Evaluating domestic violence support service programs: Waste of time, necessary evil, or opportunity for growth?



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More and more funders of non-profit organizations are mandating that grantees engage in outcome evaluation. Given that this mandate is rarely accompanied by additional funding to devote to such efforts, as well as the limited skills many staff have in conducting outcome evaluation, this has been a significant hardship for human service programs. Domestic violence victim service programs have additional barriers to evaluating service effectiveness, including: (1) each survivor1 comes to the program with different needs and life circumstances; (2) there is debate about which ‘outcomes’ are appropriate for these programs to accomplish; (3) many service clients are anonymous or engage in very short-term services; and (4) surveying survivors can compromise their safety or comfort. Some programs, therefore, resist evaluating their services (which can compromise their funding) while others engage in evaluations that can compromise their integrity or values. Others, however, see outcome evaluation as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Evidence is provided that, if done appropriately and sensitively, outcome evaluation can be incorporated into ongoing staff activities, can provide evidence for program effectiveness, and can improve services for survivors of intimate partner abuse.

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Last updated on 11/15/2015