Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Bringing an Outcome Focus to a Federally-Funded Technical Assistance Project

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Allison P Hyra and Matthew Shepherd, ICF International
While many human service interventions are now required to include evaluations and rely on evidence-based curricula (see for example the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program funded by the Office of Adolescent Health), in general, the technical assistance (TA) funded to support discretionary grant programs have not been subject to increased scrutiny. As long-term providers of TA to a range of federal and state human and social services programs (including TANF, Health Professions Opportunities grants and Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood (HMRF) grants)  of such technical assistance, we predict that quality improvement and evaluation requirements will soon become part of the TA contract with the Federal government.

This paper describes our TA 360° model developed and implemented to provide a multiyear assessment strategy that focuses on project outputs, immediate outcomes, and grantee programmatic outcomes. The model uses a five-step, quality improvement cycle to identify and assess TA needs, deliver TA, collect feedback and outcome information, and the refine TA processes and procedures. This model ensures responsiveness and standardization of TA efforts across a large project team; builds in reflection and learning as part of the TA process, rather than at the end of a contract; establishes a quality improvement framework; provides monitoring systems to bolster accountability for TA provider and grantee; institutionalizes mindfulness and integration of a multi-pronged approach; and creates systemic, compounding improvement over time. 

The 360 approach informs how we design entire TA projects, create TA tasks and engage in individual TA events. The model is currently being implemented for HMRF grantees and State and tribal TANF agencies funded by the Office of Family Assistance in the Administration for Children and Families. We will describe how the model has been specifically operationalized for these projects and the initial evaluation results and model refinements. As we begin to formalize this TA 360° model into our other TA contracts, we will also speak to its implications for TA with various clients, funding streams, and programmatic goals.