System of Care Initiative: Building Creative Partnerships – Involving Families in Program Evaluation

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Between 1993 and 2011, Allegheny County Department of Human Services received three SAMHSA grants to implement systems of care designed to support youth with serious emotional disturbances who were involved in multiple child-serving systems. Evaluation was a critical piece of these grants, which prioritized family empowerment and inclusion.  In keeping with this priority, and its values, DHS involved families in evaluation in three ways: 1) family members were hired as evaluation staff; 2) family members served on evaluation committees; and 3) family members were provided training and technical assistance opportunities regarding training.  This report describes the experience, its challenges and rewards, and makes recommendations about ways to increase the success of such involvement by family members.

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