TIER researchers regularly serve as evaluation partners for non-profit and government organizations. TIER’s evaluations are designed in collaboration with program and policy leads, reflecting TIER’s commitment to conducting accessible and useful evaluations that simultaneously satisfy funders, help programs improve practices and build their own evaluation capacity, and advance the research field.
Community Health Equity Initiative
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH)’s Community Health Equity Initiative (CHEI) contracted with TIER to work on a collaborative project with communities across the state to collect and use data to change conditions that get in the way of health. CHEI partners with communities, particularly those often left out of public health data efforts, to collect, analyze, interpret, and act upon data that both reflects community members’ experiences and the topics important to them. Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, TIER will recruit, train, and support a cohort of Community Evaluators (CEs) to carry out qualitative data collection in their communities. This initiative will supplement a statewide online survey that will be released by MDPH in summer 2023 and will explore topics and experiences that are difficult to understand from survey data.
Evaluation of the Healthy Families Massachusetts Partnership with Medical Legal Partnership Boston
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) partnership with MLPB. MLPB seeks to equip HFM home visitors with information and resources that they can use to assist families with potential legal issues, and to increase families’ access to a range of services and legal protections. This mixed methods study aims to describe how MLPB shapes the work of home visitors, and how that work impacts the broader systems of care in which families are situated.
Evaluation of the Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood Project (MA EfC)
TIER is conducting a participatory, mixed-methods evaluation of MA EfC, an initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. MA EfC brings together stakeholders from multiple sectors to address the problem of child abuse and neglect (CAN) by promoting safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments. The five-year evaluation comprises a process evaluation component assessing EfC progress toward meeting its implementation goals, and an outcomes evaluation component using use state- and community-level data to assess the extent to which MA EfC CAN prevention efforts appear to have affected changes in practices at the municipal and agency levels, as well as population-level changes in key areas. Framed by an understanding that families and communities exist within systems in which advantages are conferred based on race, our evaluation includes questions that ask how members of the communities most affected by CAN have been included in EfC decision-making, what the barriers are to more equitable outcomes and how EfC is addressing these barriers, and how EfC strategies are decreasing (or inadvertently worsening) racial inequities.
Evaluation of the Medford Interconnected Resiliency Network
TIER is partnering with the City of Medford Office of Prevention and Outreach (OPO) to evaluate OPO’s new Interconnected Resiliency Network funded by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH), Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) Massachusetts Collaborative for Action, Leadership, and Learning 3 (MassCALL3) Substance Misuse Prevention Grant Program.
Healthy Families Massachusetts
TIER is contracted by the Children’s Trust of Massachusetts to conduct an ongoing evaluation of Healthy Families Massachusetts (HFM) including multiple activities such as a study of how family support programs provided services during the COVID pandemic; an examination of the alignment between HFM demographics and Massachusetts’ same-age population across the state and within catchment areas; a return on investment substudy based on key HFM outcomes (e.g., decreased depression, less likely to have a repeat case with child protective services); a study of depression screening and referrals for fathers enrolled in HFM; and an evaluation of HFM’s Nurturing Fathers Program.
Massachusetts Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MA MIECHV) Innovation Grant Evaluation
MA MIECHV is developing a MIECHV Equity Data Dashboard for real-time data visualization to drive continuous quality improvement (CQI) efforts at local implementing agency (LIA), community, and awardee levels and leverage data as a tool towards eliminating structural racism and improving the effectiveness of MIECHV-funded home visiting services. The Dashboard will catalyze a comprehensive training and capacity development structure focused on promoting racial equity and partnering with families to use data to address inequities that will enhance state and local collaborations and data-driven decision-making. TIER is conducting a mixed methods implementation and outcomes evaluation that will document the processes through which the Dashboard is developed; assess how LIA capacity to engage with the Dashboard is fostered; examine how LIAs engage with the Dashboard; and assess the extent to which the Innovation improves community partnerships, family engagement, data quality, and reduces inequities in key performance metrics.
Massachusetts Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MA MIECHV) Program Coordinated State Evaluation (CSE)
The MA MIECHV program administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) contracted with TIER to design and lead the CSE. MDPH and TIER are part of a small group of MIECHV awardees working with the MIECHV Evaluation Coordinating Center (MECC) to develop an evaluation focused on family engagement and health equity. By collaborating with other awardees to develop complementary evaluations, the CSE will amplify the work of awardees’ evaluations through collective impact and enhance knowledge of what works in home visiting.
