Evaluation in Child and Family Services: Comparative Client and Program Perspectives

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As child and family interventions assume greater international application, it will be helpful to examine the various ways in which service innovations are being evaluated. As demonstrated in the seminar from which these chapters resulted, only by sharing our specific professional interests, our too frequent problems in measurement, our despair in implementing complicated studies, and our successes can we advance the evaluation of human services and their outcomes. This volume considers a variety of programs and issues in the field of child and family services. While different perspectives are evident among the authors in terms of their focus and/or emphasis, there is common concern about the value of examining each program or service so as to maximize its impact as well as its potential for dissemination. Intervention research should spur and motivate cross-national efforts not only among researchers but also among social workers and other practitioners from diverse professions engaged in the delivery of human services. Such collaboration would contribute to the ultimate goals of achieving greater clarity about the specifics of "best practices" in child and family services, protocols for assessing outcomes, and ways of improving service delivery. How then can researchers and policymakers in diverse settings within diverse countries improve practice and service delivery on behalf of children and families? What particular program findings can be generalized to improve services? How can we share and implement new solutions? The contributions to this volume address such questions from varying international perspectives. Contributors provide answers and generate discussion points for consideration by practitioners as well as researchers. The book is a must for social work parishioners in areas involving the delivery of goods as well as services. Tiziano Vecchiato is scientific director of the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy. Anthony N. Maluccio is professor of social work at Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Cinzia Canali is research associate at the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.
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Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781412823067
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
Social Science / Anthropology / General
Social Science / Social Work
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
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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. Anthony N. Maluccio is professor of social work at Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Cinzia Canali is research associate at the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy. Tiziano Vecchiato is scientific director of the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.
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