A report from Child Trends, What Works for Promoting and Enhancing Positive Social Skills:Lessons from Experimental Evaluations of Programs and Interventions by Tawana Bandy and Kristin A. Moore, details the most effective methods to foster said skills from a sample of 38 evaluated programs. The brief classifies the programs (all of which were evaluated with experimental research designs) into the categories of “not proven to work,” “mixed reviews” and “proven to work.” Overall, 27 of the interventions that focused on improving social skills had a measurable beneficial impact, but some programs were more effective than others.
Since knowing what works is key to developing a successful program, visit the Child Trends website to read about the most effective social skills programs for youth (some of which have manuals available).
The New York Times is reporting that The Seattle Foundation has opened up it’s data-banks and is offering the public access to its research, evaluation and other data on 700 nonprofit organizations and groups in the Seattle, Washington area. The article, Data on Seattle Nonprofits is now Public by Stephanie Strom notes that while some community foundations have been more transparent regarding data about the nonprofits they fund, the Seattle Foundation’s initiative puts program information, evaluation reports and financial data at the donors’ fingertips.
Anything that streamlines locating and accessing data on nonprofit operations, programs and results while promoting lesser known nonprofits to a larger donor audience is good news. That said, both nonprofits and donors must keep in mind what these data are (snapshots of programming including who it served and what it accomplished) and are not (a comprehensive picture of a nonprofit, a sure-fire way to double your donor base) so that neither falls into the trap of hasty conclusions or generalizations based on a single program evaluation or fiscal year.
A fantastic opportunity to sharpen your survey development skills is available at the American Evaluation Association Community eLibrary in the form of a Powerpoint workshop from their 2010 Institute.
The presentation, Improving Survey Quality: Assessing and Increasing Survey Reliability by Amy A. Germuth, Ph.D., discusses how to design high-quality surveys (and in my experience better surveys usually lead to better data). This session, which covers improvement of survey reliability and validity, pilot testing and statistical analysis is available for download here.
The Strengthening At-Risk and Homeless Young Mothers and Children Initiative, is an initiative of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, in partnership with The National Center on Family Homelessness, the National Alliance to End Homelessness and ZERO TO THREE. This multi-site program is designed to serve homeless and at-risk young mothers and children with the purpose of improving the health, housing situation and development of the family. Second in a series of reports that examines the Initiative, the latest publication examines lessons learned from the two years of evaluation as well a more detailed look at the needs of the target population.
- Initiative mothers have a high rate of PTSD, depression and anxiety, not dissimilar with other studies on homeless families.
- Initiative mothers have an average of 1.5 children – less than the national average of 1.86.
- Securing permanent housing appears to be a major stabilization factor for Initiative families, allowing them to move forward with other life changes.
The entire report can be accessed here.