Evaluation of Programs

Overcoming Barriers recently began a collaboration with Dr. Michael Saini, Associate Professor of the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto (visit website here) to develop, implement and analyze a program evaluation of Overcoming Barriers’ programs. In the first pilot of the evaluation protocol, parents attending the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp in Vermont (July 2013) were asked to complete pre and post online surveys based on their experiences of attending the camp. In addition, the evaluation team completed individual interviews with both parents and children. The pilot evaluation also includes a six-month follow-up with each parent. It is anticipated that the pilot evaluation project will produce process and outcome data to inform interested parties about the efficiency and effectiveness of the programs in changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of participants. The pilot evaluation protocol was designed to be applicable for a range of intensive programs, including: the Overcoming Barriers Family Camp, Family Intensive, and other similar programs that will be operated by outside groups in the future. The results of the pilot evaluation will be published by the beginning of 2015.

The evaluation strategy has been developed based on the core mission and values of Overcoming Barriers in assisting families where a child is resisting contact with one parent.  Key evaluation questions have been developed to assist in monitoring and evaluating the impact of the program and expansion of services, including, but not limited to:

  • Relevance: Are Overcoming Barriers programs relevant to the stakeholders involved in family disputes (judges, lawyers, mental health professionals, children, parents, etc.)?
  • Program Implementation: How have these programs been implemented with reference to the original objectives?
  • Program Administration and Operation: Are the services offered administered and operated satisfactorily from the viewpoint of clients and stakeholders?
  • Impact: What impact have the programs had on the families and stakeholders engaged in family court matters?
  • Sustainability and Expansion: Are Overcoming Barriers programs adequately designed to support the development of new and expanding services as required?
  • Costs and Productivity: What are the costs of delivering the services and is there any evidence that the services are cost effective for families involved in family courts.

The development and implementation of the evaluation meets the urgent need to ensure that services offered to families involved in family courts are based on evidence-informed principles and guided by quality assurance for providing both efficient and effective services to help families resolve their disputes.

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