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April 2011Vol. 12, No. 3Evaluating Prevention Programs

A recent article in the Journal of Extension documents the challenges of simultaneously evaluating multiple child maltreatment prevention programs. The authors describe their work under a contract from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention/The Children's Trust Fund (CTF) to conduct an evaluation study of the State’s child abuse and neglect prevention programs funded by the department. The scope of the approximately 200 individual community-based programs was quite diverse, encompassing such areas as parent education/support, home visiting, respite care, fatherhood, community awareness, school-based and non-school-based/after-school programs, and mentoring.

A goal of the project was to empower grantees with an understanding of the value of systematic evaluation methods while simultaneously focusing on CTF's need for valid measurements of success and meaningful documentation of indicators of program impact. Built into the design were methods for standardizing data collection across programs within each program type to allow for the aggregation of data. Such efforts are important for providing tools to intermediary groups or agencies, determining the efficacy of providing funding support for programs, and assessing the impact of individual programs in order to make informed re-funding decisions.

Researchers used a three-tiered evaluation design that allowed them to collect both quantitative and qualitative data. Analyses of both types of data provided evidence of the positive outcomes from CTF-funded prevention programs for parents and youth in Alabama. In addition, the researchers made important discoveries about best practices in conducting this type of broad evaluation.

"Evaluating Multiple Prevention Programs: Methods, Results, and Lessons Learned," by Francesca Adler-Baeder, Jennifer Kerpelman, Melody M. Griffin, and David G. Schramm, was published in the December 2010 issue of the Journal of Extension. The article is available online: