Discussion: Assessing Outcomes
How do you determine the “success” of a human services program? Part of your role as an administrator is to collaborate with your staff to determine how a particular program’s effectiveness will be measured. The outcomes must be clear, realistic, and feasible, and how the outcomes will be assessed must be clear also.
For this Discussion, you will address the “Social Work Research: Program Evaluation” case study in Social Work Case Studies: Foundation Year. Assume the role of an administrator in the case study to evaluate what has occurred in the program and how you might improve it.
By Day 3
Post an evaluation of the success of the CALWORKS program based on the information presented in the case study. Be sure to define what success would be for the program and how you, as an administrator of the program, might evaluate whether success has been achieved. Finally, make one recommendation for improving the program’s effectiveness.
Support your post with specific references to the resources. Be sure to provide full APA citations for your references.
By Day 5
Read a selection of your colleagues’ posts.
Respond to at least two colleagues in at least one of the following ways:
- Explain whether you agree with your colleague’s definition of success and method for evaluating success, and why.
- Critique your colleague’s recommendation for improving the program’s effectiveness.
Post an evaluation of the success of the CALWORKS program based on the information presented in the case study. Be sure to define what success would be for the program and how you, as an administrator of the program, might evaluate whether success has been achieved.
The state of California developed a new program called CalWORKs which stands for California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids program. The purpose of developing this new program was in response to a law that was to address reducing states to reduce welfare dependency among its citizens. CalWORKs was the solution for California in addressing this socio-economic issue. What helped to make this successful for some of the counties is that in San Francisco options were provided for participants in creating job readiness plans, providing remedial education for those who may be lacking in the area of basic skills, and providing vocational training at the local community colleges. Once a participant was to complete a program, they were rewarded with financial compensation among other benefits. Those who did not complete the program were found to be non-complaint and had a reduction in their benefits.
In the first 11 years of the program, the number of the participants who were found to be in the lower economic bracket and receiving federal benefits were reduced by nearly 40% by completing the program successfully. The case study indicates that the most beneficial group were those who participated in education and training programs.
While this can be seen as a success, later on from years 2007-2011 there was a national economic downfall and the amount of those on public assistance nearly doubled from the previous successful time period. The downfall could be attributed to poor economic conditions, and the state’s budget crisis. Despite the setback, there was still a large number of those who were able to benefit from the program which ultimately helped the state’s budget. As an administrator, I would measure the amount of success by the number of participants that were able to get out from under the public assistance system. I would have to look at the budget versus how many participants were able to be helped within that period of time. I would also look at the recidivism rate meaning what percent of participants were able to to complete the program and how many of them had to come back using public assistance. For some people, they cannot help if they get laid off from a job and they lose their income. If they showed poor work performance and they were let go due to unsatisfactory job performance, that is the fault of the client. I would take that specific example and view it as that the programs did provide the most effective tools for that client for them to be successful.
Finally, make one recommendation for improving the program’s effectiveness.
I have a few recommendations for how the programs could be more effective. If I had to pick one if would be that mental heath and supportive services also be included in the program. They are providing education and training support services but as we all know, going through something new can be quite overwhelming. Having supportive mental health services available to the participants and their family during this journey could provide the necessary supportive therapy to aide in the success of not only the client but for the success of the CalWORKs program itself.
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocksen, S. M. (Eds.). (2014c). Social work case studies: Foundation year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing [Vital Source e-reader].
“Social Work Research: Program Evaluation” (pp. 66–68)
Colleague 2: Shelia
The CalWORKs program is a program based on services to meet a stated outcomes (reduction in poverty) intended for low impoverished income population, who depended on public assistance. In the state of California many changes were made to the programs and the state gave the counties discretion on how they implemented those funds allocated for the program. This was an effort to reduce public assistance expenses, (Plummer, Makris, & Brocken, 2014c).
In their efforts the changes that were implemented worked to benefited most of the participants, although everyone was not successful. Success would be to completely eliminate the program, but that is something that is not foreseeable in the near future. The impact of the incentives has done a remarkable job at training, educating, job readiness, and cutting back on the amount of people servicing, but at what degree it is influenced by other factors that contributes to the environment of that outcome. Evaluating the success of the program has been established. How the program effectiveness is accomplished would be something I would be interested in. As a matter of fact, how it relates to the level by which the activity of the program produces the direct effect on the participants. It is not mandatory, but when mandatory, the CalWORKs program can be effective for a diverse population and focus on the participants who are job ready, have a consistent influence on a program effectiveness. But through consistence modification, programs can and do become effective. “The goal of evaluation in child welfare often go beyond assessing the outcomes for the one program and aim to improve child welfare practice”, (Lawrence, Strolin-Golzman, Caringi, Claiborne, McCarthy, Butts, & O’Connell (2013).
Because this program is based on the involvement of its participants, those who are able bodies should be required to follow policies and procedures in order to continue receiving benefits. Challenges will be great, but assessment should be done on an individual bases and done routinely and frequently. According to the article by Lawrence, et al. (2013), “One important area of this accountability is the need for program evaluations that meet the needs of the social work manager in child welfare organizations. Ideally, evaluations should be able to 1) promote organizational growth and learning, and 2) contribute to an evidence base for child welfare practice with the best science available”. The service to children and families will, as I mentioned earlier, impact the outcome of the program and its participants.
Evidence-based practice rely on these efforts because it effects the financial assistance allowed to families in need. Due to high volume of participants and sometime resources within community improvement cannot be established. Also, the complications of diversity in family unit, challenges, there will be concerns for welfare reform. The approach mentioned above, according to Lawrence et al. (2013), is a “road map to high-quality child welfare services must include useful evaluation practices”. The goal of CalWORKs is to promote families to become self-sufficient and not depend on federal assistance. The programs they have provided are effective and working. The policies should be upgraded to achieve higher standards of the participants. With that being said, there should not be a trend of household members living on public assistance as a means of survival. There should be a deadline for all recipients unless there is a physical or mental health issue. This is not just for implementation to participants, but to everyone who may become involved in the process for childcare reform.
Lawrence, C., Strolin-Golzman, J., Caringi, J., Claiborne, N., McCarthy, M., Butts, E., &
O’Connell, K. (2013). Designing evaluations in child welfare organizations: An approach
for administrators. Administration in Social Work, 37(1), 3-13
Plummer, S.-B., Makris, S., & Brocken, S. M. (Eds). (2014c). Social work case studies:
Foundation year. Baltimore, MD: Laureate International Universities Publishing [Vital
“Social Work Research: Program Evaluation” (pp. 66-68)