To best serve the needs of fathers, you must ask: what is our program doing well? Where can it improve? What services are benefiting fathers and their families most? This type of reflection makes up the foundation of program evaluation. Program evaluation is an essential component of every fatherhood program. Beyond being required by most funders, it is a way to ensure your daily activities, staff, and investments are contributing to the realization of your mission.
We provide various links to resources with tips and guides for understanding and implementing efficient program evaluation plans for new programs and for experienced program evaluators. Wherever you are in the learning process, these resources will help you improve your program evaluation and outcome measurement practices.
Tips & Best Practices
- Learn of effective evaluation resources. This guide, created by the Office for Family Assistance (OFA), introduces the concept of program evaluation, gives an overview of the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, and provides a detailed discussion on how to conduct outcome and project evaluations and more.
- Understand tips for conducting good evaluations and common mistakes. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) Evaluation Working Groups' web page addresses this information. It also links to evaluation development tools, podcasts, and more.
- Learn of key concepts for increasing capacity and conducting effective outcome measurements. The "Measuring Outcomes" section of the Intermediary Development series summarizes the purpose of measuring program outcomes, lists technical terms commonly used to refer to program evaluation, and guides you through the process of planning outcome measurements from beginning to end.
This guide is the first of two focused on building evaluation capacity. It covers evaluation design, including identification and operationalization of program goals, building of logic models, and indicator setting. This guide also covers the selection of indicators to be measured and appropriate measures for these indicators. It begins with the identification of program goals. Subsequent sections discuss the construction of logic models and the evaluation approach, including the generation of evaluation questions, the setting of indicators, and the integration of evaluation questions and indicators. It concludes with a discussion of measurement strategies: the selection of appropriate measures for different indicators and the role of demographic variables.
What is program evaluation?
Program evaluation refers to the process of examining how well your program is doing. You can learn more about this process through any of the links we provide in the Tips and Best Practices Section.
How does program evaluation help the fathers I serve?
Beyond being a requirement for most funders, program evaluation tells you what you are doing well and what you can improve on. With the information you collect you can determine which activities are best serving fathers and which you may need to change in order to best meet their needs.
Where should I get started?
Think about the “why” and the “what” around program evaluation. Why do you want to evaluate your program? What information are you seeking from your evaluation? Perhaps you want to test the effectiveness of a new program component or whether program goals were met. You may want to start with a theory of change or logic model, both of which can help you conceptualize your evaluation plan to identify your objectives, metrics, as well as short-and-long term outcomes you desire.