Research and Evaluation Projects

The NRC conducts research and evaluation in the areas of child welfare, early childhood and family support, public health, human services workforce, disparities, and community development utilizing a strengths-based and culturally competent approach. For summaries of our previous evaluation projects by topical area, please click on the links in the table below. 

Child Welfare Early Childhood and Family Support Public Health
Human Services Workforce Disparities Community Development

 

Child Welfare

Connecting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care to Centers for Working Families at Community Colleges Evaluation

Youth aging out of the foster care system are at a particular risk of facing barriers to completing a post-secondary course of study.  In an effort to increase retention and promote employment and financial stability among these individuals, the project connects youth involved with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative to Centers for Working Families (CWF) sites based at two community colleges. The evaluation of this program uses counselor-input data such as strong connections to workforce development, asset building/financial education, and access to income supports to determine retention rates between intervention and control groups.  The results of the project will be used to make recommendations for the program.

Organizational Effectiveness Training and Technical Assistance Evaluation Program

One of Iowa’s largest child welfare service providers is Children & Families of Iowa (CFI), a multi-program private non-profit with programs for providing mental health and child welfare services. CFI works with the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice to conduct performance monitoring and evaluation.  Goals and indicators were developed using a participatory model involving the Board of Directors, program managers, and program participants. Quarterly results assist program staff in their efforts to strengthen practice, improve programs, and demonstrate outcomes to funding sources, the Board of Directors, and other community stakeholders.

Supportive Housing and Child Welfare Evaluation

Partners United for Supportive Housing in Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR) is one of five projects in the country which, under a grant from the U.S. Children’s Bureau, aims to develop, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based service approach to supporting homeless families who are also involved with child welfare services.  Key goals include attaining housing stability, preventing out-of-home placement, and facilitating reunification between children in foster care and their families. The implementation and outcome evaluation utilizes data derived from a randomized experiment to determine the effectiveness of the project.  The study will provide recommendations for strengthening child welfare services with homeless families.  

Evaluation of Iowa's Title IV-E Waiver for Subsidized Guardianship 

This project assessed the implementation, outcomes, and cost-effectiveness of Iowa's subsidized guardianship program.  Youth meeting the eligibility criteria based on age and permanency status were randomly assigned to an experimental group that had the option of subsidized guardianship or a control group that did not have this option. The research methods include individual interviews and focus groups with DHS workers, youth and their families and/or caregivers, and the courts; data analysis from SACWIS and other databases suggested by the evaluation team; and surveys of key stakeholders.  Results were used to improve the subsidized guardianship process throughout the state.

Early Childhood and Family Support

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV) Evaluation

Prenatal and early childhood home visiting is a widely-supported method for delivering a vast array of preventive and early intervention services to families in need of support.  The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program supports pregnant women and families by utilizing evidence-based, voluntary home visitation models to teach parents to prevent child abuse and neglect, encourage positive parenting, and promote child development and school readiness. The evaluation of the program tracks support to pregnant women and families and the help that parents of children from birth to age 5 receive from the program.  Results will improve the program’s home visitation services throughout the state so that children are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) Evaluation

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health) is a federal program which aims to promote the health and well-being of Iowa's youngest children from birth to age eight by increasing coordination of child-serving systems, building infrastructure, and improving methods for providing services for children within seven zip-codes of inner-city Des Moines where the poverty level is nearly four times that of the city as a whole.  The evaluation of Iowa Project LAUNCH utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods to track improvement in family functioning, health and access to resources, improved delivery of services, and coordination and collaboration of councils. The evaluation will improve the delivery and coordination of program services to more effectively meet the needs of children and families. 

Family Support Statewide Database (FSSD) Evaluation

The Family Support Family Data Collection Project serves both children and families within various counties throughout the state of Iowa.  This Project is used as a supplemental assessment tool for Family home visitors as well as for state and federal agencies that support the project through funding and oversight.  The primary purpose of this project is to improve child and family outcomes through evidence based early childhood intervention programs. These reports explore relationships between basic demographic variables including marital status, race, and income, as well as how these demographic variables might be related to child and parent outcomes. 

