The Program Being Evaluated
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded eight childhood obesity prevention programs through the national Injury Free Coalition for Kids (IFCK) program, a hospital-based, community-oriented injury prevention program. The purpose of funding these obesity prevention programs within IFCK sites was to test innovative approaches to increasing access to healthy foods through programs that already promoted physical activity.
About the Evaluation
The IFCK sites were awarded up to $60,000 each for 18 months. They were asked to build on their existing partnerships to focus on environmental approaches to increase access to healthy foods, integrate the promotion of healthy eating with efforts to increase physical activity, and begin to address policy concerns.
The Foundation contracted with the OMG Center for Collaborative Learning to conduct an evaluability assessment of each of the eight programs to assess their early implementation phase and the programs’ capacity to support a formal evaluation. The lead evaluator was Victoria J. Dougherty, of OMG. The assessment was conducted over an eight-month period through document reviews, in-person interviews and program observations. The findings are based on the sites’ status at the time of the visits, which occurred midway through the grant period.
Major Evaluative Topics and Questions
One of the main purposes of OMG’s study was to gain an early sense of the capacity of the childhood obesity prevention grantees to support a more in-depth evaluation of their pilots should they show promise as potential best practices in the field. An evaluability assessment can assist the Foundation in identifying promising approaches that deserve further attention. This project was, in part, a pilot test of the Foundation's proposed initiative for Early Assessment of Environmental Interventions for Childhood Obesity, and would provide critical information for the structure of the initiative.
Summary of Methods
The assessment identified eight promising program strategies across the eight grantees. The criteria used to make these determinations are: 1) potential for impact, based on logic of the design; 2) potential for impact, based on program intensity and duration; 3) innovativeness of approach(es); 4) ability to reach the target population; 5) acceptability to stakeholders; 6) feasibility of implementation; 7) potential for replication; and 8) sustainability.
Knowledge and Impact
All IFCK sites were able to implement their pilot projects. Sites varied in terms of capacity for further evaluation.
- The Injury Free sites lent resources and credibility to the obesity prevention programs. However, the obesity prevention work was not as easily integrated with the Injury Free work as foreseen in the initiative design.
- An overly ambitious set of goals for the pilots compromised the capacity of staff to deliver work of consistent quality and intensity across the multiple areas of focus.
- Most of the grantees would be ready for some summative evaluation of their core work, once they had refined their programs further and improved their data collection tools, where needed.
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