Abstract: Engaging Youth in a Coach-like Way - Findings and Lessons Learned from the Formative Evaluation of Colorado's Pathways Intervention (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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Engaging Youth in a Coach-like Way - Findings and Lessons Learned from the Formative Evaluation of Colorado's Pathways Intervention

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Lanae Davis, MPA, Senior Research Associate, The Center for Policy Research, Denver, CO
Background and Purpose: Colorado’s Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division received funding under YARH to design, implement, and test a model intervention to prevent homelessness among youth aging out of the foster care system, this program is called Pathways to Success (Pathways). In this panel, Colorado’s evaluator from Center for Policy Research (CPR) will begin with a presentation that describes the Pathways intervention. The Pathways model is built around Navigators, who engage youth in a coach-like way to develop and achieve goals and provide services. Youth direct the intervention, while Navigators deploy an array of individualized services tailored to each youth’s needs and strengths. Providing services through coach-like engagement promotes the strengths and self-advocacy of youth. Navigators use a variety of tools and resources to support youth, such as flex funds and referrals to relevant resources. Pathways is designed to be short term and intensive; and continue until youth are ready to graduate, when they feel the intervention is complete. The formative evaluation sought to answer the following research questions:

  • How well does the Pathways recruitment and enrollment process identify, refer, and enroll members of the target populations into the intervention?
  • Was the model intervention implemented as intended across sites?
  • Were there differences in implementation between sites and/or between populations?
  • What services and activities did Navigators provide and how did they connect to linchpin goals?
  • To what extent did youth complete the intervention, and to what extent were goals achieved?
  • To what extent are expected short-term outcomes related to permanency, housing, health and well-being, education, and employment being achieved?
  • How successful was coach-like engagement in increasing youths’ self-efficacy and ability to manage independence?

Methods: CPR collected data for the formative evaluation on 128 youth who enrolled in Pathways. CPR developed an online management information system to serve as both a case management and data collection system. Data collected within the online system included: a screening tool to identify youth with an increased risk of homelessness; a baseline survey, and a scale to assess youth engagement and empowerment. To track outcomes, CPR conducted a 12 month follow up telephone survey with youth and supplemented with an extract of administrative data from Colorado’s child welfare system.

Results: The presentation will cover a profile of the 128 youth served, a description of the intervention, overall status of youth engagement in the intervention including goals developed, and program graduation rates. A review of outcomes reported based on the five areas of housing, permanency, education, employment, and health and well-being will be presented.

Conclusions and Implications: The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how the Pathways intervention was refined through usability-testing, and how the (CQI) process was utilized to monitor enrollments, intervention service delivery and track short-term outcomes. The evaluator will present how tools utilized through a formative evaluation can be effective in ensuring a strong intervention is developed and implemented to fidelity, while monitoring the trends of short-term outcomes.