Quality Improvement for Early Care, Health and Education Programs: Benton County Kindergarten Readiness

Benton County, Iowa undertook an effort to gather information on early childhood literacy skills and social emotional development to better understand the relationship between preschool programming and kindergarten readiness.  BCE intended to identify strengths and needed improvements for kindergarten readiness. BCE collected information and assistance in analyzing the data was provided by the NRC. The study measured early literacy skills, social emotional development, kindergarten test scores and the relationship between these measures.  

Evaluation of the Broward County Family Success Center Family Dev. Program

The focus of the evaluation was to document processes and measure effectiveness of the family development model as it has been implemented in Broward County, Florida. The report provides outcomes of strategies employed by staff and families, the process by which outcomes were achieved and understanding of how the model has worked, where it may be refined, and what lessons have been learned that can inform replication in other Centers.  A second focus of the evaluation was to measure and make recommendations for improving community collaboration to reduce fragmentation and foster a more coordinated, comprehensive service delivery system enhancing program effectiveness. The interpretation of these data provided insight into process and outcomes of the program and provided summative evaluation and information relevant for the purposes of program replication and improvement.

Network Guide to Measuring Family Development Outcomes

The NRC, in collaboration with the Iowa Community Action Association and the State Division of Community Action Agencies was involved in the design and implementation of Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA).  The Network Guide documents a variety of exemplary approaches for collecting and analyzing results and linking services to family development and stability outcomes, and describes how these approaches work. The NRC built off of previous experience with developing and implementing outcome measures through work on the AAFP, the California Family Development Matrix model and other outcome measures systems (e.g., Life Skills Progression).  Lessons learned were provided for identification, implementation, use, reporting and improvement of outcomes of family development and self-sufficiency programs.

 

Evaluation of the Healthy Start Cooperative Agreement

Healthy Start sought to improve health outcomes for infants and mothers in a targeted high-risk area in the city of Des Moines. Healthy Start implemented three primary components: case management, service facilitation (through transportation, childcare, and translation services), and consortium development. The evaluation by the NRC included tracking of key performance indicators over time, analysis of case specific data, consumer satisfaction, network analysis of interagency collaboration, and cost analysis. Results were used to illuminate the cost effectiveness of the program to allow program administrators to make informed decisions about the program.

Public Health

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center Follow-Up Project Evaluation

The Crisis Center Follow-Up project promoted follow up contact with thousands of Americans who call crisis centers across the country each year and encouraged continuity of care, coordination of services, and collaborations between emergency departments and other health care providers. The evaluation of the program addressed processes and outcomes to ensure that the project’s goals were met in practice. 

Lifelong Links Quality Assurance and Improvement Evaluation

The Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) LifeLong Links resource provides information and one-on-one person-centered counseling to people of all ages, incomes, and disabilities. The evaluation measured the current processes of quality measurement for LifeLong Links programs throughout the state.  The goal of the evaluation was to assess current processes and develop standardized quality assurance and improvement guidelines in accordance with draft national quality framework for Aging and Disability Resource Centers.  Results were used for quality assurance and improvement for the program.

Professional & Home Care Aide Statewide Training Program (PHCAST) Curriculum Evaluation

The Professional & Home Care Aide Statewide Training Program (PHCAST) provides new and continuing education to direct care professionals providing assistance to Iowans with a goal of developing core competencies, certifying direct care professionals, and increasing retention.  The Iowa Center for Evaluation and Research is conducting an ongoing project evaluation of PHCAST by monitoring workforce changes including satisfaction, retention, and turnover.  ICER will also conduct assessments to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum.  The results will help determine the effectiveness of the training curriculum in affecting the job satisfaction and retention of direct care professionals in this field.  

Iowa Comprehensive Cancer Control Program Evaluation

To reduce the impact of a variety of cancers on Iowa residents, the Iowa Comprehensive Cancer Control Program (CCCP) combines community resources across the state to prevent cancer, identify it in its earliest stages, improve accessibility and quality of cancer treatments, and enhance quality of life for those impacted by cancer.  The IDPH-CCCP is in year-three of a five year grant, with the NRC conducting an evaluation each year of the program.  The 2014 evaluation focuses on CCCP program goals and utilizes data from radon tests, clinical trials, body: soul, and mammography tests across the state. This evaluation report is intended to inform and update the Iowa Department of Public Health Comprehensive Cancer Control Program administration and staff and coordinated cancer programs about the progress of the Comprehensive Cancer Control Program. 

