The Importance of Program Evaluation

Victim services programs aim to give crime victims the opportunity to heal and restore balance to their lives. Over time, as this task has become more complex, programs themselves have become more complex. Increasingly, victim services programs address large problems, the solutions to which must engage large numbers of community members and organizations in a vast coalition. More often than not, these programs involve significant and difficult changes in attitudes and behavior of clients and community members.

In addition, the world in which these programs operate has become more complex. Programs that work well in some settings fail dismally in others because of the fiscal, socioeconomic, demographic, interpersonal, and inter-organizational settings in which they are planted. At the same time that programs have become more complex, the demands for accountability from policymakers, funders, and other stakeholders have increased. These changes in the environment in which victim services programs operate mean that strong program evaluation is essential now more than ever.

There is no one “right” evaluation. Rather, a host of evaluation questions may arise over the life of a program that might reasonably be asked at any point in time. Addressing these questions about program effectiveness means paying attention to documenting and measuring the implementation of the program and its success in achieving intended outcomes, and using such information to be accountable to key stakeholders.

The attached CDC manual: Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs, is a vital resource victim services programs can use to design and conduct program evaluations. This manual is a step-by-step self-taught guide that programs can use to start teaching themselves more about program evaluation.

Introduction to Program Evaluation for Public Health Programs PDF: https://www.cdc.gov/eval/guide/cdcevalmanual.pdf

Over the course of the next six months, the Research to Practice Project will be providing webinars on Program Evaluation. Additionally, our staff is available to help programs with their evaluations on a one-on-one, in-person basis. Contact our Project Coordinator, Kim Keffeler for more information or to schedule a technical assistance session: kimberly.keffeler@ucdenver.edu or 303-315-0241.

*adapted from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Office of the Director, Office of Strategy and Innovation. Introduction to program evaluation for public health programs: A self-study guide. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2011.