For most “Program Evaluation” can be an overwhelming and complicated notion. Understanding our program’s impact on the families we serve is essential to effectively supporting survivors and fulfilling our mission of ending violence against women and children. Evaluation can also be very helpful in making the case for and acquiring funding and other resources for our programs to continue our work. There are a variety of ways to evaluate your program, from informal strategies such as satisfaction surveys or case reviews to more rigorous evaluations such as randomized control trials. According to the CDC, “When programs conduct strong, practical evaluations on a routine basis, the findings are better positioned to inform their management and improve program effectiveness in pursuit of these priorities.” Understanding what is working and what isn’t and documenting these outcomes helps us make better decisions about where to allocate resources in order to maximize our impact.
Key Resources for helping you to think about different kinds of evidence, evaluation and how these can inform our work:
- Centers For Disease Control and Prevention
- Domestic Violence Evidence Project
- VAWnet.org, the NRCDV’s online resource library
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
Programs can begin this process by thinking about the following six step public health method of evaluation from the CDC:
- Engage stakeholders, including those involved in program operations; those served or affected by the program; and primary users of the evaluation.
- Describe the program, including the need, expected effects, activities, resources, stage, context and logic model.
- Focus the evaluation design to assess the issues of greatest concern to stakeholders while using time and resources as efficiently as possible. Consider the purpose, users, uses, questions, methods and agreements.
- Gather credible evidence to strengthen evaluation judgments and the recommendations that follow. These aspects of evidence gathering typically affect perceptions of credibility: indicators, sources, quality, quantity and logistics.
- Justify conclusions by linking them to the evidence gathered and judging them against agreed-upon values or standards set by the stakeholders. Justify conclusions on the basis of evidence using these five elements: standards, analysis/synthesis, interpretation, judgment and recommendations.
- Ensure use and share lessons learned with these steps: design, preparation, feedback, follow-up and dissemination.