Ideally, evaluation is treated as part of service delivery. A plan for evaluation should be built into any program that provides supportive services to children and families.

An evaluation plan specifies the activities, staff assignments, and timelines that will be followed to ensure programs are using data to better understand outcomes and to improve services.

Some prevention programs have the internal capacity to plan and implement an evaluation of their participant outcomes. However, some may need outside assistance for tasks such as data collection and analysis. Other programs may choose to contract with an evaluation consultant to help plan and implement the majority of their evaluation activities.

Evaluation planning starts with a logic model. If you haven’t developed a logic model or if you want to know more about them and their importance to the evaluation process, please go here.

Your evaluation plan should answer the following questions:

What data are needed to assess whether desired outcomes are being achieved?

  • Are the outcomes and indicators on our logic model measurable?
  • What tools will we use to collect the data (surveys, observations, etc.)?
  • Do we have the tools? Do we need to purchase them?
  • Do staff need training on administering the tools?
  • What demographic information do we need? Do we already have access to it?

What process will be used to collect data?

  • Do we need IRB approval to collect data?
  • Do we have an informed consent form for the participants?
  • When will the data be collected? Who will collect it?
  • How much time is needed to collect data?

How will you manage your data?

  • Where will data be stored?
  • Who will enter data into a database or spreadsheets?
  • What are the timelines for data entry?

What is your plan for making use of the data you gather?

  • When will you meet to review the data?
  • Who will present the data in a format for review? Tables, charts, etc.
  • Who will report on finding and make recommendations?
  • Who will receive your evaluation reports?

Where else can I find information on evaluation planning?

In addition to the resources offered in this toolkit, FRIENDS has identified a few web-based resources that can help social service programs as they plan for evaluation. See below:

Free Management Library, Basic Guide to Outcomes-Based Evaluation for Nonprofit Organizations with Very Limited Resources, Adapted from the Field Guide to Nonprofit Program Design, Marketing and Evaluation. Web site: http://www.managementhelp.org/evaluatn/outcomes.htm#anchor30249

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs: A Self-Study Guide, Web site: http://www.cdc.gov/eval/guide/index.htm

Administration on Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, The Program Manager’s Guide to Evaluation, Web site: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/opre/report/program-managers-guide-evaluation-second-edition

W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Evaluation Handbook, Web site: https://evaluationguide.wkkf.org/

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