extensive evaluation if they communicate frequently with local agencies and each other about their interventions.
The two-way arrows highlighted in Figure 2-1 symbolize the dual benefit that is likely to result when the academic and governmental sectors partner with local programs to enhance evaluation capacity at the local level. The arrow tips marked “A” connote the delivery of local-level evaluation capacity building through the planned efforts of the academic and the governmental sectors. The arrow tips marked “B” reflect the opportunities for those in the academic and governmental sectors to work with and expand upon local pilot programs that show promise for attaining measurable health benefits and merit consideration for diffusion and replication.
Although it may be unrealistic to expect local-level program personnel to have the capacity to conduct full-scale comprehensive evaluations, it is not at all unreasonable for local-level programs to have in place practical mechanisms that will enable them to detect, record, and report on reasonable indicators of the progress and the impact of a program. Issues and examples related to who will pay for the evaluation efforts and the role of government and foundations are discussed throughout the report.
Training opportunities to enhance the ability of stakeholders to conduct evaluations are needed. As indicated above, evaluation is often viewed as primarily being within the purview of foundations, government, and academic institutions. Evaluation is a basic function and integral element of public health programs. However, the core competencies related to conducting community evaluations should be widely disseminated to staff members of nonprofit organizations, schools, preschools, after-school programs, faith-based organizations, child-care programs, and many others. The full utilization of the expertise of academic institutions, foundations, and public health departments in partnership with community and school groups will provide the knowledge base for well-designed evaluation strategies. Tools such as distance learning can take further advantage of disseminating this information. As discussed in Chapter 4, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Program to Prevent Obesity and Other Chronic Diseases is focused on state capacity building, implementation, and enhanced training opportunities. Several practitioner-focused training programs have been developed through the CDC Prevention Research Centers (Chapters 4 and 6). Further, evaluation training for teachers and school staff can be included as a component of school wellness plans and will provide another opportunity to enhance evaluation capacity.
Children and youth live in environments that are substantially different from those of a few decades ago. Many environmental factors substantially