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Salinas Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative Local Evaluation

Funding Agency: U.S. Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services

Dates: 2000 - 2002

Staff: Jim Wiley (principal evaluator), Dana Lear, Norm Constantine, Beth Shirk, Esminia Luluquisen, and Martin Sanchez-Janowski

PHI is conducting an comprehensive utilization-focused evaluation of the Salinas sentinel site of the national Safe Schools/Healthy Students (SS/HS) Initiative. This evaluation is a collaboration between PHI's Evaluation Research Division (lead), PHI's Center for Research on Adolescent Health and Development, UC Berkeley's Center for Urban Ethnography, and The Prevention Institute.

SS/HS is an unprecedented effort to provide students, schools and communities the benefit of enhanced comprehensive educational, mental health, social service, and law enforcement services. The Initiative is based on evidence that a comprehensive, integrated community-wide approach is an effective way to promote healthy childhood development and address the problems of school violence and alcohol and other drug abuse. The Initiative is sponsored by the Departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services. Seventy-seven sites across the country have been awarded grants to develop community coalitions. The Initiative requires that each site develop comprehensive, integrated community wide plans to address the following elements: (1) safe school environment; (2) prevention and early intervention programs that address violence, alcohol and other drugs; (3) school and community mental health preventive and treatment intervention services; (4) early childhood psychosocial and emotional development programs; (5) educational reform; and, (6) safe school policies.

Research Triangle Institute in collaboration with RMC Research Corporation is conducting the national cross-site evaluation. This involves collecting and analyzing data to assess the overall impact of the SS/HS initiative across all sites. In addition, each site is performing site-specific evaluations to document and assess program development and implementation at the local level. Responsibilities of the local evaluator include: helping the site strategically plan activities that will achieve program goals and objectives, designing and implementing a process evaluation of the local programs, and designing and conducting a site-specific outcome evaluation to determine whether an intervention has produced its intended effects. Additionally, local evaluators assess how well the programs and services are implemented, how closely the implementation matches the comprehensive community-wide strategy's goals and how much of the programs and services participants actually receive.