Colorectal Cancer Prevention Program - Iowa Get Screened Yearly Evaluation

The Iowa Cancer Registry reports that colorectal cancer affects 47.3 Iowans per 100,000 (age adjusted).  To reduce the risk of this cancer across the state, the Iowa Get Screened program provides funding to hospitals, Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers and Public Health Departments across Iowa to provide colorectal cancer screening and awareness to Iowans age 50-64 who meet certain criteria.  The NRC conducts an annual evaluation of the program to assess the completion of intended outcomes including increasing screening, improving patient support services, and strengthening partnerships. The evaluation also contains recommendations that can be used to make program adjustments.

Chronic Disease Partnership (1305) Evaluation

The purpose of the Chronic Disease Partnership is to support implementation of cross-cutting strategies to prevent and control chronic diseases and promote health.  It does so through four chronic disease prevention programs – diabetes; heart disease and stroke; nutrition, physical activity and obesity; and school health. ICER staff, in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health evaluation staff, are conducting a blended evaluation and providing capacity building services to chronic disease staff at IDPH throughout the duration of this five-year grant. Annual evaluation reports inform program stakeholders and improve service delivery.

Iowa Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program (FLEX)

The Iowa FLEX Program is intended to preserve access to health care services, improve quality of rural health services, and foster a rural health delivery system that is both efficient and effective.  ICER evaluates the FLEX program on an annual basis to ensure program improvement. Part of the evaluation is the completion of a needs assessment which assessed quality improvement, financial performance, community engagement and other needs. ICER staff also conducted interviews with stakeholders and Critical Access Hospital Quality Improvement staff about the Iowa FLEX program. 

Evaluation of Iowa's Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Programs

The Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program was designed to prevent first (and subsequent) pregnancies and to serve adolescents who have already become parents.  The program’s collaborative community approach was evaluated by the NRC.  Results highlight the community aspects of the program followed by outcome information about the effectiveness of individual grantee programs.  Results serve as a model of creative approaches for reaching out to youth and parents to prevent teen pregnancy. 

Evaluation of Iowa CareGivers Association's Certified Nurse Assistant Mentor Training Project

Certified Nurse Assistants, Home Care Aides, Patient Care Technicians, and other direct care/support workers deliver 80-90% of care in Iowa’s nursing facilities.  The Iowa CareGivers Association implemented the CNA Mentoring Program to further address the needs of veteran CNAs and those just entering the field.  This evaluation examines the effectiveness of the Iowa CareGivers Association CNA Mentoring Program specifically as a means of worker retention. The NRC conducted surveys assessing skills learned, mentor/mentee relationships, pay increases, and worker retention, with results used to advise the program.  

Evaluation of the Clinton Substance Abuse Council Drug Free Communities Initiative

Substance abuse is often related to increased violence and delinquency and decreased family functioning.  The Clinton Substance Abuse Council Drug Free Communities initiative aimed to reduce substance abuse among youth and strengthen collaboration between community organizations.  The NRC conducted a process evaluation which focused on organizational development throughout the project and among relevant community members, examining how decisions were made to select or adapt programs and services.  The results of a collaboration survey, social network analysis, and outcomes evaluation were provided to council partners to aid in future collaboration-building activities.   

Human Services Workforce

Family Support Workforce Study

A statewide study of Iowa’s family support workforce is currently underway which seeks to gain a greater understanding of the family support workforce and its organizational contexts, to assess changes in the workforce and the impact of supervision training, and to measure the relationship between workforce issues and family support outcomes.  The overall goal of the study is to strengthen the workforce and improve the quality of family support services.  Research utilizes survey data from family support providers in direct service, supervisory, and administrative roles across the state to create a profile of the state workforce. 

