One of the greatest challenges small NGOs engaged in child welfare work face, is that it’s hard to conduct the kind of rigorous monitoring and evaluation of our programs that help us to understand the real impact while we’re engaged in the hard work of running the program. That’s why HCW is so excited to announce that we have been selected as a recipient of one of only 5 coveted CAFO Research Center Challenge Grants. Other winners included ZOE Empowers, Agape Children’s Ministry, Refuge Zimbabwe and Kid’s Alive International.
The grant pairs each NGO with an experienced academic researcher to provide in-depth data and assessment on a promising practice within the CRC program. We are delighted to have been matched with Sarah Neville, a Ph.D. candidate and experienced researcher with Boston College’s School of Social Work. As a part of this year-long research project, Sarah will travel to the CRC to train the staff in data collection; including specific study procedures and research ethics. CRC staff will of course be able to apply these skills to future monitoring and evaluation projects. Findings will be submitted as a manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal upon completion.
The ‘promising practice’ HCW chose to have Sarah evaluate is the CRC’s Family Strengthening Workshop, which provides an opportunity for caregivers with their children, to learn how to function better as a family. Specific topics in the workshop include: emotions, self care, apologizing, routines to promote attachment, teamwork, saving, delayed gratification, anticipating unexpected expenses, identifying family strengths and values. The workshop focuses heavily on games, stories, and other action-oriented activities, and incorporates Sierra Leonean cultural materials as well as faith-based wisdom (with options to use texts from the Christian or Muslim traditions).
The hypothesis of this study is that the Family Strengthening Program program is effective at (1) changing parenting behaviors, (2) improving emotional regulation, (3) improving caregiver-child attachment, and (4) improving financial literacy. Quantitative data will be collected before and after the 2day workshops which will bring 50 caregiver/child pairs to the CRC for this training. A sample size of 100 caregiver/child pairs will provide us with the ability to randomize the study - 50 pairs will be selected to participate in the workshop, while the remaining 50 pairs will serve as a control group for the purposes of this study. Those participants not selected to participate in the workshop at this time will have an opportunity to participate in 2023.
We’re excited to embark on this learning journey with Boston College, CAFO and the CRC. We’re eager to find out - good or bad - the true impact of the CRC’s Family Strengthening Workshops on the CRC families who participate. We’re optimistic that the news will be good, but even if it’s not all good, we’ll have information we can use to improve and strengthen our practice. And if it is, we’ll be able to share the practice, and it’s impact with our donors, potential grantors, and other child welfare organizations who might be able to use it to benefit their own clients.
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