At the start of the Research to Practice Project, our team developed a Readiness and Needs Assessment that was distributed to victim services agencies, organizations, and programs throughout the state of Colorado. This assessment was conducted in an effort to determine what programs were currently doing as well as how victim services providers, advocates, and practitioners were being trained on, program evaluation and evidence based practices. The assessment was sent via email to the project’s email distribution list and to the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s (CCASA) listserv. The Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance (COVA) and the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) included a link to the assessment in their May 2017 newsletters.
Respondents were asked a series of demographic style questions to get a better sense of which organizations were responding to the assessment and what type of victims they serve. 28% of respondents indicated they work in a rural community. Respondents were fairly equally split from across the regions of the state, as anticipated nearly half (43%) were from the Denver metro area; 24% of respondents were from the Western Slope, 18% were from Southeastern Colorado, and 14% were from Northeastern Colorado.
Additionally, 80% of respondents work in a community based organization.The types of victims served by participating organizations varied (See the chart provided below). Victimization specified by respondents choosing “Other” included: stalking, homicide, commercial sex work, and all crime victims.
Questions Regarding Program Evaluation
Assessment results indicate that 33% of respondents have no experience designing and conducting a program evaluation (see chart below). Additionally, 30% of respondents did not receive any training on program evaluation at their current organization, and 30% receive training on program evaluation at conferences or professional development opportunities. Of the respondents who indicated that their organization is currently conducting or has conducted a program evaluation, client satisfaction was the primary type of program evaluation (46%). The most common uses of evaluation results are program improvement (31.58%) and organizational reports (26%). The majority of respondents use hard copy surveys (44%). When asked who within their organization is invested in program evaluation, respondents’ written-in responses primarily included executive director, director, SART coordinator, and grant writer.
Questions Regarding Evidence Based Practices
Results show that many respondents (52%) have a moderate amount of experience finding and interpreting new research pertaining to their work (see chart below). For the most part, respondents are receiving that information through the Colorado state victim services coalitions (CCADV, COVA, and CCASA) and through internet searching.
When it came to how respondents were trained on evidence based practices, ongoing staff trainings (34%) and conferences or professional development opportunities (34%) tied for most common answer. When asked who within their organization is invested in evidence based practices, respondents’ written-in responses primarily included executive director, everyone, SART coordinator, and therapists.
Respondents were asked to name any evidence based practices their program may be using or had used in the past. Responses included: trauma informed care, trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, Quality Victim Services: A Field Guide by David L. Voth, empowerment theory, motivational interviewing, and seeking safety & healing trauma. When respondents were asked an open-ended question about challenges around training staff on evidence based practices, respondents indicated they had financial and time restrictions that limited their ability to use evidence based practices, as well as access issues. A few respondents also shared that finding truly evidence based practices and research in domestic violence work is difficult and often doesn’t directly apply to all organizations or communities. In addition, due to the nature of domestic violence, often the number of responses or study participants in DV studies is relatively low compared to traditional medical studies- which decreases the buy-in from leadership This can therefore decrease a program’s ability to change a practice or start something new.
Using the Results
Over the course of the project, staff have been using the preliminary data to inform decisions about programming, newsletters, web content, and developing trainings. Now that the data are finalized, the information can be used to fully inform how the project will function moving forward. Respondents were able to suggest in-person training opportunities and webinar topics, and project staff are using these suggestions to plan forthcoming training sessions!