The fieldwork has officially begun!
On Monday June 28, 2010, the Program Evaluation Division (PED) held the official entrance conference for the Administrative Functions of County Departments of Social Services project! The meeting consisted of a “who’s who” of various governmental agencies, many of which were representatives from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Initially the meeting reminded me of a topic discussed in Dr. Berner’s PUBA 720 Methods for Policy Analysis and Evaluation course. As a class we discussed the importance of meeting with your ‘client” or “stakeholder’ before fieldwork begins so that you discuss the evaluation plan. Data sources and what you perceive as possible recommendations can also be mentioned. A key disclaimer to this process is that these meetings can go a number of different ways. The ‘client or stakeholder’ can object to the evaluation plan all together, recommend various changes, suggest areas for additional evaluation, and serve as a collaborative member of the team.
It was exciting to see a ‘collaborative member of the team’ feel at the entrance conference. Those in attendance were fully informed, ready to offer suggestions, and already had much of the data needed. PED staff members Carol Shaw, Sean Hamel and Pam Taylor can be credited with ensuring that the client was kept in the loop before the official entrance conference was held.
It was obvious that this pre-planning made the difference!
Discussing the evaluation plan with the attendees was so helpful! In case you didn’t know this…the evaluation plan is kind of a big deal. Evaluation plans provide the direction and framework for the project. Among the many things PED excels at (as an unbiased party- of course) is putting together the evaluation plan. You can view some of these evaluation plans by re-visiting some of the project reports.
Back to the Entrance Conference…
It was especially interesting to see HHS Representatives offer suggestions on other viable options for focus groups, the importance of data sources, and recommendations for data analysis. Stressing the importance of the appropriate and/or needed data can never be said too much. HHS representatives stressed the importance of the ‘right’ data for the success of the project.
Focus group suggestions will also be helpful especially now that the ‘planning phase’ has ended. In a week or so we will begin fieldwork! Agency queries and focus group questions have been drafted, are in the process of being finalized, and will be administered shortly. Fieldwork is the phase I am the most excited about, because it gives PED an opportunity to be out in the ‘field’. I believe this will enable the team to really see, hear, and understand what this project is all about!