Last week the CHRN launched our Leadership Academy in Program Evaluation. We brought together service providers and administrators from more than 15 homeless-serving agencies from across Canada. The idea was to begin a year long process of building capacity within the homelessness sector to conduct program evaluation that is meaningful to agencies and their clients, rather than an activity that simply responds to the demands from funders.
This Leadership Academy began with a two and a half day conference / workshop held at York University in Toronto. We had a great panel of presenters, including Michaela Hynie of York University, Stephanie Baker-Collins of McMaster, Jennie Vengris from Hamilton SPRC, Marylin Dyck from the Doorway in Calgary, Diane Dyson from Woodgreen in Toronto, and Audrey Cole and Ashley Lacome-Duncan from the Paloma Foundation. I also presented a few sessions.
Our goals for the event included:
Providing people with an understanding of basic concepts in program evaluation, tailored to concerns and issues found in the homelessness sector. We introduced participants to some key examples, including the Outcomes Star from the UK, and the Paloma -Wellesley Guide to Participatory Program Evaluation;
Having each agency leave with an action plan to help them move forward with program evaluation;
Finally, we wanted to establish a learning community to carry this work forward in the coming year. Establish is probably not the right word. We are building on the amazing work of Eva's Initiatives, which has already nurtured the development of a vibrant learning community amongst agencies working with street youth across Canada. The majority of attendees at our Leadership Academy were from Eva's Learning Community, with a few other additions.
We’re calling this a Learning Academy, because the 2.5 day event was only the beginning. Over the coming year, the agencies, will continue their work supported by the learning community, the Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN), and York University. We feel this is a much better way to support learning and the application of this new knowledge.
Through the CHRN, and in partnership with York University, the Faculty of Education and the York Institute for Health Research, we are beginning to develop a fully fledged certificate course in program evaluation, that will have a strong web-based component, so stay tuned for developments on this.
My final comments have to do with the success of the event: It was incredible to have in one room such amazing talent, knowledge and experience. The conversations that took place were the major highlight for me. This is an amazing group of people who through their work demonstrate their commitment to ending homelessness in Canada. We hope that the Leadership Academy in Program Evaluation will help people working in this field to not only improve upon their work, but to make their work visible to others, and to really contribute to good solutions to the problem of homelessness. More to come on this one…
Until then, here are some photos from the event...
I am very excited to be writing the inaugural Homeless Research Matters blog post! And while I hope the title I chose, Research Cannot End Homelessness, caught your attention, I also hope you don’t buy it.
Mobilizing research to help end homelessness is kinda our shtick. We can be heard touting our slogan “Making Research Matter” from the rooftops. We actually have a lot riding on this belief...and we’re not the only ones.
What the numbers say
Between 157,000 and 300,000 Canadians experience absolute homelessness and 3.5 million Canadians live in poverty.
But where does the research come into play?
Simple - we believe that the impact of research is threefold:
· Research can help educate the general public about people who are homeless and homelessness issues;
· Research can inform policy makers and help them make evidence-based decisions;
· Research can provide evidence-based solutions to service providers in the social, health care and housing sectors.
We hope to reach more people and get evidence-based information about homelessness out to a larger audience. So, please, share this with colleagues and friends, add us to your blogroll and check back regularly for our latest posts.
How can I learn more?
Visit the homelesshub.ca for:
· Education materials for teachers and students to raise awareness of homelessness
· Arts-based research, including films, theatre, music, photography and visual art
· First-hand experiences written by homeless people, formerly homeless and service providers
· Homelessness-related events across Canada
Allyson Marsolais, Project Coordinator for the Canadian Homelessness Research Network, has a Masters Degree in Critical Disability Studies from York University and has been working in the social justice field for over 5 years.
Content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives License
The analysis and interpretations contained in the blog posts are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.