SCEA Week: Bill Shennum & Kate LaVelle on the Multiple Uses of Multiple Data Sources

Greetings. We are Bill Shennum and Kate LaVelle, staff members in the Research Department at Five Acres, a nonprofit child and family services agency located in Altadena, CA and serving the greater Los Angeles area. We work as internal evaluators to support outcome measurement and continuous quality improvement within the organization.

In our roles as internal evaluators we work with agency staff to develop data collection for key processes and outcomes, and assist staff in developing program improvement goals/activities. The quantitative and qualitative data included in our internal evaluation reports also supports other administrative functions including grant-writing, accreditation and program development.

Lessons Learned: In the course of this work we find it useful to incorporate data from our two primary funders, the Los Angeles County Departments of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Mental Health (DMH). We use these data for a variety of purposes, such as to compare our agency’s outcomes to other service providers in LA County, establish benchmarks for child and program outcomes, and provide information on trends in the child welfare field to inform program development. Both DCFS and DMH make extensive statistical information available to the public on their websites.

Rad Resources:

1.       Los Angeles County DCFS ( provides clickable fact sheets on their “About Us” tab, covering everything from demographics and maltreatment statistics to placement trends and foster care resources. The site has many other reports including Wraparound performance summaries and individual group home compliance reports.

2.       Los Angeles County DMH ( also makes statistical information of interest to evaluators available through its Program Support Bureau. The “Data Reports and Maps” link accesses countywide and area–specific demographic and performance data for child and adult mental health, including geographic information system mapping of mental health resources.

Southern California evaluators who work in child welfare and/or mental health will find much information of interest on the above sites. More outcomes and reports are added every year, so check back often.


Hot Tip: For those of you visiting Anaheim for the 2011 American Evaluation Association conference and interested in going to the beach, check out the surf at Huntington Beach pier in nearby Huntington Beach, about 10 miles from the headquarters hotel for the conference. This is centerpiece of Southern California’s original “Surf City.” It is a perfect place to take a break from the conference and check out the local beach scene.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating this week with our colleagues at the Southern California Evaluation Association (SCEA), an AEA affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SCEA 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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