CERCA provides services to address the broad range of evaluation needs an agency or organization may encounter. After extensive experience and collaborations with social service and public health agencies across the public and private sectors, CERCA has developed a standardized format to uniformly present and assess the evaluation needs of most organizations. The categories included in this standardized format emerged from the variety of needs that CERCA has addressed with past clientele. The categories for program evaluation needs that CERCA addresses are as follows:
- Design Needs Evaluation design encompasses those elements required for any focused or comprehensive evaluation plan. Consideration of evaluation design needs addresses those decisions necessary to be considered when planning and conducting an evaluation. Design needs refer to such requirements as the development of logic models which illustrate theoretical relationships between program inputs, activities, outputs, and objectives, the development of measurement instruments (e.g., surveys & interview protocols), developing research questions, and determining evaluation methodology and analyses. More specifically, design needs also address programmatic functions such as developing evaluation plans, contract development, and strategic planning.
- Monitoring Needs Monitoring is an essential component of any evaluation practice. Monitoring represents the on-going activity of tracking program progress against planned objectives and goals. Effective monitoring systems, however simple or sophisticated, facilitate regular oversight of program implementation and provide data to determine if progress is being made toward achieving objectives. Monitoring needs refer to those systems and practices that must be maintained or developed to track the implementation and/or progress of programs and their components. These same tasks related to monitoring also apply to programmatic needs to track contract deliverables.
- Reporting Needs Reporting needs refer to those requirements that an organization may have in response to state and federal authorities to report on progress towards achieving objectives. Examples include: Interim and Annual reports to the CDC, reports to state legislative and executive branches, and reports to private foundations.
- Technical Assistance & Consultation In order to ensure the appropriate and accurate implementation of programs and respective monitoring and evaluation systems, the expertise of evaluation researchers may occasionally be required by organizations and program staff. Technical assistance and consultation refer to any need a program may have that requires the expertise of program evaluators to do such things as reviewing, editing, advising, planning, facilitating, training, or strategizing on evaluation-related activities.
- Implementation & Management Implementation needs refer to any needs a program may have for evaluation researchers to actually conduct an evaluation study or components of a study. Implementation practices include, but are not limited to data collection, quantitative and qualitative analysis, and report writing. Evaluation management needs refer to any oversight of external evaluation contracts required by program staff, with specific focus on the timely submission of contract deliverables.
- Dissemination In order to contribute to bodies of knowledge regarding best, promising, and emerging practices to promote health and address chronic diseases, in addition to increasing the public profile of an agency or organization by highlighting successes and challenges, the expertise of evaluation researchers may need to be utilized by program staff. Dissemination occurs in a variety of formats such as in conference presentations and posters, journal articles, published reports, and participation/representation in professional organizations, workgroups, committees, etc.