Program implementers should engage early and often with evaluators to improve interventions
Strong, early partnerships between program implementers and evaluators can lead to innovative solutions to challenges that program implementers face. And while the primary role of evaluators is to inform implementers of whether (and how) their program is effective, engaging a program evaluator before and during implementation can improve the program, and therefore the evaluation, in unexpected ways.
For five years, Child Trends has served as the lead evaluator for three teen pregnancy prevention (TPP) programs, working closely with our program partners to find solutions to implementation- and evaluation-based challenges. In several cases, our early and flexible engagement contributed to stronger programs by ensuring successful enrollment efforts and high recruitment and retention rates.
Reducing parent opt-outs in a school-based program
Re:MIX is a school-based TPP program implemented in Austin, Texas with predominately Latinx students in grades 8 to 10. Early in our evaluation of Re:MIX, we observed a high proportion of parents who opted their students out of participating in this sex education study. We worked with our implementation partner to create a flyer highlighting key information about the Re:MIX program and study, as well as a frequently asked questions document. These documents were sent home with students in conjunction with the opt-out form, and the additional information helped proactively address parents’ questions and concerns. Child Trends also reached out directly to parents in Spanish. As a result of these efforts, the rate of parents who opted their students out of the study dropped from 16 percent in the first semester to 5 percent in the second.