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April 2014Vol. 15, No. 4Research and Evaluation, Virtual Summit Series Updates

Research and Evaluation Workgroup

In recent issues of Children's Bureau Express, the Children's Bureau introduced the Child Welfare Research and Evaluation Workgroups, three groups of national child welfare experts that were convened by the Bureau after the 2011 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit. Each workgroup examined a particular evaluation topic with the goal of improving child welfare research and evaluation and strengthening the link between research and practice. In February, publications from two of the three workgroups were released and are available on the Children's Bureau website.

In March, the third and final workgroup publication was made available.

Framework Workgroup

Child welfare programs and services have the potential to improve outcomes for children and families, but sometimes, child welfare systems miss opportunities to determine which interventions work, for whom they are effective, and how they can be consistently implemented. The Bureau convened a group of national experts to create a framework to guide program evaluators, administrators, and funders through the process of building evidence and implementing evidence-supported interventions. The framework is intended to encourage the thoughtful use of evaluation to promote sound decision making. This framework is designed for anyone who implements and evaluates child welfare interventions—whether it's a new intervention, an existing evidence-supported program, or a longstanding practice that has yet to be formally tested. To learn more, download the workgroup's publication A Framework to Design, Test, Spread, and Sustain Effective Practice in Child Welfare:

Virtual Summit Series

The Children's Bureau also recently announced the Child Welfare Evaluation Virtual Summit Series, a group of videos that tackle an evaluation topic, propose solutions to common evaluation problems, and direct viewers to additional tools and resources. The first three videos have been released, and subsequent videos will be released through June 2014: 

  • Cost Analysis in Program Evaluation: Cost Analysis in Program Evaluation Parts 1 and 2 discuss why and how to perform cost analysis in child welfare. Dr. Phaedra Corso, a national expert in economic evaluation, and Mike Shaver, a private agency executive, provide a fun and practical introduction to cost analysis, explaining how it can be a helpful tool when integrated with program evaluation. They introduce concepts and steps that can be applied by agency directors and managers, program directors, and evaluators.
  • Casework and Evaluation: Learning From My Success Story: A caseworker recalls one of her most rewarding and successful child welfare cases and explains the unexpected role that evaluation played in delivering the services and supports that made a difference for two teenage girls and their mother. This video is relevant for all stakeholders involved in child welfare evaluation and for child welfare caseworkers, supervisors, managers, and program evaluators in particular.
  • What's the Difference? Constructing Meaningful Comparison Groups: With the help of animated characters, this video uses straightforward language to explain why comparison groups are important. The narrators introduce four common types of comparison groups and describe how and when they can be used to strengthen program evaluation. While potentially useful for a wider audience, the video was designed with agency directors and managers, project directors, and program evaluators in mind.