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Assessing Outcomes in Child and Family Services: Comparative Design and Policy Issues

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Overview

In this collective portrait, editors and authors do not attempt to draw systematic, country-by-country comparisons. Given the magnitude of the issues, they believed that it would be inappropriate to paint with too broad a stroke. What they have accomplished, however, is to codify and identify what the participants repeatedly noted in regard to issues and difficulties inherent in conducting outcome evaluation. These include: varying definitions of outcome; complexities in measuring outcomes of particular interventions with different groups of consumers and documenting the effectiveness of the intervention; the tendency to focus on evaluation of process more than outcome; the challenge of involving practitioners in the evaluation task, in part because its value is unclear to them or perceived as distant or untrustworthy; the typical inadequacy of resources available for systematic evaluation; and the need to inject rigor into the design and execution of evaluation projects. The authors demonstrate strong conviction about sharing research expertise across national boundaries; learning through each other how to cope with organizational impediments to cross-national collaboration; and strengthening the interaction between practice and research. Their contributions suggest that there is wide interest in pursuing cross-national collaboration. In recent years, largely in response to demands by their funding sources for accountability, assessment of performance, and cost effectiveness, researchers in human services have been devoting increased attention to outcome evaluation. Limited attention, however, has been given to the findings of evaluation studies conducted in different countries. The present volume has been organized and edited to address the task of learning from outcome research across the world. Its goal, an extension of a major goal of the human services in any one country, is to improve life chances of vulnerable children and youth.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Cinzia Canali is research associate at the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.

Tiziano Vecchiato is scientific director of the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.

Anthony N. Maluccio recently retired from Boston College where he was professor of social work. He is also professor emeritus of the University of Connecticut, where he taught social work for over twenty-five years. He conducted many research projects on topics such as adoption, permanency planning, and family foster care. His authored and co-authored books include Permanency Planning for Children: Concepts and Methods; Social Work Practice with Families and Children; and Evaluation in Child and Family Services: Comparative Client and Program Perspectives.

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Table of Contents

Contributors
Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Outcome-Based Evaluation: Cross-National Perspectives 1
1 Current Initiatives in the Development of Outcome-Based Evaluation of Children's Services 6
2 The Black Box: Accounting for Program Inputs When Assessing Outcomes 19
3 The Evaluation of "Community Building": Measuring the Social Effects of Community-Based Practice 28
4 Outcome-Based Evaluation of National Health and Social Programs 48
5 Nonexperimental Methods of Evaluating Social Programs: Applications for Child and Family Services 61
6 An Intervention to Reduce Smoking Habits through Counseling from the General Practitioner 70
7 Improving Mental Health Care for Children and Adolescents: Strategies and Lessons 84
8 Evaluating Social and Health Services with Children, Adults, and Elderly Persons 99
9 Outcomes Are Dependent on Inputs: Does Risk Assessment Inform Service Delivery? 107
10 A Learning-Organization Approach to Evaluation 127
11 Outcome Studies in the Context of Organizational Inertia and Political Ideology 141
12 Family Service Centers: Lessons From National and Local Evaluations 153
Author Index 174
Subject Index 177
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