LA RED TIG Week: Evaluating Culturally-Specific Services in Latinx-Serving, Gender-Based Violence Organizations by Josephine V. Serrata & Rebecca Rodriguez

Hello, we are evaluators who work alongside Latinx-serving organizations. Josephine V. Serrata, Ph.D. is an independent evaluation consultant and licensed psychologist in Austin, Texas and Rebecca Rodriguez, Ph.D. (Atlanta, GA) is the director of research and evaluation at the National Latina Network for Healthy Families and Communities, a project of Casa de Esperanza, a nationally recognized culturally-specific community based organization. This post focuses on what we’ve learned in evaluating culturally-specific services among community-based domestic violence organizations who serve the Latinx community. We would like to share some lessons learned from a recent multi-site evaluation project.

Lesson Learned #1: A community-research partnership was key. Even though we partnered with 5 different organizations in 5 different cities, each organization was actively involved in the development of the survey instrument and the data collection process. We used the opportunity to build the evaluation capacity of each organization offering support where they felt they needed it most (e.g., providing training for community health workers on survey data collection). The sites shared with us that this partnership approach helped to shift the traditional hierarchical paradigm of evaluation by leaving them with a sense of ownership of the data and confidence that they (and not only those deemed “evaluators”) could contribute to the knowledge base on culturally-specific services in Latinx communities.

Lesson Learned #2: Adapting tools to measure cultural aspects of practice was essential. Having had the opportunity to partner with practitioners as thought partners allowed us to develop a survey instrument that reflected the specificity of offering culturally-specific services within the Latinx community. Together, we developed the Cultural Specific Practices (CSP) measure by adapting items from the Iowa Cultural Understanding Assessment-Client Form to better represent service provision within the context of domestic violence services. Then we developed items that reflected practices commonly used across all of the organizations (e.g., “Staff here understands that Latinas/Latinos/Hispanics are not all alike” and “Most of the staff are Latinas/Latinos/Hispanics”).

Lesson Learned #3: Choosing an outcome that reflected a positive construct was important. Practitioner partners stressed the importance of understanding positive growth for survivors as a more nuanced way to understand outcomes of culturally-specific interventions. Thus, we selected the Subjective Well-Being scale to measure survivors’ satisfaction with their quality of life a measure developed to capture indicators of positive change (e.g., “I take a positive attitude toward myself” and “I have a lot to be proud of”) as opposed to measures focused on the absence of mental health symptomology of survivors.

Documenting Culturally-Specific Evidence Image:

What Makes Your Work Unique image
Image courtesy of Unsplash


Example Findings of Culturally Specific Practice Items:

Culturally Specific Practices graph

Rad Resources:

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 aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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