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The Planning Never Ends…

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By Safa Sajadi, on June 29, 2010

The planning just like the fun never ends at program evaluation!

For the past few weeks I have been fortunate to see the planning phases for two Program Evaluation (PED) projects. Now that the planning stages are almost over, I have understood firsthand how important they are for the successful completion of the projects.

The two projects I have been working on include the following: an Inventory of Programs for Children and the Administrative Functions of County Departments of Social Services.  Because one is an inventory of programs and the other involves the possible consolidation of services their planning phases were quite different.

Here is how they differed

  • Inventory of Program for Children:

The Inventory of Programs for Children project really involves some groundbreaking work.  Currently, the state of North Carolina has not compiled a database or report that showcases state or federally funded programs that directly benefit children, youth or their families. Some agencies have compiled discipline specific data like mental health programs, but to date there is not a comprehensive list.  In fact most states have not even attempted this endeavor.

Understanding the rationale behind this project was an integral component of its planning. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with Senator Richard Stevens.  Senator Stevens, who sits on the Joint Legislative Program Evaluation Oversight Committee and the Committee on Education/Higher Education, was surprised to hear that no one had gathered this information; he also stressed the importance of the PED finalized report for the state.  Interestingly most of the planning for this report also involved not only understanding its rationale, but also defining the project parameters.  Defining project parameters is a huge task! It really defines what the project will be about and how one will gather the relevant data.  These parameters were encapsulated in the following document.

  • Administrative Function of County Departments of Social Services:

The Administrative Function of County Departments of Social Services project has been defined as a possible consolidation/merger project.  The planning for this project involved understanding the current social services framework for the state. This framework consists of the state supervising the county administration of social services. North Carolina is one of a handful of states that has this framework.

Through my ‘team meetings’ I have quickly understood that the planning for this project included understanding the framework, identifying major stakeholders, and isolating the types of data that will be necessary.  A ‘mixed’ data approach, which includes surveys, focus groups, interviews, queries, and site visits, has been suggested.

The “entrance conference” was scheduled yesterday! This conference will be very exciting because the evaluation plan will be discussed and proposed to all the major stakeholders.

Look out for it! Next weeks blog will be all about the entrance conference!

*The views expressed on this blog posting are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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