Research & Evaluation
Iowa Center for Evaluation & Research
DMC Resource Center

Recent public health research and evaluation projects

Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV)
The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) supports pregnant women and families to improve the health and well-being of children. By electing to participate in one of these programs, new parents receive guidance from health, social service, and child development professionals. Under the Affordable Care Act, MIECHV is sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration. The evaluation tracks support to pregnant women and families and the help parents of children from birth to age 5 receive in gaining resources and developing parenting skills so that children are physically, socially and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.

Project LAUNCH (Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children’s Health) Evaluation
Grounded in a public health approach, LAUNCH addresses the physical, social, emotional, cognitive and behavioral aspects of child development to create a shared vision for the wellness of young children. A key element of the program is coordination of child-serving systems and the integration of behavioral and physical health services. The result is for children to be thriving in safe, supportive environments and entering school ready to learn and able to succeed in school. Project LAUNCH is a federal program sponsored by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration and administered by the Iowa Department of Public Health to promote the health and well-being of young children from birth to age eight. The target area is families who live in inner city Des Moines and whose families are traditionally underserved due to income or minority status. The program is designed to support Young Child Wellness Councils to increase coordination of child-serving systems, build infrastructure and improve methods for providing services. The evaluation tracks improvement in family functioning, health and access to resources, improved delivery of services and coordination and collaboration of councils to more effectively meet the needs of children and families. 

Family Support Statewide Database (FSSD) Evaluation
The Family Support Statewide Database was developed to help family serving agencies across track outcomes for families expecting a child or with children up to age five who are assisted through Iowa Department of Public Health sponsored evidence based programs. Tracking also provides benchmarks and performance measures for the requirements of the Early Childhood Iowa State Board for all family support programs.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Crisis Center Follow-Up Project Evaluation
Each year, thousands of Americans call crisis centers across the country to seek the help of a mental health counselor. The Crisis Center Follow-Up project promotes follow up contact with at-risk individuals to provide continuity of care, coordinate services, and develop collaborations between emergency departments and other health care professionals. Evaluation of these services is conducted in collaboration with the service provider, Foundation II, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

CVAD Restitution Assessment
Crime victims are often subject to more than just physical and mental distress, including costly bills for injuries, counseling, and court.  To remedy this situation in the state of Iowa, the Office of the Attorney General sponsors the Crime Victim Compensation program which helps victims with out-of-pocket expenses related to crime.  The Iowa Attorney General's Crime Victim Assistance Division received a three year grant to study and improve the process of awarding and collecting restitution for these crime victims, which will be completed by the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice.  The first phase of the project is a comprehensive, statewide needs assessment intended to gather experiences of various court personnel, victim advocates, and other stakeholders across the state to help identify gaps and critical challenges in the ordering and collection of restitution.  Objectives for years two and three of the project are to develop strategies based on the findings from the needs assessment.

Evaluation of the Impact of Home Energy Assistance Services
Homeowners across the country utilize energy assistance measures such as weatherization and low income heating assisting programs to save money and reduce environmental impact.  People Working Cooperatively (PWC) in Cincinnati provides professional home weatherization and whole house services for low income homeowners who are elderly or disabled to save energy, money and stay in their homes. Evaluation of the impact of  home energy assistance services sponsored by the Department of Energy was designed to determine the relative benefits of three services (whole house with energy assistance, whole house without energy assistance, energy assistance only). Effects of PWC services were measured for housing and home condition, mobility and accessibility, energy security, financial benefits, ability to care for children, improved health and safety, stress reduction and increased community involvement.

