Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pathways Updating AIRS Taxonomy

Pathways announces the implementation of the most current Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS) Taxonomy of Human Needs. Our target date for this implementation is February 15, 2010.

Currently the PATHWAYS COMPASS system utilizes a Taxonomy of about 7,000 Need Codes and associated Descriptions used by human service organizations. On February 15, 2010 Pathways will implement the most current AIRS Taxonomy, which will include more than 9,000 Need Codes and Descriptions. New descriptions have been added, old descriptions have been clarified, obsolete descriptions have been eliminated, and more detailed descriptions have been inserted as sub-levels of existing ones to give Pathways agencies more detailed descriptions of the services they provide.

What is a Taxonomy?
A Taxonomy is a particular classification of things or concepts, grouped into categories and arranged in a hierarchical structure according to their relationships to each other. In our case, descriptions of things and services that clients need are arranged into five levels, from general to specific. The codes assigned to each description range from a single letter for the most general, to several characters for the most specific.

The Taxonomy divides all human needs, services and target populations into ten general categories:

B - Basic Needs
D - Consumer Services
F - Criminal Justice and Legal Services
H – Education
J – Environmental Quality
H – Health Care
N - Income Support and Employment
P – Individual and Family Life
R – Mental Health Care Counseling
T – Organizational/Community/International Services
Y – Target Populations

The more detailed levels are currently represented by 3 digits. The new Taxonomy Need Codes will be expanded to 4 or 5 digits to accommodate the new descriptions.

These changes will be transparent to the user. All current data will be converted to the new codes and descriptions by Pathways. There will be a small number of Need Codes that will require agencies to evaluate the Need Codes most appropriate for them. More information about the specific Codes will be provided during the conversion.

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