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- Why should I evaluate my program?
- How do I make sense of evaluation information?
- How do I use evaluation results to improve programs that benefit children and families?
This manual is designed to provide you with guidelines for planning and implementing a program evaluation. Each of the chapters addresses specific steps in the evaluation process and provides guidance on how to tailor an evaluation to your program's needs. The manual is not intended to turn you into a professional evaluator or to suggest that evaluation is a simple process that anyone can perform. Rather, it is meant to provide information to help you understand each step of the evaluation process so that you can participate fully in the evaluation, whether you hire an outside evaluator or decide to do an evaluation with assistance from in-house agency staff and resources.
As with the original edition of The Program Manager's Guide to Evaluation, this edition explains what program evaluation is, why evaluation is important, how to conduct an evaluation and understand the results, how to report evaluation findings, and how to use evaluation results to improve programs that benefit children and families.
Evaluation helps you answer critical questions about your program:
Has the program been successful in attaining the anticipated implementation objectives? (Are you implementing the services or training that you initially planned to implement? Are you reaching the intended target population? Are you reaching the intended number of participants? Are you developing the planned collaborative relationships?)
Has the program been successful in attaining the anticipated participant outcome objectives? (Are participants exhibiting the expected changes in knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, or awareness? Can these changes be attributed to the program?)
Key Findings and Highlights
Program evaluation can help you accomplish the following:
- Find out what is and is not working in your program
- Show your funders and the community what your program does and how it benefits your participants
- Provide evidence of your program’s effectiveness
- Improve your staff's work with participants by identifying your program’s weaknesses as well as strengths
- Add to the existing knowledge in the human services field about what does and does not work in your type of program with your kinds of participants
This manual explains what program evaluation is, who should conduct an evaluation, how to hire and manage an outside evaluator, how to prepare for an evaluation, what to include in an evaluation plan, how to get the information you need for the evaluation, and how to report evaluation findings.