Research Program Description:
Our work in the evaluation research area focuses on scholarship about evaluation research as well as conducting evaluation studies. Our scholarship about evaluation research has examined threats to external validity in community-based research (Tebes, Snow, & Arthur, 1992; Tebes, Snow, Ayers, & Arthur, 1996) and cultural influences (Tebes, 2001; Evans, Delphin, Simmons, Omar, & Tebes, 2005; Tebes, 2010). In other methodological publications, we have introduced various innovations in community research, including the term panel accretion to describe participants who are added to a panel study after a prevention trial begins (Tebes, Snow, Ayers, & Arthur, 1996); a convergence index to depict the similarity of sibling risk within families (Tebes, Connell et al., 2005); a new system-level approach to assessing service access within a system of care (Tebes, Bowler, et al., 2005), and using social network analysis to understand the complex nature of systems of care (Friedman, Reynolds, Call, Quan, Crusto & Kaufman, 2007). We have also sought to help define the emerging field of community science so as to inform current research practice (Tebes, 2005).
Our work emphasizes theoretical and methodological pluralism and the corresponding use of mixed methods and interdisciplinary approaches in community-based research and evaluation (Crusto, Lowell, Paulcin, Reynolds, Feinn, Friedman & Kaufman, 2008; Kaufman, Crusto, et al., 2006; Crusto, Ross, & Kaufman, 2006; Tebes, Kaufman, Connell, 2003; Tebes, Kaufman, Connell, Crusto, & Thai, 2013; Tebes & Kraemer, 1991; Tebes, 2000; Tebes, 2005; Tebes, 2010; Tebes, 2012). Our team employs rigorous analytic methods appropriate for the complex nature of community-based evaluation research (Connell, 2012; Tebes, 2012; Tebes, Kaufman, et al., 2003; Tebes, Kaufman, et al., 2013).
Our community based evaluations emphasize the use of a stakeholder-based, participatory approach to the development, implementation, and evaluation of programs and services. This work falls under the broad category of community-based participatory research, and seeks to involve health care and service providers, recipients of service and family members, state agency personnel, and community members in the design of programs and services, and in their evaluation. Thus, for example, it is not uncommon for parents, as family members of children served within a system of care, to be hired as service coordinators or research assistants in our evaluations or for community members to be trained in all aspects of focus group methodology including developing protocols, conducting groups, analyzing data and feeding information back to stakeholders. In addition, by involving key community stakeholders in the design and evaluation of a program or service, we have found that subsequent evaluation results are more likely to lead to meaningful service improvements, program changes, and system reform.
We have conducted, or are currently carrying out, large-scale evaluations in collaboration with the Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth, and Families; the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services; the Connecticut Department of Children and Families; the Connecticut Department of Public Health; the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services; the Rhode Island Office of Human Services; the City of Philadelphia Office of Mural Arts Programs; the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services; the City of Bridgeport Public Schools; and a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union; the Connecticut Health and Development Institute; the Scattergood Foundation; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and the Rhode Island Foundation.
Our evaluations have included a variety of target populations and sought to address various social conditions. We have worked with state agency personnel, family members, youth at risk for poor outcomes, children and adolescents with serious emotional and behavioral disorders, young children exposed to violence, individuals and families experiencing homelessness, persons in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction, youth involved in child protection and child welfare services, and youth involved in the juvenile corrections system. The focus of our work has been on system of care reform; prevention and health promotion; service access for children, adolescents, or adults; school-based interventions for children and youth; community integration of adults with serious mental illness; extended day and after school programs for youth; and neighborhood blight and revitalization.