WIC Program Evaluation Plan for Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Other than the university researchers, many of these participants will be needed to provide statistics regarding various inputs, outputs, and outcomes of the programs.

The evaluation will consist of two distinct data collection and analysis devices. The first will be statistical data that is provided by various service programs and agencies. This data will be aggregated in the program evaluation. The second type of data will be collected from WIC recipients via a questionnaire administered by research staff. These two types of data collection will be analyzed separately and in terms of their impact on each other.

This evaluation will be divided into several phases requiring varying levels of staff, time, and resources. The following summarizes the resources, timeline and budget needed for each stage of the evaluation. Budgeted amounts on the table reflect estimated hours and salary costs for staff, as well as materials needed to complete the phase.

Phase and Task

Staff Needed

Amount Budgeted

Date of Completion

Phase I: Initial Consultation and Planning

Key WIC Personnel

Phase II: Questionnaire Design and Research

Phase III: Gathering of Statistical Impact Information

Various Entities for phone consultation and gathering statistical information from the various agencies

Phase IV: Questionnaire Administration

25 part time field personnel

Phase V: Statistical Analysis of Raw Data

Phase VI: Draft Report writing and presentation

Phase VII: Fact Checking, Editing and Revision of Draft Report

Phase VIII: Final Presentation of Report to State and Local WIC agencies

January 7, 2010

Audience

The audience who will initially receive the final presentation of this report will be state and local WIC offices. In addition to these agencies, the federal funding agencies will receive a copy. These agencies will have full legal ownership of the information contained in the report and will be able to disseminate the information as desired by them. They may use a portion of the report and the information in making funding or other determinations. They may release all of part of the report to the press or the American public. However, this is at their discretion and the evaluation will be written with WIC agents and funding agencies in mind.

III. Methodology

The evaluation will answer questions that can be broken into single data points and that require definitive answers. Much of the final evaluation report will rely on presentation of data as graphs or tables. Therefore, the research will use quantitative research methods as the primary data collection tools. The researcher may expand on the analysis in a narrative form, but the primary research methods will involve statistical data collection and analysis to answer the research questions and achieve program objectives.

Evaluation Questions

The purpose of the evaluation is to determine the appropriateness and effectiveness of the WIC program in improving outcomes for low income women, infants, and children. In order to achieve these goals, the research will focus on answering the following research questions.

Have the desired outcomes of the WIC program changed since its inception?

Does the program still produce the desired outcomes?

What is the impact, in numerical terms, of the program in reducing Medicaid costs?

How has the program affected individual recipients of the program?

What is the outcome of the program for prenatal care in pregnant women?

What is the outcome of the program in terms of reducing low birth weight and other birth defects?

What is the outcome of the program in terms of increasing rates of immunizations?

What is the outcome of the program in terms of reducing medical costs related to poor nutrition in women, infants, and children under the age of 5?

What is the outcome of the program in terms of increased cognitive functioning and school-readiness in small children?

These questions will provide interested stakeholders with an overall understanding of the situation that exists within the WIC program. It will also provide interested parties with specific information into area that need improvement. In order to measure the outcomes of the research and to assess program effectiveness, specific benchmarks and goals will be set. These benchmarks and goals will be set in cooperation with state and local WIC administrators so that they reflect realistic expectations of the agency and the federal government. Setting these specific goals and benchmarks will be part of the planning process for this evaluation.

Data Sources

Data for the project will stem from a host of sources, many of which include primary and secondary stakeholders. In many cases, stakeholders will be a source of information and data. In this study, stakeholders will be directly involved in planning, execution, and will serve as sources of data and statistics. The following table summarizes data sources for various phases of the study.

Data Type

Data Source

Data Collection Instrument

Number of Participants, Demographic information

State and local WIC office

Phone and mail requests for needed information

Impact on Medicaid costs for WIC participants, statistics on number of medical problems in women and children who are participants

Medicaid office

Phone and mail requests for needed information

Impact of WIC on the individual

Surveys administered to WIC recipients

WIC Recipient Questionnaire

Information on immunization rates

State and Local Health Departments, Hospitals, Insurance companies

Phone and mail requests for needed information

Research personnel will collect the data in the manner summarized above. Sampling techniques will vary according to the type and source of data being collected, in some cases, the agencies already track the type of data needed. A questionnaire will be administered to WIC recipients to evaluate their perceptions of the program and the services that they receive. The questionnaire will use Likert scale type questions, asking the client to rate certain types of services that they receive.

This research will involve collection of demographic information. This raises questions concerning privacy and individual rights regarding their personal information. Information will be used in aggregate and will not reflect any identifying personal information. Data collected from agencies will involve aggregate statistics that are routinely kept by these agencies. It will not be possible to identify individuals using this type of data collection method. In the case of the questionnaire, clients will be asked some demographic information, but they will be asked no information that can be used to identify them as individuals. All surveys will be identified by number only. The researcher will be responsible for making certain that there are no duplicates.

IV: Data Analysis

Data will be analyzed using descriptive statistical analyses. Likert type responses from the survey will be analyzed using frequency distribution. Results will be presented using graphs and tables that are appropriate to the data gathered. The five key university personnel will be responsible for analyzing the data and presenting it in a manner that is easy to understand for the reader.

In some cases, agencies may provide researchers with raw data. In this case, the data will have to be analyzed in order to determine the most appropriate method. In other cases, the researcher will be provided aggregate statistics from the various agencies. In these cases, the researcher will have to collect enough information from the agency to determine validity and how to interpret the data as it relates to the present evaluation.

V: Findings and Conclusions

The five key university personnel selected to participate in this research study will be the primary individuals responsible for interpretation of the results. They will work as a committee to make certain that the evaluation meets specified research goals. The study will be presented in draft form to a delegation of key stakeholders for commentary. The final report will reflect the results of that commentary. The main purpose of this process is to make certain that the final recipients of the report find it to be useful. The researchers want to make certain that evaluation answers a majority of the questions that stakeholders might have about the program.

This evaluation will benefit a number of people on many different levels. The evaluation will give WIC recipients a voice and a means to express their concerns and comments. WIC recipients will be the ones to receive the greatest direct benefit from the evaluation. They will benefit through improved services and better health outcomes from themselves and their children.

Secondary stakeholders will benefit in different ways from the evaluation. The benefit depends on the nature of the stakeholder involved. For instance, Medicaid will be able to use the results to plan their budgetary needs based on anticipated numbers of medical problems. State and local WIC agencies will benefit from findings and recommendations regarding their performance and how to improve services. They will be able to spot strengths and weaknesses in the program. Federal funding agencies will use the evaluation to add another dimension to their funding decisions. These are the key stakeholders that will derive the greatest benefit from the evaluation.

As one can see, the findings of this evaluation will be used by different people and agencies in a variety of ways. It will be used to…

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