Elizabeth Harris on A Measure of Youth Resiliency

Greetings colleagues!  I am Elizabeth Harris, Ph.D., Vice President of Evaluation, Management and Training Associates, Inc. (EMT).  The focus of this blog is a free resource for measuring youth resiliency that we developed out of necessity.  For over 25 years, we have focused our evaluation, technical assistance, and training work on the prevention of substance abuse and other behavioral health needs; on policies and programs promoting the positive social-emotional and behavioral development of children and youth; on family service needs; and on related fields of public health.

The evaluation of youth initiatives represents a critical aspect of our work.  Unfortunately, as we sought to evaluate one of the largest national federally-funded youth initiatives, available instruments reflected the prevailing thinking that the only aspects worth measuring were attitudes of despair and hopelessness and illegal and risky behaviors.   Available measures did not reflect the reality of programmatic objectives at the local level, many of whom provided activities grounded in youth development theory, seeking to strengthen existing assets.

Resource:  In order to honor the evaluation tradition of measuring what programs actually intend to impact, we developed an instrument of youth resiliency, the Individual Protective Factors Index (IPFI).  The IPFI is a 71-item questionnaire which provides a single measure that captures the various protective factors that have been identified as contributing to individual resiliency in youth between the ages of 10-16 years who may be at risk for developing substance use and other problems. For the national study, we combined the IPFI with federal GPRA measures in order to also measure the risky behaviors and attitudes that were required by the funding agency.

The instrument has been used extensively and is the product of extensive conceptual development and empirical testing, including norming and validation studies on 2,416 youth in 15 states nationwide.

The IPFI is available free of charge to our colleagues and can be downloaded at http://www.emt.org/ipfi.html.  A Spanish language version is also available.  Our only request is that you share the results of your evaluation with us.

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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