Here we describe in more detail the four key steps used to estimate the total costs of WtW programs:
- Defining WtW Interventions. We defined WtW interventions as all activities conducted and services delivered to participants directly by WtW program staff. We also included services that other agencies provided to WtW participants (as in-kind contributions, through referrals, or on a fee-for-service basis) when such services were an integral feature of the programs.
- Establishing Cost Analysis Periods. We measured costs for a single year of program operations instead of for the duration of the WtW programs. The cost analysis year varied by program; in most cases, it ran from January 2000 to December 2000 or from July 2000 to June 2001.(1) These were relatively stable periods in program operations, when the programs most closely resembled ongoing ones.(2) Aiming for as much overlap as possible in the cost analysis years for individual programs enhanced their overall comparability because they were subject to similar grant regulations and national economic conditions.
- Identifying WtW Resources. Before collecting and analyzing cost information, we reviewed site visit summaries and other evaluation documents to learn more about the WtW programs. We refined our understanding of these programs through telephone conversations with program staff. In addition, members of the cost analysis team participated in process analysis visits to a few programs. This information helped us define the interventions and identify the types of resources used to support the programs.(3) We then worked with program staff to obtain budget, staff utilization, and expenditure data for the cost analysis period.
- Determining Market Value. In general, the costs recorded in the accounting systems of the WtW program operators reflected true costs. When the timing of expenditures and the utilization of resources differed, or when resources were not obtained in the open marketplace (for example, when services were donated), we made adjustments to include all resources used in actual program operations for the analysis period.