Using participatory methods to develop and implement an evaluation for the Raising St. Louis Early Childhood Initiative

Using participatory methods to develop and implement an evaluation for the raising St. Louis Early Childhood Initiative research poster

Raising St. Louis (RSTL) connects with mothers, fathers and other family members to help build and sustain the family unit, reduces the high infant mortality rate, promotes literacy and increases access to health care.

In 2013, RSTL partnered with Washington University’s Center for Public Health Systems Science (CPHSS) as an external evaluation partner. RSTL and CPHSS, using extensive input from internal and external stakeholders, designed a mixed methods evaluation that used a participatory approach to engages stakeholders in discussions and decision-making.

Lessons learned about the RSTL evaluation include the following:

  • Involvement of stakeholders in the development of an evaluation plan increased overall support for the program and ensured the inclusion of multiple perspectives and priorities.
  • There is a benefit to having internal evaluation capacity as well as partnering with external evaluators.
  • To increase accessibility of data and findings, employ multiple approaches to disseminate information which are tailored to each audience.

Examples in our evaluation plan include:

  • An annual “dashboard report”: A concise, graphic heavy report that focuses on high-level outputs and outcomes and is intended for RSTL Board Members and partners.
  • Summaries and briefs: Targeted written summaries of findings from certain data sources (e.g., participant survey or focus group summaries) for RSTL staff, Board Members, and partners.
  • Comprehensive evaluation report: These annual reports include key findings and recommendations utilizing all evaluation data sources and are intended for internal and external audiences.
  • Marketing materials: Brochures describing the program’s benefits, and service region. These materials are intended for potential participants.
Developed in October 2016 for Raising St. Louis by Nikole Lobb Dougherty.

For more information about Raising St. Louis, click here.