Hello! I’m Asma Ali, Director of Evaluation, Measurement, and Assessment at the American Society for Clinical Pathology and President of the Chicagoland Evaluation Association. Urban areas in the United States are becoming increasingly diverse. Urban development efforts, urban sprawl, and other policies in U.S. cities during the last decade have caused racial demographic shifts in areas surrounding the metropolitan core, resulting in new challenges to social service agencies in these areas. Many urban social service agencies address these challenges through an intense focus on outreach and recruitment efforts. Agencies may benefit from a deep understanding of community level changes through engagement with local members in their evaluation practice.
Evaluators play a critical role in the support of social service agencies as they engage in efforts to address the needs of diverse constituents. Evaluators can offer support in critical areas related to outreach through their evaluation plans and plans. Conducting community evaluations with Latino-serving social service agencies can better address the nuances of working with diverse and shifting urban populations when they include critical elements of culturally responsive evaluation.
Urban racial and ethnic minority program participants often wish to be engaged in programs and social service delivery efforts. Effective programs and evaluations of these programs must allow participants to access and develop their own terms of engagement. The following lessons learned support the development of an evaluation plan and implementation that addresses the needs of Latino consumers.
- Connecting with community leaders – Community leaders can help agencies become part of local networks, build personal relationships, and utilize community members in outreach efforts. Relationships with leaders in minority communities can help establish trust among community members on behalf of the agency and increase visibility. Relationships with community leaders can help spread the word about agency activities, establish new programming efforts between agencies and diversify staff perspectives about their work with Latino groups.
- Engaging actively with the community — Utilizing community events and existing Latino social-service networks can be an important part of an evaluator’s work. Many of the benefits of this work are similar to engagement with community leaders. It is important for evaluators to understand that the Latino community is diverse with many perspectives at every level. Community members can also serve as evaluation advisors or provide important community information.
- Understanding changing consumer needs – Direct engagement with Latino consumers can help program staff to better understand and serve the unique needs of these consumers. Culturally- responsive evaluation methodologies and utilization focused evaluation methods can help evaluations and programs address Latino participants’ needs.
- Culturally appropriate evaluation materials– Evaluators should make sure that their work reflects the appropriate language and messages for their Latino participants. Multiple communication venues –word of mouth, printed flyers, radio, and print—are important to “get the word out” among Latino program participants.
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Latina/o Responsive Evaluation Discourse TIG Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from LA RED Topical Interest Group members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.