Monthly Archives: June 2012
|June 13, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Evaluation, Management, Research||
This spring I’ve been lucky enough to be working with a colleague on a multi-program evaluation project after an extended absence from the world of outcome measurement. It is a bit like riding a bicycle, in that your never forget HOW to do it, but it seems I did forget the pleasure that is found in working with agency staff as they help inform the evaluation plan and models, assist in identifying key indicators and witness the first round of data come in for review. Each project allows me to get up close and personal with a new nonprofit organization as well as to meet exemplary, dedicated nonprofit professionals at all phases of their careers, but there is something about evaluation that really gets to the essence of a nonprofit. I am, indeed, glad to be back in the measurement mix.
My colleague shared this link with me and because there is so much I love about this succinct, on point article, Six Pieces of Advice to Demystify Evaluation by Johanna Morariu, Director of the Innovation Network, I wanted to post on it rather than just send the link off into the tweetosphere.
No matter where your organization is in the evaluation (or for that matter strategic) planning process, start making data collection your friend. Immediately. It’s not going away (ever), there are more tools than ever before to help with it, and even if you hire an outside firm to conduct your evaluation – eventually their contract ends and it falls to your organization to sustain it. Don’t spend a dime on a contract or software until you know you will be able to do so. Not to worry though, a thorough consultant involves you and your staff in each step of the process and will provide the necessary technical assistance during the transition to ensure you will be able to take over the reins.
So, feel free to make eye contact with and extend a hand to that evaluation. Soon, when you are knee deep in useful data for your board, clients, funders and community supporters you won’t be able to remember life without it.
|June 9, 2012||Posted by M. P. under Drug and Alcohol, Evaluation, Policy, Program Model||
Having their start in the late 1980’s and gaining in popularity since, drug courts are court treatment programs that target criminal defendants, juvenile offenders, and/or parents involved in the child welfare system who have alcohol and drug addiction and dependency issues. There are now approximately 2,600 drug courts operating in the United States, with 50 percent of them exclusively for adult offenders.
The December 2011 report, The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation, by Shelli B. Rossman, John K. Roman, Janine M. Zweig, Michael Rempel and Christine H. Lindquist presents the findings of an extensive evaluation of the nation’s drug courts. The study examined the successful drug courts in reducing drug use and criminal activity among adult participants while having a positive impact on their lives in other ways. Key findings include,
- Yes, drug courts resulted in statistically significant reductions in relapse by participants. Compared to the group not on the specialized drug court track, participants were significantly less likely report any drug use (76 percent compared to 56 percent) in the past year (at the 1.5 year follow-up point). Also, fewer drug court participants tested positive for illegal drugs (29 versus 46 percent).
- Yes, drug courts resulted in a significant decrease in criminality of participants. Court patrons were significantly less likely than the comparison group to report committing crimes (40 versus 53 percent) in the year prior to the 1.5 year follow up contact. In fact, participants were also significantly less likely to report committing any crime at all at the six- month and the 18-month follow-up. Perhaps due to the nature the intervention, the researchers also found that drug court participation specifically reduced the crimes of drug possession, drug sales offenses, driving while intoxicated, and property related crime.
- Yes, members of the drug court sample did experience some positive personal outcomes outside of both reduced drug/alcohol use and criminality. Data from the 1.5 year follow up interviews indicated that drug court participants were significantly less likely than those in the comparison group to report an employment, education, or financial service need, and reported less family conflict. There were no differences between the groups for self-reported symptoms of depression or homelessness.
With evidence that drug courts are working better than the traditional justice system with these type of offenders, support of their use and expansion makes good academic, practical and fiscal sense. Information about the Allegheny County Drug Court (that has been in operation for nearly 15 years) is available at the Allegheny County Department of Human services website.