First 5 San Mateo: Comprehensive Evaluation | SRI International

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First 5 San Mateo: Comprehensive Evaluation

SRI is examining the program's impact and its progress toward meeting strategic goals for children age 0 to 5 and their families.

In 2008, First 5 San Mateo County (F5SMC) Commission ratified a new Strategic Plan describing its goals for a System of Care for young children and their families encompassing four focal areas: Early Learning, Family Support and Engagement, Child Health and Development, and Communication and Systems Change. The Strategic Plan also recommended an outcome-based approach for evaluating the success of F5SMC System of Care investments.

In 2009, and to meet this end, the Commission funded SRI to design and implement a comprehensive countywide evaluation based on common outcomes and indicators to enhance F5SMC's ability to track the impact of investments and progress made toward meeting strategic goals for children age 0 to 5 and their families in San Mateo County.

The project involves developing and implementing a multifaceted evaluation that will provide both detailed information about the effectiveness of key programs (i.e., in-depth program evaluation) and evidence of the impact of F5SMC investments, across all funded programs (i.e., integrated outcome evaluation). The goal of the integrated outcome evaluation is to provide a full picture of F5SMC funded strategies, their collective impact on children, families, providers, and the system of care, as well as progress toward achieving desired outcomes.

Major program investments have included workforce development for preschool and child care providers, home visitation programs, screening to identify children with special needs and link them to assessments and services, health insurance coverage, and social-emotional and behavioral support services for children, families, and providers.

Designing the outcome evaluation involves reviewing and prioritizing outcomes and indicators in F5SMC's strategic plan, identifying appropriate instruments and measurement strategies, and building the capacity of funded programs to collect evaluation data on the approximately 15,000 children, parents/guardians, and provider served each year.

The goal of the in-depth program evaluation is to supplement data gathered through the integrated outcome evaluation, provide more detailed assessment of F5SMC investments in specific programs, and identify the most effective strategies for achieving desired outcomes. The in-depth design will include techniques enabling rich descriptions of selected programs and of the linkages between participants, services, and outcomes, and will identify program successes and areas for improvement such as observations, focus groups, case studies, and the collection of individual-level standardized assessment data.

Three F5SMC funded programs will be selected to participate in the in-depth evaluation each 18 months of the project.