We believe that program/policy evaluation and monitoring should not be imposed from “on high” but rather should be relevant to all involved with planning and implementation including those who:
- Provide funding (HHS, Congress)
- Receive funding (states, communities)
- Oversee programs (program directors and administrators)
- Implement programs (caseworkers and their supervisors)
- Benefit from programs (families and children)
Our approach to program monitoring and evaluation realizes the importance of each of these perspectives and engages them all in developing tools and methods for evaluating results. We do this by focusing on outcomes and asking the right questions of all involved in planning and implementing programs and policies:
- What was the existing program/policy context prior to implementation of the program/policy changes? This information provides the base line against which we can judge achievement. We also often consider comparison sites and programs.
- What are the intended outcomes under the new program/policy? What are the areas of agreement/disagreement between levels? This information helps us determine how results can best be achieved.
- What was achieved in terms of short-term (and long-term) outcomes by the program/policy? This information provides the program or policy impact — "The results" or impact resulting from the program or policy.
- What lessons were learned along the way? If systematically collected over the course of implementation, this qualitative information provides important insights to the field and helps interpret those outcomes achieved, and provides information on why others may have fallen short.