Our Tomorrows: Working With Stories to Solve Complex Problems




Jacklyn Biggs and Keil Eggers

Brief Type




Our Tomorrows asks a simple question: “Do you remember a time when you felt like your family or another family you know was thriving, or just surviving? What happened?” To date, over 1,000 Kansans have shared their stories using Our Tomorrow’s innovative SenseMaker instrument. The broad range of stories collected thus far allows researchers and practitioners to make novel insights into the factors that families need in order to thrive. By looking at patterns in the respondents’ interpretations, Our Tomorrows has uncovered themes in the areas of disruptors to a family’s life course and trajectory in the early childhood system, unmet needs, unheard voices and bright spots of resilience across the state. This mixed-methods approach combines the power of personal stories with the rigor of quantitative data, making it ideal for both decision-making and advocacy. Our Tomorrows is part of the Early Childhood Systems Building work being led collaboratively by the Kansas Department of Education, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Kansas Department for Children and Families, and the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. The statewide rollout of this story-collection method and complexity-informed decision-making is blazing new trails in evaluation and anticipatory governance via Community Action Labs that could be a model for future best practices. Through ongoing collection of lived experiences, home visitors and program administrators can monitor the progress of interventions in real time and proactively respond to emerging trends. (author abstract)

Data Collection Methods

  • Surveys or questionnaires



For More Information

Biggs, J., & Eggers, K.  (2020, January 31). Our tomorrows: Working with stories to solve complex problems. National Home Visiting Summit. Presentation conducted at the conference of The Ounce, Washington, DC.
Link to Presentation
Link to Additional Presentation Material


  • Program Enhancements, Innovations, and Promising Approaches
  • Program Quality, Continuous Quality Improvement, and Fidelity