Early Childhood Program Evaluations: A Decision-Maker’s Guide
How similar are the programs, children and families in the study to those in your constituency or community?
Can you form a clear picture of the services offered and how they differ from what is currently available in your community?
Let’s say you are a businessman in Cleveland, Ohio, wanting to know whether a successful program that was evaluated in Hawaii in 1990 would work as well for your community today. Your first question should be: What kinds of children or families would receive services if the program were implemented in Cleveland? Would it be targeted toward children from low-income families? Children of immigrant parents from particular groups? Children with disabilities? The more precisely you can characterize the intended recipients of the services and how the services differ from what is currently available in your community, the easier it will be to determine the relevance of the findings of a given evaluation study. The more closely the use of services by children in the study’s comparison group matches those of children in your own community, the more relevant the study findings will be.