Short-Term Impact Evaluation
of the Growing Together Program
A total of 80 research participants took part in the
study: 57 group participants completed pre- and post- data; 12 provided pre-test and
follow-up data after a short-term counselling and therapy intervention; 4 families
consented to be interviewed for the purpose of developing case studies about the
Developmental Clinic participation, and 7 completed pre- and post- test interviews after
receiving advocacy services. Data was collected between March, 1997 and August, 1998 and
consisted of interviews with clients using both standardized measures and specially
developed questionnaires and interview protocols. Data collection tools were designed to
measure the objective of each of the interventions being evaluated. Data analysis included
descriptive statistics to summarize the responses of participants and paired sample
t-tests were used to test for significant differences between pre- and post- test data
when it was available for ten or more participants. Content analysis of open-ended
interview responses was carried out in order to identify dominant themes.
Results showed that for the six groups evaluated
(parenting, therapeutic and skill-based), group objectives were being met and desired
improvements in the identified areas were occurring for participants. As well,
participants reported satisfaction with their experience and particularly with the support
they felt from meeting with other mothers. The Developmental Clinic services were
extremely important for each of the families whose case studies were discussed. The cases
presented illustrated the importance of the Developmental Clinic resources for children
identified with biological difficulties and for parents who are anxious about the feeding
and sleeping patterns of a normal infant. Mothers who received counselling/therapy
services for four months, during the immediate post-partum period, demonstrated improved
psychological functioning, and showed improved capacity to engage in a therapeutic
relationship and to begin to be able to process and gain insight from discussion with
their workers. In many instances it was possible to link up mothers to necessary services
in the community. Perhaps most significant, the level of risk for the compromised
development of their children was reduced. A large number of families received advocacy
services, and pre- and post- test impact on the difficult life circumstances that the
families had to deal with. Again, satisfaction with and appreciation of the service was
high. Combining these findings with information obtained through the Process Evaluation
study, research from early intervention studies, and the views of the Co-Directors and
staff, the following program components were seen as being critical:
Early screening of mothers and newborns needs to be
provided using a risk factor assessment and that immediate nursing and other services
should be provided immediately in the neonatal period, as needed.
- Early screening of mothers and newborns needs to be provided using a risk factor
assessment and that immediate nursing and other services should be provided immediately in
the neonatal period, as needed.
- Ongoing and regular monitoring and assessment of children and families should be
available and referral to intervention services within and outside the program occurs as
- Services should be provided directly to the child.
- Services need to be provided to enhance the parent-child interaction and relationship.
- Family support programs need to be provided to families.
- A community development component should be provided.
The following recommendations are made:
- A budget is put in place to assure the continuity of the essential components of the
- Efforts are made to expand services that are provided directly to children.
- The program must continue to develop a number of approaches to meet the needs of the
most multi-challenged families.
- Caution be used around trying 'to be all things to all people' and instead efforts
should concentrate on providing services which have proved to be effective or are
consistent with the essential components outlined in this study.
- Additional funds be provided if further research is to take place as the program's
current resources cannot be used to carry out research without severely compromising the
integrity of service delivery.
Limitations of the research and recommendations for further study are outlined in the