The information reported in this chapter was drawn from administrative data collected by the OMI. PSI uses a web-based management information system for recording information about workshop leaders, participants, and the number of workshops. Workshop records are designed to include:
- Workshop leader information. Basic information about workshop leaders, such as name, address, and occupation, is collected by PSI staff at the time leaders apply for training. Updates are made by PSI staff or by workshop leaders either when they use the system to record information on workshops, or when they contact PSI for technical assistance. In addition to ongoing technical assistance provided by PSI, an annual telephone survey serves to confirm and update information about leaders and their productivity.
- Data on completed workshops. During their initial training, workshop leaders are instructed in the use of the web-based system, and asked to later enter information about workshops they plan to conduct or have completed. Some leaders prefer to mail this information in to PSI, whose staff enter the data. Information entered includes the leaders role (as coach, co-leader, or leader) and the number of participants who have completed the workshop. Participants are considered to have completed a workshop when they have attended at least 70 percent of the time.
- Participant characteristics. In 2003, the OMI created a short form to ask participants for basic demographic information, such as age, race/ethnicity, education, and marital status. Trained workshop leaders are asked to have each participant complete a form for submission to the OMI. Completion of the form is not mandatory for participation, but the OMI strongly encourages workshop leaders to use and submit these forms.
The use of a voluntary network for providing and reporting on services presents special challenges in recording data. Since many workshop leaders donate their personal time to deliver workshops, and institutional settings may lack administrative staff for this task, the OMI has little leverage to require consistent reporting. To correct the potential errors or omissions in the data, the OMI conducts an annual telephone survey of workshop leaders. Interviewers strive to confirm the accuracy of information on the number of workshops completed and the number of participants. Therefore, these data are considered to be relatively complete and reliable.
Information that participants provide about themselves, however, is collected on a far less consistent basis, and cannot be confirmed through follow-up surveys. Due to concerns about privacy, respondents do not provide their full names or contact information. A comparison of the number of participants reported by workshop leaders with the number of forms completed by participants indicates that very large numbers of participants do not respond to the form. Among those forms that are turned in, significant amounts of missing data are apparent. As a result, there is substantial inconsistency in the rate at which these data are collected and recorded, limiting the extent to which they are representative of the people who participate in OMI workshops. For this reason, and because of recent data loss issues, we do not report on these characteristics.
A limitation of several tables in this chapter is the lack of detailed information about workshops delivered through high school classes. Although an estimated 62,500 students have taken an OMI-sponsored workshop at their high schools, the OMI does not collect information about the number of workshops/classes the teachers have conducted or about which parts of the state these classes have been offered in. Workshop leaders the teachers are not required to report information directly to the OMI about the workshops they have completed or the number of students enrolled in their classes. Instead, the OMI estimates the number of students participating from the number of Connections-PREP® workbooks that teachers order each year. Consequently, tables in this chapter show OMIs reported totals for participating students and teachers, but without breakouts for the number of workshops by leaders, by year, or by region.
The OMI participation reported in this chapter focuses on activities conducted by the OMIs volunteer leaders within the community and public sectors. It therefore excludes the OMIs Family Expectations program for expectant parents, begun in 2006. Family Expectations, part of two national evaluations of programs for married and unmarried couples having a child together, is centered on a structured series of workshops for formally enrolled participants, led by paid PSI staff, and open only to a particular target population. Thus, Family Expectations represents a different service delivery model, and participation in it, although recorded in a separate MIS, is not discussed in this report (for more information on the implementation of Family Expectations, see Dion et al. 2008).