Evaluation Update

Over the past year, the UC Evaluation Team put considerable effort into planning and revising FAST TRAC’s data collection efforts in order to improve the consistency and the quality of the data.  In the fall, the team met with each program and when necessary, made appropriate changes to several instruments.  Priorities for Year 5 of the grant were determined by each program. The UC Evaluation Team agreed to take on the publication of two distinct but related series of quarterly Evaluation Briefs focused on each local program: one geared toward legislators and other professionals and one geared towards families and other community members. The first “Family Brief” focused on School-based Mental Health Services is now available (click here to view the Family Brief).    The “Provider Brief” focused on the Wraparound Program is currently under development and will be presented to the Evaluation Workgroup during our February 2014 meeting. We anticipate that a final version of this Brief will be ready for dissemination by mid-March.

One noteworthy evaluation activity occurred in November, when the evaluation team partnered with Clermont County Juvenile Court’s Probation Department to gather juvenile records of over 300 FAST TRAC participants.  Basic information for each youth was collected to determine the number of days in detention and on probation before and after enrolling in FAST TRAC. These data will help determine the impact FAST TRAC has had on the costs of services to the county. The Transition to Independence (TIP) program staff is also very interested in the juvenile data and we are exploring ways to obtain permission from TIP participants to access adult correctional records.

Another noteworthy evaluation activity last quarter was the pilot testing of the “Ouch! That Stereotype Hurts” cultural competency workshop, including a three month follow-up assessment of participant attitudes, knowledge, and skills. The follow-up assessment had a 75% response rate with 93 % of the respondents stating they have used the skills they learned in the workshop either at home (51%) or at work or at a social function (36%).

The National Evaluation was also fortunate to recruit three new Family Interviewers in mid-2013 to assist with data collection. The three additions to the team are parents of special needs youth who have been involved with the system of care in Clermont County.  Their experiences and enthusiasm has resulted in acquiring 60% of potential follow-up interviews which provides valuable information on changes in family and youth dynamics over time. Since the inception of the National Evaluation in February 2011, 170 families have been enrolled in the study.  The goals related to the National Evaluation will be to continue to actively seek the engagement and participation of families in the study as well as manage the data collected in an effective manner so that all available information is utilized.

At the close of 2013, the UC Evaluation team had a lot to celebrate beyond the typical holiday season.  Two presentation proposals were accepted for the 27th Annual Children’s Mental Health Research and Policy Conference, in Tampa FL March 2 – 5, 2014.  Jonathan Sutter will be presenting information about the recent transition to the WFI-EZ and the benefits of using tablet technology to collect this information.  Rachel Smith will be presenting findings from a methodological study based on FAST TRAC longitudinal data that describe youth, caregiver, and family-level factors that place caregivers of youth with behavioral health challenges at risk for study attrition.

From your UC Evaluation Team, have a safe and happy New Year!