CP TIG Week: The Stories our Communities Tell: How Evaluations Can Promote Equity and Parity in Access to Service Provision by Martha Hernandez-Martinez & Lumarie Orozco

Martha Hernandez-Martinez
Martha Hernandez-Martinez

Hello everyone! We are Martha Hernandez-Martinez, MPA & Lumarie Orozco, MA,  community psychologists currently working at Casa de Esperanza, a national advocacy organization on domestic violence focusing on Latino communities. Through the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities (NLN), Casa de Esperanza’s national clearinghouse for policy, training, and research, we provide training and technical assistance to build the capacity of those interested in better serving Latino communities and to support the work of Latino culturally specific (CS) organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs).

Lumarie Orozco
Lumarie Orozco

Evaluations can provide the guidance and information necessary for individuals, communities, and organizations to assess needs, identify gaps and inform the development of any enhancements or changes that need to occur within any given project, program, initiative or within any given organization, agency, or structure intentionally and thoughtfully.

For underserved communities that continuously experience deficits, lack of services or limited access and opportunities, evaluation can aid transformation and opportunity. A critical strategy is the development of indicators that reflect the lived realities and conditions faced by those most affected by the issue at hand. Indicators that promote equity must be uncomplicated, relatable, and easy to comprehend, explain, and be used by community members. They must be able to track and adapt information and identify any authentic and effective progress that has been achieved, specially by those who are the most impacted.

An example would be evaluating language access provisions that increase access to services for limited English proficient immigrant women who experience intimate partner violence. Shifting our lens from quantifying how many received language interpretation services, to a more equitable evaluation approach that focuses on the impact that meaningful language access provision has on parity in accessing services critical to safety, well- being and health and the impact that it has had on these women and their communities. The evaluation should tell the story of how well organizations and communities are serving and enacting their values, and the impact that this level of intentionality has on individuals and communities, instead of relying solely on fulfilling funder requirements by quantifying or reaching a set number/percentage. It is only then, that we can really experience what it means to put an equitable evaluation into practice.

Leaders, members, and community-based organizations can help to develop and design evaluations that are centered and informed by community.  Some specific guidelines and principles produced by indigenous communities and other culturally and linguistically specific communities are:

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