How To Do It:
Program Evaluation is Important and Necessary for Several Reasons:
  • An evaluation will determine the program’s effectiveness
  • An evaluation will give you a starting point to make future changes to the program
  • An evaluation will help you determine whether or not this program met the need you set out to address
  • Evaluation results can be used to leverage future funding
Evaluation should be of both the group(s) outcomes and the effectiveness of the partnership.

This is where all of that information you have been documenting will be particularly helpful. If you have gone through all of the steps outlined in this tool kit you should be able to evaluate your program effectively!

Example Evaluations:
1. Parent Pre-Test
2. Family Satisfaction Survey
3. Staff Satisfaction Survey

How Port Discovery and PACT Achieved Success:
Staff from both organizations used the following methods to evaluate the program
  1. A parent pre-test with questions such as the child’s ability to communicate with adults using words, the child’s ability to communicate likes and dislikes, etc.
  2. A family satisfaction survey that addressed the program quality and staff knowledge but also included questions that related to the specific goals that were set for each group.
  3. A staff satisfaction survey that addressed the interaction between both organizations’ staff and the opportunity for staff growth in working with families with special needs. The inclusion of open-ended questions provided staff the opportunity to voice their opinions on the programs strengths and areas for improvement.
  4. Other evaluation measures we used included an observational assessment of museum staff’s skill development over the course of the 10 week group. These were completed by the PACT therapy staff.Items measured included comfort level working with children with special needs, ability to help foster independence for the children, understanding of the children’s unique behaviors and needs (such as sensory sensitivity and increased processing time), etc. Surveys were developed based on the general goals that were established at the beginning of the group.
  5. Weekly post-session debriefings between PACT and Museum staff gave both organizations the opportunity to discuss successes and challenges while planning for the upcoming week. This proved to be a great tool for increasing communication between both organizations.
  6. Additionally, because our overall goal was to help families generalize skills learned during the group for carryover in their daily lives, we did complete a follow up phone survey three months after completion of the group to see if the children and families were better able to participate in community settings. View Template


Conclusion:

By April 2009, the program had blossomed into a unique model for offering services in a “playful” community-oriented environment outside of the traditional therapy setting. Through the individual group assessments, observations, and weekly documentation, parent and staff feedback was collected and analyzed. A debriefing meeting between the partners following the final group sessions openly addressed points for improvement and future directions while celebrating the success of this unique partnership.

There is only one thing any good partnership can be positive of: as years pass, change should and will occur. Many factors shift over time; staff, community needs, funding streams, resources, etc. As described in this toolkit, the trick to making the most out of a partnership is to learn from each other and always be examining ways to take newfound knowledge to the next step.

With this in mind, here are several ways we have benefited through our partnership and thoughts for the future:

For PACT, the partnership:
  • Opened our eyes to the wide variety of real life settings where occupational, physical and speech therapy can take place
  • Expanded therapists’ awareness about the effectiveness in providing therapy in non-traditional settings

For Port Discovery, the partnership:
  • Helped us to embrace Universal Design in all that we do as an institution: exhibits, programs, planning committees, and more
  • Alerted us to the fact that our organization is useful and important to a much wider audience

For both PACT and Port Discovery:
  • Increased our ability to think creatively about other avenues for funding and collaboration