Disparities

DMC Resource Center & Minority Youth and Families Initiative

Nationally, minority juveniles in secure detention are greatly over-represented compared to their proportion in the general population. In Iowa, a third of youth held in juvenile detention facilities are minority even though they make up only eight percent of the state's youth population. The DMC Resource Center worked statewide with communities to address issues related to the high rate of minority confinement and contact, including community involvement, developing local youth programs, and assisting in the collection and analysis of DMC related data. In 2004 the DMC Resource Center also began work on over-representation in the child welfare system.

Community Development

Evaluation of the Impact of Home Energy Assistance Services

People Working Cooperatively (PWC) in Cincinnati provides professional home weatherization services to low-income homeowners in two states, assisting elderly or disabled homeowners with energy-efficient measures which help them save money and ultimately remain in their homes. The NRC conducted an evaluation of the impact of home energy assistance services to determine the relative benefits of three services, including whole house with energy assistance, whole house without energy assistance, and energy assistance only.  The evaluation team analyzed data gathered from interviews, participant quotes, and family development scores to determine the effects of PWC services on the population served. Effects of PWC services were measured for housing and home condition, mobility and accessibility, energy security, financial benefits, ability to care for children, improved health and safety, stress reduction and increased community involvement.

Clinton Community School District (CCSD) Elementary School Counselor Program

Clinton Community School District’s Systems of Care Network represented an innovative approach for piloting systemic change in elementary school counseling programs. The project was designed to meet the needs of all elementary students and their families along a continuum of need. The NRCFCP conducted the evaluation of the project which measured changes in the individual, social and academic development of all students in the district including test scores, the Systems Inventory social/emotional assessment profile, and outcomes such as attitudes about school.  Results were shared with project staff to improve services. 

Iowa Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration Project 

The Iowa Compassion Capital Fund Demonstration project was intended to build the capacity of Iowa faith-based organizations (FBOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) seeking to better serve Iowans in need. The project was a part of a federal initiative in response to an executive order from the President of the United States to strengthen the capacity of FBOs/CBOs (FBCOs) in order to better address the needs of America’s local communities. The program evaluation focused on the extent to which the project enhanced and expanded the knowledge base of Iowa’s small, grassroots FBCOs, provided sub-grant awards to FBCOs through an open competitive RFP; provided a system of training and technical assistance (T/TA) in the areas of leadership development, organizational development, programs and services, funding, and community engagement; and encouraged and facilitated replication with developing grassroots FBCOs. 

Broadway Neighborhood Revitalization Project 

The NRC collaborated with the Neighborhood Centers of Johnson County to conduct a community assessment and produce a community development plan for the Broadway Street Neighborhood, a neighborhood commonly known for being the most persistently poor neighborhood in Iowa City, Iowa. The assessment supported a process that brought together residents, business owners, property owners and community institutions (schools, police, city, etc.) to build consensus around common goals for the neighborhood and formulated and implemented a collective work plan. The community assessment was conducted to identify neighborhood resources, priorities and needs. Recommendations were provided that helped the residents and entities implement a second phase of community development.

Social Network Analysis of Collaboration among Service Network Providers for the Iowa Strengthening Communities – Youth (SCY) Project

This project assessed the Iowa SCY system of care network of agencies and the effect that the startup of the SCY project had on the relationships within the network of service providers. The purpose of the network analysis was to measure change in the network of provider agencies.  Agencies participated in both collaboration and social network analysis surveys with results analyzed to demonstrate types and strength of relationships. Results were used to assess the level of achievement of two of the six SCY goals, including developing linking and networking mechanisms and implementing outreach activities.

Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Program

Healthy Relationships Iowa (HRI) is a program in collaboration with the Administration for Children and Families and Mathematica Policy Research serving residents of Iowa, Illinois and Missouri through workshops on healthy marriage and relationship education. Workshops are held in Des Moines, Ottumwa, Keokuk, Fort Madison, Burlington, Muscatine and Davenport. These workshops offer instruction and coaching for couples who are dating, engaged or married, individuals who are single or single-again, and individuals who desire healthy relationships with employers, coworkers, and family & friends. Experienced HRI personnel help participants solve common relationship challenges such as: communication, conflict, verbal abuse, falling out of love, and rebuilding trust. They provide proven methods of teaching and training that have achieved dramatic success in creating relational breakthroughs for work and home.