Chapter 1: The Technical Assistance Process
Evaluating Technical Assistance

Technical assistance efforts should be evaluated to answer several key questions:

  • Was the technical assistance process helpful and productive?

  • Were the persons involved in the technical assistance process appropriate for the task?

  • Were the goals of the technical assistance accomplished?

  • Were any barriers encountered that prevented or hindered achieving the expected outcomes of the technical assistance?

  • Has the technical assistance resulted in—or will it result in—needed changes in the jurisdiction or program?

An effective evaluation of technical assistance depends on having clear goals and plans from the beginning of the process. Leaders and stakeholders (perhaps with the help of technical assistance brokers or consultants) need to be able to articulate where they want the technical assistance to lead them. For example, the following illustrate an unsuitable and a suitable goal for technical assistance:


We will increase the involvement of families of youth in our program.


By the end of the next calendar year, this agency will implement services that increase the involvement of families with youth by 50 percent.

A suitable goal provides a specific action to be taken, a timeframe in which the goal will be accomplished, and a way of measuring the success of the action taken. The task of the technical assistance then becomes figuring out what services are needed, how they will be implemented successfully, and how the change can be measured.

There are several ways of evaluating technical assistance, including the following:

  • An exit interview to summarize the process and findings of the technical assistance and to provide initial feedback on assessment and recommendations allows consultants and juvenile justice system personnel to evaluate the effectiveness of the meetings and to clarify misunderstandings.

  • Postsession questions answered by technical assistance recipients and providers should query the technical assistance process and the opinions of those involved regarding its productivity and application. These questions may be verbal or written.

  • A technical assistance report prepared by the consultant should contain a summary of the process, findings, outcomes, and recommendations.

  • Agency documentation of changes should note changes such as revised policies and procedures or development of new programs.

  • Statistical measurement of changes should note changes such as comparison of rates of occurrence of a particular problem with its incidence before the technical assistance.

  • Surveys of client, staff, or community satisfaction with the changes made as a result of the technical assistance are needed. This is a difficult type of measure that requires skillful development and administration of surveys and strict confidentiality of individuals' responses.

If the desired goal of technical assistance is not achieved or the "costs" (e.g., financial, personal distress for clients or staff, program integrity) are too great, the evaluation findings should be used to reshape the process and work toward other avenues of change, which may include additional technical assistance. (Please see Chapter 6, "Resources for Technical Assistance," for examples of evaluation instruments.)

Chapter 1 Contents

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Jurisdictional Technical Assistance Package for Juvenile Corrections Report - December 2000