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  Free To Grow
  Mailman School
  of Public Health
  Columbia University
  722 West 168th Street,
  8th Floor
  New York, NY 10032











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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.
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Overview of Current Evaluation

National Evaluation of Free To Grow:  Head Start Partnerships to Promote Substance-free Communities

Free To Grow: Head Start Partnerships to Promote Substance-free Communities
is a national demonstration program supporting the implementation of best or promising programs, policies, and practices.  The Free To Grow program, which is designed to build stronger families and communities, works with Head Start families, other community residents, and community institutions. Ultimately, it is expected that the Free To Grow approach will result in prevented, reduced, or delayed substance abuse and child abuse or neglect among families of young children.

Fifteen local Head Start agencies, together with law enforcement agencies, schools, and other local partners, are implementing Free To Grow in communities located across the United States.  Funding for Free To Grow is provided by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and local funding partners.  Direction and technical assistance for the program are provided by the Free To Grow National Program Office at the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.


The National Evaluation:

Wake Forest University School of Medicine was selected in 2001 to conduct a comprehensive independent evaluation of Free To Grow.  Financial support for the national evaluation is being provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention of the U.S. Department of Justice.  The national evaluation completed a planning period (April November, 2001), and is now in the implementation period, which will extend through May 2006.


The national evaluation will provide timely information on the implementation and impact of Free To Grow.  The evaluation uses a quasi-experimental design, in which the 15 Free To Grow Head Start agencies and communities will be compared on a variety of process and outcome measures with 15 Head Start agencies and communities that are not participating in Free To Grow. 

Process Evaluation:
The evaluators will describe and assess program design and implementation in the 15 local Free To Grow (FTG) sites.  The process evaluation will also measure the extent to which efforts similar to FTG are being implemented in the Head Start agencies in the 15 comparison communities.  Specifically, the process evaluation of FTG seeks to answer these questions:

       What is the Free To Grow model and what factors need to be in place to implement the model successfully?

       To what extent is the Free To Grow model sustained in the demonstration sites and the groundwork laid for replication elsewhere?

Data for the process evaluation will be collected through a record of families' participation in FTG, semi-annual site visits and surveys of FTG program staff, annual surveys of FTG community partners, biennial surveys of national Head Start leadership, and reports from the National Program Office.  Data will be collected from comparison sites through annual telephone interviews with Head Start partners and semi-annual surveys of key Head Start staff.

Impact Evaluation:

The FTG impact evaluation will assess the effects of FTG on community partnerships, neighborhoods, and families.  Specifically, the impact evaluation of FTG seeks to answer these questions:

       What is the impact of Free To Grow on community partnerships, neighborhoods, and families? 

       What is the relationship between the quality, intensity, and integration of Free To Grow interventions and partnership, neighborhood, and family outcomes?

       What family and community factors influence the impact of Free To Grow?

Data will be collected through annual telephone surveys of families participating in FTG as well as families who are not participating in FTG but live in FTG neighborhoods in the 15 FTG sites.  In addition, families served by Head Start agencies in the 15 comparison sites will be surveyed by telephone.  Data on the neighborhood-level impact of FTG will be obtained from a variety of sources, including review of existing documents and data and direct observation of community characteristics and conditions.

Products:
Products of the evaluation will include regular reports to FTG funders and stakeholders (including the 15 FTG sites); updates on the evaluation--including lessons learned and their implications for local FTG sites--at the FTG Annual Grantee Meetings; presentations at national conferences of researchers, policy-makers, and practitioners; and publications in the scientific literature.

Evaluation Team:
The national evaluation is being conducted by an experienced multidisciplinary team at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem State University, the University of North Carolina, the University of South Carolina, and the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California.  The team includes individuals with extensive experience in research and evaluation in the areas of substance abuse prevention, family strengthening, community organizing, and child development.

For more information, please contact the Program Manager for the National Evaluation:

 

Susan Brittain, M.A.Ed.

Department of Public Health Sciences

Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Medical Center Boulevard

Winston-Salem, NC  27157

Telephone:  336-716-1482

Fax:  336-716-7554

                                                E-mail: subritta@wfubmc.edu





 

copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Disclaimer
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.