Connecting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care to Centers for Working Families at Community Colleges Evaluation
A post-secondary credential has become increasingly important in today’s economy and one of the critical pathways out of poverty. Young adults aging out of foster care are at particular risk of both not enrolling in post-secondary education and not completing a post-secondary course of study due to multiple barriers. The project is designed to connect youth currently involved with the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative to Centers for Working Families (CWF) sites based at two community colleges. The National Resource Center for Family Centered practice is currently conducting the evaluation of this program.  The evaluation provides web-based tracking from counselor input of key data elements for the project such as strong connections to workforce development, asset building/financial education and access to income supports that will help transitioning youth stay in school and lead to living wage employment and financial stability. Students participating in enriched Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s to Centers for Working Families (CWF) services have achieved increased retention, which is up to 20 percentage points higher than similar non-participating students.

Organizational Effectiveness Training and Technical Assistance Evaluation Program
One of Iowa’s largest child welfare service providers is Children & Families of Iowa (CFI), a multi-program private non-profit with programs for providing mental health and child welfare services. In an effort to improve services for over 21,000 individuals across Iowa, CFI works with The University of Iowa School of Social Work, National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice (NRCFCP) to conduct performance monitoring and evaluation. Goals and indicators were developed using a participatory model involving the Board of Directors, program managers and information from program participants. Quarterly results assist program staff in their efforts to strengthen practice, improve programs and demonstrate outcomes to funding sources, the Board of Directors and other community stakeholders. An annual workshop provided participants with information that will result in their ability to: 1) articulate how to effectively collaborate to build an effective outcome evaluation system, 2) design a multi-level agency-wide outcome measures strategy and 3) understand key elements in sustaining an agency-wide system. 

Native Families for Native Children Case Examples
Native American children face unique challenges within the child welfare system and are oftentimes underserved due to lack of training and resources.  The NF4NC (Native Families for Native Children) project will build cooperation and collaboration among the NF4NC child welfare partners to help workers in four Tribal communities recruit, train, license, and support Native resource families in the traditions, needs, and resources of their communities. The current foster/adoptive parent and kinship care training will be revised and tested to make it culturally responsive and more effective for Native people; native trainers from the program sites will be trained to conduct foster/adoptive/kinship care training, support community leaders, and serve as consultants to agencies that are interested in replication. The National Resource Center for Family-Centered Practice will develop six case examples from which Tribal and State child welfare systems can learn.

 Professional & Home Care Aide Statewide Training Program (PHCAST) Curriculum Evaluation
The purpose of the PHCAST program is to recruit and train individuals as qualified personal and home care aides in occupational shortage and/or high demand areas. There is an increasing need for qualified home care aides specialized fields including geriatric, mental health and disability care.  To reduce this shortage and to encourage workers to stay in the field, PHCAST was designed to provide new and continuing education to direct care professionals. The training is intended to develop core competencies in these fields. In 2012 the Iowa legislature adopted recommendations of the Direct Care Worker Advisory Council for standardized training and credentialing of the direct care workforce. The evaluation monitored workforce changes (e.g., satisfaction, retention and turnover) and conducted assessments to measure the effectiveness of the curriculum and training curriculum on knowledge and use of that knowledge in practice.  

Iowa Comprehensive Cancer Control Consortium Evaluation
The burden of cancer affects almost every Iowan.  To reduce the impact of the disease, the Iowa Comprehensive Cancer Control Evaluation combines community resources across the state to prevent cancer, identify cancer in its earliest stages, improve access and quality of cancer treatments and improve quality of life among those impacted by cancer.  The annual evaluation of the CCCC focuses on satisfaction of membership, outcomes of ICCCC projects including the Care for Yourself program, Iowa Get Screened colon cancer prevention project and monitors cost through determining the return on investment for the Healthy Families Line and tracking results for a small media campaign intended to increase mammography rates.

Chronic Disease Partnership Evaluation
The Chronic Disease Partnership is a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supporting statewide implementation of cross-cutting approaches to promote health and prevent and control chronic diseases and their risk factors. The focus of the program is on four key health areas: Diabetes, Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity and School Health. The Chronic Disease Partnership is a program which conducts chronic disease prevention, treatment and monitoring activities to promote positive health outcomes for preventable diseases. The programs under evaluation are intended to prevent and monitor efforts to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, reduce diabetes and heart disease/stroke.

