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May 2018Vol. 19, No. 4Using Research to Support Programs Promoting Parental Economic Security and Child Well-Being

The Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation, which is within the Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released a brief that describes an approach to research and evaluation that can help promote programs for parental economic security and child well-being. The brief is designed to inform program leaders and staff about using research to optimize and assess supports and services for low-income parents and children. These two-generation programs seek to promote better child outcomes by helping parents achieve economic security through employment and education assistance.

Included in the brief are a description of research and evaluation approaches to help create more successful and coordinated services for children and families. It also explores how to build a foundation for data-informed program improvement and how research and program partners can spur program development. The brief recommends creating a logic model to determine program services and project potential outcomes. Further, the brief advises that once a logic model is defined, program leaders and staff need to develop a way to measure services and outcomes by analyzing administrative data, participant information and feedback, service quality, and external data. Program leaders can then use the data to adjust their services accordingly.

The brief also includes examples of how stakeholders can compare data with the logic model and adjust program operations, adjust the logic model itself, and/or use program data to assess service approaches for better outcomes. It also touches on the research and evaluation capacity of three programs that coordinate services for families and children: Next Generation Kids, College Access and Success, and CareerAdvance.

The brief explains how partnering with organizations that support peer networking has been particularly helpful. It points, for example, to the U.S. Department of Labor's Strengthening Working Families initiative. The Department of Labor initiative supports peer sharing through moderated discussions where experts respond to questions posed by grantees or peer participation in facilitated conference calls on issues such as participant recruitment or child care resources.

Using Research and Evaluation to Support Programs That Promote Economic Security and Children's Well-Being is available at (541 KB).