NUMBER 123 • 4 OCTOBER 2002 • EVALUATING OUTCOME
INDEX OF QUOTES
Defining progress in or success after treatment has occupied group child care throughout recent history in part because the definition adopted requires that one take a position regarding such complex questions as:
Is the client the child or the family?
To what extent are treatment goals the same for all children or families?
How much progress is required for a child to be labeled a success (or failure) in care?
To what extent does group child care claim responsibility for growth and development of children, as contrasted with amelioration of presenting problems?
If child development is a desired outcome, is it acceptable to compare the developmental status of children treated in care with children who have had more stable lives?
At what point in the child’s group care and life experience should success be determined, and how should the child’s variability in functioning be interpreted?
Who determines success, and how can differing views of a child’s functioning be reconciled?
How can we disentangle the effects of treatment from the effects of growing up?
As difficult as these questions are, they can be addressed, though the assessment is rarely accorded the time and attention it deserves before evaluating outcomes. A critical first step is to examine pertinent questions within the context of the children’s situations at intake, the agency’s mission, the agency’s control over intake, the type of treatment program, the aftercare provided, and the situations to which children are discharged. This last assessment is especially important and will serve as a corrective to what Koocher and Broskowski [1977: 584] call the single-input fallacy—"the belief that a single service or treatment, in isolation from others, is sufficient to restore a multi-problem child or family to an effective level of functioning."
KATHLEEN WELLS and JAMES WHITTAKER
Wells, K. and Whittaker, J. (1989) Integrating research and agency-based practice: Approaches, problems and possibilities. In Balcerzak, E. Group care of children: Transitions toward the year 2000. Washington: Child Welfare League of America, pp.351-365
Koocher, G. and Broskowski, A. (1977) Issues in the evaluation of mental health services for children. Professional Psychology 8: 583-592