Supportive Housing and Child Welfare Evaluation
Homeless children often enter the welfare system at an early age due to a lack of family unity and stable housing. Partners United for Supportive Housing in Cedar Rapids (PUSH-CR) is one of five projects in the country which aims to develop, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based service approach to supporting homeless families who are also involved with child welfare services. The project will provide housing and supportive services to 125 homeless families over the course of five years with the key goals of attaining housing stability, preventing out-of-home placement, and facilitating reunification between children in foster care and their families. The National Resource Center is conducting an implementation and outcome evaluation to determine the effectiveness of the project using data derived from a randomized experiment.  The study will provide recommendations for the program based on housing, support services, placement, reunification, and child maltreatment data.

Family Support Workforce Study

Iowa’s family support systems cannot succeed without a strong, educated family support workforce.  A statewide study of Iowa’s family support workforce is currently underway, which seeks to gain a greater understanding of the family support workforce and its organizational contexts, to assess changes in the workforce and impact of supervision training, and to measure the relationship between workforce issues and family support outcomes. The overall goal of this multi-year effort is to strengthen the workforce and to improve the quality of family support services.  Evaluation was conducted through multiple surveys which were distributed among family support providers in direct service, supervisory, and administrative roles.  The survey will determine areas of growth for the workforce overall, including areas such as language fluency and salary.  


Evaluation of Equipping Youth’s Powerful Choices Program

This project was an evaluation of a community-based abstinence education program implemented in Linn County, Iowa by Equipping Youth, a private non-profit funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The program aimed to provide abstinence-until-marriage education to middle school students and to create an environment in the community that supports youth decisions to postpone sexual activity until marriage. The purpose of the evaluation was to measure changes in knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of students participating in Powerful Choices curriculum compared to those who did not receive the curriculum.  More information about the Powerful Choices program can be found at the Equipping Youth website:

Evaluation of Community-Based Abstinence Education Program March 2011[click here]

Evaluation of the First Year of the IowaCares Program

Commissioned by the Iowa Department of Human Services, the report was completed in December 2008 by the Public Policy Center and Iowa Center for Evaluation Research, a part of the National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice in the UI School of Social Work. Three methods were employed for the evaluation. Surveys were used to assess enrollee perceptions, claims data were evaluated to determine outcomes of care, and focus groups and personal interviews were conducted to assess perceptions of hospital providers and administrators. The full report can be accessed by clicking here. An executive summary is also available [click here]. For other information you may visit the UI Public Policy Center.

To see the UI Press Release, [click here].

Heartland Center for Occupational Health and Safety

The Heartland Center provides doctoral and in-service training in several areas of occupational safety and health including: ergonomics, occupational medicine, occupational health nursing, agricultural health, industrial hygiene, and occupational injury prevention. ICER is providing evaluation of these efforts funded by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. Heartland's website is located at:

Iowa Medical Home Initiative Learning Collaborative

This project was an evaluation of the Iowa Medical Home Initiative Learning Collaborative conducted for the Child Health Specialty Clinics, along with Iowa Academy of Family Practitioners. The project examined family supports and pediatric practices in the process to provide medical homes. Funded by DHHS/HRSA/Maternal and Child Health Branch, the final annual evaluation report is available - (click for pdf)


For more information, please contact:

Brad Richardson, Ph.D., Research Director
DMC Coordinator & Adjunct Associate Professor
The University of Iowa School of Social Work
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice
100 MTP4, Room 162
Iowa City, IA 52242-5000
office:    319.335.4924
fax:        319.335.4964
mobile:  515.771.3589

Kellee Thorburn McCrory, M.P.H.
Coordinator, Iowa Center for Evaluation Research
The University of Iowa School of Social Work
National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice
100 MTP4, Room 162
Iowa City, IA 52242-5000
office: 319.335.4931
NRCFCP - 319.335.4965

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