achieves its mission by managing and operating three separate funds, each of which is reported separately in the financial statements: Research, Child and Youth Data Lab and Operations. A new fund will be created to capture the activity of SAGE.

Through the Research Fund, PolicyWise funds and conducts research and evaluations and mobilizes knowledge. The full costs of supporting research have not been historically covered through the grant received and the deficit is covered through reserve funds. PolicyWise has started to include a cost recovery amount within most contracts to ensure that the projected deficit in the Research Fund is reduced.*

The source funding for the Child and Youth Data Lab (CYDL) has come from the Alberta Government on a year-by-year basis. The strategy for the future is to create a sustainable business model for the CYDL with multiyear, annualized funding to ensure timely data-informed decisions for integrated, cross Ministry policy decisions.

The Operations Fund bears all of the indirect costs of PolicyWise associated with the running and maintaining of research and knowledge mobilization programs. There are predictable increases in the costs of support services such as information technology and equipment upgrades.


Moving Forward

This strategic plan will help us achieve our overall objective to inform policies and practices for children, families and communities. We look forward to working with our partners to finalize initiatives that are already underway, and act upon those initiatives that are in the early stages. We hold ourselves to the highest standards for delivering quality services and products, which in turn drives our passionate pursuit of organizational excellence. During the course of this plan, PolicyWise will continue to commit to organizational excellence through providing leadership and team development, technical training, and internal capacity building in our
core functions.

PolicyWise is optimistic about the future with a strong emphasis on improving Alberta’s social system through evidence and innovation. Our strategic plan will help us focus resources and efforts, while also identifying gaps and new opportunities for growth or refinement. By utilizing a continuous evaluation cycle from data and information to evidence and wisdom, in partnership with government, academia, and the community, we can be assured of success.