Strengthening Grantee Capacity Through Evaluation Technical Assistance

December 21, 2018
Topics:
Abuse, Neglect, Adoption & Foster Care, Youth Services
Projects:
Building Capacity to Evaluate Interventions for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH), 2013-2019 | Learn more about this project
Types:
Reports
Strengthening Grantee Capacity Cover
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  • Pages 7
  • Published 2018

Introduction

The Children’s Bureau funded a multi-phase grant program referred to as Youth At-Risk of Homelessness (YARH) to build the evidence base on what works to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults who have been involved in the child welfare system. To date, there is very little evidence on how to meet the needs of this population.

In collaboration with the Children’s Bureau, the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) awarded evaluation technical assistance contracts to support grantees and build their capacity to use data, develop comprehensive service models, and design rigorous evaluations that will inform the field.

YARH Phase I grantees received group evaluation technical assistance (TA), including webinars, conference presentations, and peer-learning conference calls. YARH Phase II grantees work with two dedicated TA liaisons who hold monthly calls and support grantees in completing six templates as part of the Phase II work.

Purpose

Youth and young adults with child welfare involvement face significant challenges in their transition to adulthood, challenges that increase their risk of becoming homeless. The Children’s Bureau within the Administration for Children and Families developed a multi-phase grant initiative for planning, implementing, and evaluating comprehensive service models intended to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement.

In September 2013, the Children’s Bureau awarded 18 grantees two-year planning grants to develop a comprehensive service model to prevent homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement. In September 2015, Children’s Bureau awarded six of the original 18 grantees three-year grants to refine and test their comprehensive service model.

This issue brief discusses challenges YARH grantees faced, how they were addressed in evaluation technical assistance provided to YARH grantees, and thoughts on how to improve technical assistance. The issue brief is based on work with grantees as part of Phase I and Phase II.

Key Findings and Highlights

Grantees and the evaluation TA teams identified a variety of strategies to address the challenges they faced in Phase I and II of YARH:

  1. Clearly explain the roles of and need for collaboration between the grantees, ACF, and the TA providers
  2. Create time and space for broad discussions amongst grant participants to address each participants’ concerns
  3. Work together to identify, collect, and use administrative and other data to inform planning and support evaluation
  4. Clearly articulate that a rigorous evaluation is the only way to learn whether an intervention achieves the intended outcomes to help stakeholders, and that it takes a lot of preparation, since grantees may want to serve everyone immediately
  5. Demonstrate why grant-required plans and other evaluation planning activities are critical to the success of the evaluation
  6. Develop expectations, requirements, and supports that help grantees work from their own starting point and help grantees prepare their stakeholders for the slow and potentially iterative work of building evidence

Methods

Data for this brief come from conversations between Phase I and II grantees and Mathematica technical assistance liaisons while developing and implementing comprehensive service models.

Citation

Clary, Elizabeth, and M. C. Bradley (2018). Strengthening Grantee Capacity Through Technical Assistance. OPRE Report No. 2018-99. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Glossary

OPRE
Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation
Phase I
Grants awarded in 2013 by the Children’s Bureau to 18 communities in response to the funding opportunity announcement “Planning Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At Risk of Homelessness”
Phase II
Grants awarded in 2015 by the Children’s Bureau to 6 communities in response to the funding opportunity announcement “Implementing Grants to Develop a Model Intervention for Youth/Young Adults with Child Welfare Involvement At Risk of Homelessness”
YARH
Youth At Risk of Homelessness, acronym used to represent the initiative funded by ACF to support communities in addressing homelessness among youth and young adults with child welfare involvement
Last Reviewed: December 19, 2018