Evaluating Multiple Prevention Programs: Methods, Results, and Lessons Learned
Extension professionals, grassroots organizations, and state agencies often partner to evaluate external programs, though these programs are often unique and lack standards that can be readily compared among them. This article looks specifically at community-based programs funded by the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention which has approximately 200 programs and eight primary areas of focus. An outline for methods to standardize the data collection across the unique programs is explained as a way to aggregate results for evaluation. Program evaluations are used for many purposes including reporting results for impact and continued public relation support, seeking additional funding, identifying program stengths and weaknesses, and comparing comparing programs.
Key elements of the evaluation approach:
- Valid measurement of participant demographics across all programs
- Valid measurement of program impact based on participation
- Aggregation of program impact evidence across similar programs
- Inclusion of "user friendly" methods of data collection
These elements are the base for evaluation design and structuring into three tiers from basic analysis to more complex qualitative data analysis. A complete summary of the evaluation tiers, results, and lessons learned are available in the online article.