Early Childhood

Early Childhood


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Session Title: Evaluating Technical Assistance for Early Childhood Systems Initiatives: Testing a Theory of Change

Panel Session 337 to be held in Panzacola H-1 on Thursday, Nov 12, 3:35 PM to 4:20 PM

Sponsored by the Systems in Evaluation TIG

Chair(s):

Joy Sotolongo,  North Carolina Partnership for Children,  jsotolongo@ncsmartstart.org

Discussant(s):

Julia Coffman,  Harvard Family Research Project,  jcoffman@evaluationexchange.org

Abstract: Smart Start's National Technical Assistance Center has provided intensive technical assistance to more than 10 states interested in creating comprehensive, community-based early childhood systems. The long-term impact of building a comprehensive early childhood system is to provide benefit for young children and those who care for young children, such as parents and early childhood professionals. Early efforts to evaluate Smart Start's National Technical Assistance Center focused on process measures, such as progress towards creating a shared vision; creating organizational infrastructure; and adopting a unified approach to advocacy. A follow-up evaluation in six states explored progress with systems building efforts and impacts on young children, families, and early childhood professionals. This session will examine the findings from the follow-up evaluation through the lens of A Framework for Evaluating Systems Initiatives, a paper authored by Julia Coffman for the BUILD Initiative, which proposes a theory of change menu for systems initiatives.

Testing the Theory Using Experiences in Six States

Joy Sotolongo,  North Carolina Partnership for Children,  jsotolongo@ncsmartstart.org

Joy Sotolongo, will present an overview of Smart Start's National Technical Assistance approach to assist state's efforts to build comprehensive, community-based early childhood systems and related early evaluation findings. Then, the proposed theory of change outlined in A Framework for Evaluating Systems Initiatives will be presented. Key findings from Smart Start's six state follow-up evaluation to learn about the impact on young children, families, and early childhood professionals will be applied to the proposed theory of change. Finally, the utility of the proposed theory of change as an evaluation framework for examining results realized by states involved with Smart Start's National Technical Assistance Center will be discussed.

Testing the Theory in South Carolina

Susan DeVenny,  South Carolina Office of First Steps,  sdevenny@scfirststeps.org

Susan DeVenny, Executive Director of South Carolina's First Steps to School Readiness, will share a brief summary of South Carolina's approach to creating and implementing a statewide comprehensive, community-based early childhood system. Ms. DeVenny will then respond to the utility of the proposed logic model from the perspective of a state leader of an early childhood initiative.

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