The practice of evaluation in Australian child and family organisations
AuthorMcCoy, Alicia Anne
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2020-11-16.
© 2018 Dr. Alicia Anne McCoy
Despite reports that the demand for evaluation is at an all-time high, little is known about how child and family organisations in Australia are engaging with evaluation. Also unknown is what helps and hinders these organisations in their evaluation efforts, and how the professionals that comprise their workforce perceive evaluation. This research study surveyed 66 Chief Executive Officers, 46 internal evaluators, and 122 practitioners, to understand how child and family organisations practice evaluation, what acts as barriers and enablers to this practice, and what perceptions of evaluation are held by professionals. The study found that evaluation is understood differently by different professionals working in child and family organisations. Despite the majority of CEOs reporting clear purposes and internal motivations for their organisation’s engagement with evaluation, it was found that in some cases, the form of evaluation being undertaken and the type of data being collected may not meet that purpose. Overall, perceptions of evaluation were nevertheless mostly positive. From these findings, a critical elements framework for evaluation practice in child and family organisations has been proposed. It includes four domains: instilling a performance mindset for evaluation; assessing and communicating the purpose for evaluation; enabling the environment for evaluation; and optimising evaluation outcomes. Results of this PhD study can be used by child and family organisations across Australia to inform how they practice evaluation and how it can be used to optimise the outcomes of programs and services and, most importantly, for the beneficiaries they serve.
Keywordsevaluation; community sector; child and family organisations
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