A contract from the Community Action Commission has supported Jill Sharkey and her research group from UC Santa Barbara’s Gevirtz School to provide evaluation training to youth serving programs supported by the South Coast Task Force on Youth Safety. On June 19th, Dr. Sharkey and the Sharkey Tank (students from the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology) provided the first training to 45 South Coast providers. In preparation for this training, UCSB has been working with the Service Provider Network to assess program evaluation needs and what capacity currently exists amongst various providers. This initial input was used in designing the three-hour training.
“It is a deep honor to be working with the South Coast Task Force on Youth Safety to bring research and program evaluation skills to the community,” Sharkey says. “The response has been incredible; there are so many wonderful people working to enrich the lives of children in Santa Barbara and eager to increase their capacity to use data to document and improve their practice. What I look forward to most is working with the community to develop innovative evaluation strategies based on the expertise of the professionals we will be working with.”
In 2015, the Strategy Team drafted the Mission 2020 report that captured feedback on priority work for the Task Force. Community members and stakeholders emphasized the importance of having programs use evidence based or evidence informed services that include data and outcomes. Because not all programs have the opportunity to increase program evaluation capacity, the Task Force felt it was critical to leverage resources and provide this kind of training in the community.
The feedback gathered after the meeting showed that this kind of training is of great benefit to the community. Next steps include a Program Evaluation Request for Proposals, which will provide direct mentoring on program evaluation to three organizations to be selected in August.
The South Coast Task Force on Youth Safety is a regional partnership that includes the County of Santa Barbara, and the cities of Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Carpinteria. It also includes elected officials, local government agencies and executives, law enforcement, education, faith community, philanthropic and community-based organizations, youth and parents. The role of the Task Force is to convene community stakeholders to address issues on youth safety and prevent violence in the South Coast.