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How can developmental evaluation be used to develop and adapt social service programs?



3 April 2024

Our Manager of Evaluation and Social Impact, Sandra Opoku, welcomed the opportunity to join an Australian Institute of Family Studies webinar on the benefits of developmental evaluation for social service programs.

Contrary to traditional forms of evaluation, developmental evaluation uses a learn as you go approach, allowing services working in complex environments to evaluate projects or programs while they’re happening.

‘As the name suggests, you use [developmental evaluation] when things are in development or when they’re emerging, the model or intervention is not clear yet or is rapidly changing. It’s not [a] summative evaluation of a specific intervention,’ Mrs. Opoku said.

As such, developmental evaluation was appropriate when, as a result of COVID-19 and the resulting rapidly changing landscape, Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) encountered challenges in using existing evaluation approaches. RAV introduced developmental evaluation to assess our men’s behaviour change programs (MBCPs) during the pandemic, and we continue to use this approach as appropriate to evaluate other programs.

'Using developmental evaluation to adapt programs to online delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a good example of how evaluation can support innovation and adaption in social services,’ Mrs. Opoku said.

Watch the webinar to find out how our organisation was able to develop and evaluate programs during this period of significant uncertainty and change, and why we’ve continued to incorporate developmental evaluation into our programs and projects moving forward.

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