Since 2004, Walter R. McDonald & Associates, Inc. (WRMA) has worked in partnership with ICF Macro and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Research Institute in performing a cross-site evaluation of the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative (NCTSI). This initiative, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), focuses on improving services, access to care, and outcomes for children and adolescents who have been exposed to traumatic events such as abuse and neglect, community and domestic violence, serious accidental injury, and natural disasters.
The cross-site evaluation focus is on the organization, collaborative efforts, functions and impacts of the NCTSI. The evaluation draws upon the body of existing literature in multiple disciplines relevant to trauma treatment and services for children and families, including program evaluation conducted by the grantees to assess the effectiveness of the NCTSI in meeting the intent of federal appropriations and its own stated goals. The overarching goals of the cross-site evaluation are to:
- Describe the children and families served by NCTSI and their outcomes
- Assess the development and dissemination of effective treatments and services
- Evaluate intra-NCTSI collaboration
- Assess the NCTSI's broader impacts beyond the network of funded centers
The evaluation includes data collection and analyses that involve multiple centers, and diverse programs and populations. Together with the other members of the evaluation team, WRMA provides study-related training and technical assistance to funded centers, community agencies, and participating organizations; conducts site visits; facilitates project communication and data reporting; and prepares written reports. The evaluation design includes components studying 1) client satisfaction with direct services, 2) the impact of training on service providers' sensitivity to trauma-related issues and how these issues are addressed, and 3) center collaboration on developing and disseminating interventions for trauma-exposed children.
WRMA's project team conducts special studies on topics such as factors affecting the development, dissemination, and adoption of new interventions; cultural context and competence of services; and the status and effect of collaboration between centers and other stakeholders. WRMA responsibilities also include research design; data collection; project coordination and planning; and validation and management of data provided by NCTSI centers and other stakeholders. WRMA has lead responsibility for implementing and coordinating research on the development and dissemination of products and innovations by centers participating in the NCTSI. This includes qualitative case studies, and both qualitative and quantitative analyses of data submitted by centers quarterly and annually to SAMHSA about products and center activities.