"And I think with the integrating of the protective factors, in every aspect, internally from administration, from HR, through community impact, through community development, through children's initiatives, through your donors, through your volunteers, it's a very good way, a great framework, to get to measurable outcomes." - Barbara, High Point Site
In the Planning stage of your UWSF work you used an outcomes-focused planning process to prioritize ways to implement UWSF that address your desired community outcomes; targeted those strategies to your audience; and identified short-term, intermediate, and long-term outcomes. Integrating ongoing evaluation into your work enables ongoing learning, course correction, and measuring progress and results.
Evaluating local Strengthening Families initiatives requires both process and outcome evaluation to assess how well the work is achieving its goals. The logic model and evaluation plan that you created in the Planning Stage and carried out in the Implementing stage will be the foundation for the Evaluating stage (see below).
Process Evaluation typically focuses on how an initiative is working and can include evaluation questions such as:
- Who is involved in the work?
- Have partners created outcome-focused strategic plans with measureable outcomes?
- How are families engaged?
- Is the initiative unfolding as intended and consistent with the theory of change outlined in the logic model?
- What refinements or changes are needed?
Outcome Evaluation focuses on the ways in which the target audience changes as a result of your efforts and includes questions such as
- How much were outcomes for families and/or children achieved as a result of your work?
- How were these outcomes achieved and how do you know this?
- Were certain outcomes better achieved for certain target audiences (e.g. single parents, parents of infants, parents using formal child care, etc.)?
Although it is especially challenging to measure the outcome of work that aims to prevent abuse and neglect because it is hard to measure what you have prevented, there are ways to measure both the process and outcomes of your Strengthening Families work.