What is program evaluation?

Everyone is an evaluator. You evaluate things informally everyday — you decide what you like from what you don’t like. Sometimes, you share your opinions with others. In some cases, you ask your friends for their opinions. Then you make decisions based on these evaluations.

Programs like Project Kealahou have specific goals. One of our goals is to evaluate the project. We want to know how the project is helping girls and their families. The project can only accomplish this by conducting a program evaluation. But what is program evaluation? According to Patton (1997), program evaluation is “the systematic collection of information about the activities, characteristics, and outcomes of programs to make judgments about the program, improve program effectiveness, and/or inform decisions about future programming.”

If you (or your child) are enrolled in Project Kealahou, you may be eligible to participate in the National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families program. Participation in this evaluation may help us determine how Project Kealahou is helping you, your family, and others in your community. A member of the evaluation team will contact you to talk in more detail about the study, answer your questions, and invite you to participate.

What is the national evaluation?

The national evaluation provides information about program achievements, child and family outcomes, and mental health service needs. Since 1993, the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program (Child Mental Health Initiative) has supported 173 grant communities across the nation. It is the largest federally funded child mental health services initiative. Over $1.49 billion has supported systems of care to provide better mental health services to children and their families. Every funded system of care community, including Project Kealahou, is required to participate in the national evaluation. If you (or your child) are enrolled in Project Kealahou, you may be eligible to participate.

Why is the national evaluation important?

How is Project Kealahou helping girls? How is the project helping families? What works to support girls? What works to support families? The national evaluation answers these kinds of important questions.

Who makes the national evaluation successful?

Programs like Project Kealahou across the nation have worked hard to develop plans for data collection and reporting. This work is supported through the collaboration of system of care partners, such as state departments of health. Most importantly, family and youth voice is key to evaluation! Family and youth voice is important in sharing what works from what does not work.

What questions does the national evaluation answer?

Additionally, the national evaluation examines important topics such as cultural and linguistic competence, evidence-based practice, family involvement and support, and provider knowledge and practice.

Where are the data reported?

National evaluation findings are available in several publications, including an annual report to Congress, Evaluation Updates and Data Profile Reports.