National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Award
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) contracted TIER to design and direct a 2-year evaluation and needs assessment project as part of MDPH’s National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Award from the CDC. The goals of the grant are to reduce pandemic-related health disparities, improve rural community health outcomes, and improve data collection and reporting capacity for populations experiencing the disproportionate burden of COVID-19. Using a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach, TIER is recruiting, hiring, training, and supporting a cohort of community evaluators (CEs) to ensure Massachusetts residents with lived experience in the communities prioritized in the grant are an active part of the evaluation process and public health response. The team will implement policy analyses, needs assessments, and evaluation projects in response to MDPH’s priorities and work with MDPH to translate findings into program recommendations.
Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Birth to 5 Needs Assessment and Evaluation
TIER is partnering with MEF Associates to carry out the Preschool Development Grant (PDG) Birth to 5 Needs Assessment and Evaluation. The PDG grant, managed by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, seeks to elevate family and workforce voices across Massachusetts to better support families with young children. The mixed methods needs assessment and evaluation includes surveys, interviews, and focus groups with families and the early years workforce. TIER is convening a parent and workforce advisory group to oversee the study.
SAFE Child Communities
The Children’s Trust of Massachusetts is developing a comprehensive model of the primary prevention of child maltreatment in Massachusetts: Stop Abuse for Every (SAFE) Child Communities. Using a place-based, multiservice approach, SAFE Child Communities will create community hubs across the state to enable the coordination of child and family support services across different programs. The starting point for SAFE Child Communities is an expansion of the Children’s Trust Family Centers, family-focused, community-based centers where families access a range of on-site family support services and off-site referrals. Since 2016, the Children’s Trust has partnered with several of its existing Family Centers and TIER to conduct a needs assessment to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of SAFE Child Communities. We are currently focused on piloting and designing a streamlined Family Center data system.
Roca Young Mothers Program Evaluation
The Roca Young Mothers Program intensively engages a population of young women under the age of 24 years, most with children under the age of 5, who are struggling to thrive and survive due to repeated early exposure to trauma, social isolation, exposure to violence and abuse, and discrimination. Many of the young women Roca serves are not attending parenting programs and are not responsive to home visiting and other family support programs. The Young Mothers Program currently operates in three sites: Chelsea, MA, Springfield, MA, and Hartford, CT. The 3-year mixed methods implementation and outcomes evaluation will examine the unique characteristics and service needs of participants and track their intermediate- and longer-term outcomes across a range of domains including behavioral health, education and employment, parenting, child development, and systems involvement. The evaluation includes (1) qualitative primary data collection with young women, youth workers, other Roca staff, and community collaborators; (2) secondary analysis of Roca’s performance management tool, Efforts to Outcomes (ETO); and (3) linkages to and secondary analysis of state administrative data.
The Role of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) Home Visiting Program in Supporting Families Involved with Child Protective Services (CPS)
Historically, home visiting has focused on improving parenting as a primary means to reduce rates of child protective services (CPS) involvement. While this service approach in many ways implicitly presumes a logical, linear relationship between parenting “quality” and the likelihood of involvement with the child welfare system, decades of research highlighting inequitable child welfare outcomes suggest that CPS involvement is as much (if not more) an artifact of racist systems and policies that oppress and marginalize parents, specifically parents who are Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous. Parents as Teachers National Center (PAT) has been collaborating with researchers from TIER to undertake a home visiting infrastructure-building strategy that aims to substantively change the ways in which home visiting programs serve CPS-involved families by explicitly acknowledging structural inequities, helping families navigate the child welfare system, and facilitating equitable access to the benefits of home visiting. Supported by PATNC, TIER’s multiyear project includes focus groups with providers, families, and CPS workers; a national survey; and facilitation of a Learning Community with affiliates as a venue for peer learning and to help guide PATNC’s broader efforts to strengthen supports for families involved with CPS.
The Root Cause Exchange
TIER is collaborating with the Root Cause Exchange at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) and TIER Community Evaluator (CE) alumni to learn what it takes to authentically engage community members to effectively translate evaluation findings into actionable policy recommendations. We plan to: 1) work with CEs to develop a set of policy questions or structural issues to explore and identify the resources or information needed to carry out their work; 2) implement a collaborative approach to provide these resources, support CEs to carry out a project they plan, and translate evaluation findings into actionable recommendations and changes within the MDPH context. Our work will serve as a “test case” for authentic community engagement that can help inform the Exchange’s future work and operationalize data-to-action efforts.