What is the Evaluation? Who participates? When does it take place? Why is it important?
What is the Evaluation?
Nationally, all 164 Systems of Care are required by the federal government to evaluate how well they are working and how they affect youth with social, emotional, behavioral challenges, their families, and their community. We find this out by interviewing those who know best: the youth who are involved in the System of Care and their caregivers. Participation is completely voluntary. Not everyone who is interested can participate, simply because we can’t interview everybody.
What will we find out?
During the family interviews, we will ask questions to find out the following kinds of information:
- What are the characteristics of youth who receive system of care services? (Age, ethnicity, family life, diagnosis, etc.)
- What services do families and youth receive?
- What are family and youth’s experiences with these services?
- How do these services help (or not) families and youth?
- How are services delivered, and how does service delivery change over the 6 years of funding?
- How much does it cost to serve families and youth in systems of care?
- What factors influence whether these changes in mental health services are lasting?
We will also find out answers to questions we have locally, such as:
- Are we giving the kinds of services we think we are?
- Do people in Orange County know about System of Care, what it is, and how to use it when they need it?
When will we get the answers to these questions?
- The evaluation will take place during all five remaining years of grant funding.
- We will begin to get data back on Orange County in the spring of 2010.
- We will share this information regularly with the community, so that you can better make decisions about how to design your system of care.
Why is this important?
There are several reasons why evaluation is a very important part of Orange County’s system of care (1) we won’t know the best way to build our System of Care if we don’t evaluate it. The information we get back will help Orange County know what is working and what isn’t. If something isn’t working, this information can help us to understand why and how we might fix it. And (2), we want our System of Care to last long after the grant money runs out. If we don’t have evidence to show that it is doing a good job of helping people, it will be difficult to get lawmakers and community members to continue supporting the System of Care in the future.