Methods: To develop such guidance, a group of university-based investigators partnered with an evaluation/leadership group from the U.S.’s largest victim service provider organization to conduct an evaluability assessment of the organization’s anti-trafficking program. This program provides comprehensive case management, supportive counseling, trauma-focused therapy, and legal immigration services to victims of labor and sex trafficking, and forced marriage, including all genders and ages, regardless of nationality or citizenship. Guided by well-established evaluability assessment frameworks, this effort included four sequential steps: (a) focusing the assessment, (b) developing the program theory and logic, (c) gathering feedback, and (d) applying the assessment findings. Relatedly, assessment research activities included program document review, site observations, focus groups with program leaders and staff, qualitative interviews with survivors who had received program services, quantitative analysis of program data, and the documenting of lessons learned.
Results: Working as a team, the research and evaluation groups qualitatively analyzed detailed notes from the following activities: (a) six site visits to observe key program activities, (b) two focus groups with program leaders and staff (n=11) concerning the program and its evaluation, (c) interviews with trafficking survivor-clients (n=11) concerning their evaluation recommendations. The team also qualitatively analyzed representative program documents (n=20) concerning service conceptualization and delivery, and conducted quantitative descriptive analyses of program data (n=553). Findings from these five activities were applied to produce program materials (i.e., theory of change, logic model, implementation guide, fidelity instruments) and research materials (i.e., participant recruitment, outcomes measures, data collection protocols) for a subsequent formative evaluation, which is the next project phase. In addition, the team documented lessons learned from these activities, which included: focus on team collaboration, intentional communication with participants, and participant engagement and acknowledgments.
Conclusions and Implications: This evaluability assessment showed that anti-trafficking programs can be robustly and meaningfully evaluated. This assessment also developed strategies to feasibly conduct anti-trafficking program evaluation research in a busy service environment with survivors from diverse backgrounds who have a variety of needs. Thus, the results provide evidence that can guide both research and service provision not only for the specific organization under study, but also for other anti-trafficking programs globally. Guided by these findings, this presentation will offer research strategies to help inform other studies in the developing field of antitrafficking program evaluation research.