|Intensive interventions are more amenable to evaluation than comprehensive PAS programs.|
Crisis intervention and counseling. Evaluations of crisis intervention and counseling services are more likely than other interventions to include outcome evaluations, using either subjective ratings by parents or workers, events such as out-of-home placement, or clinical assessments. If services are offered on a flexible rather than time-limited schedule, evaluators must grapple with the problem of defining an endpoint at which outcomes are to be measured. The evaluations reviewed had widely varying study populations, ranging from 22 children and families (Medina) to 1,162 children and families (Illinois). Evaluations with very small populations will lack the statistical power needed to demonstrate significant differences in outcomes.
Information and referral services. Because of the low intensity of these services, evaluations are generally limited to descriptions of the families and children served and service utilization. Measures of client satisfaction may be the most appropriate outcome measure. Given the brief nature of the interaction, evaluations that require collecting additional information from the client (other than that collected within the information and referral request) are unlikely to be feasible. One case-study state, however, used data from its web-based case management system to document the degree to which problems identified in the information and referral service were eventually resolved.
Evaluations of comprehensive PAS programs. Evaluations of comprehensive PAS programs tend to follow the pattern of evaluations of counseling and crisis intervention by compiling data on child and family characteristics, clinical assessments, risks to adoption, service usage, client satisfaction, and case outcomes. Evaluation methods are also similar and include clinical assessments, case records, and parent feedback forms. Evaluations that attempt to assess the entire program rather than specific components will inevitably be limited in their ability to link services to outcomes. The nearly limitless combinations of amount and type of services that may be used, compounded by the diversity of adoptive families, make it difficult to unravel the threads of what services are effective for which families.