DHS Contract Mgr Gloster Mahon
Annual Grant $ $539,732 (Entire Grant)
Evaluator Name & Contact Info Richard Sherman, Ph.D.
Sherman Consulting Group LLC
Annual Eval $ $36,000 (Entire cost)
Funding Source US Department of Justice
Eval Period 10/1/2008 - 9/30/2010

Proposed Evaluation Plan

The purpose of the evaluation of the Illinois Rx: Resources for Ex-Offenders Prisoner Re-Entry Initiative is to assess the program's ability to achieve its stated purpose to develop, coordinate and advance resources for ex-offenders returning to the Englewood and West Englewood communities within the City of Chicago.

The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) is responsible for administration and implementation of this program, through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs. The Community Mental Health Council, Inc. received a subcontract to provide pre-release eligibility assessments, re-entry planning, and other pre-release services prior to participating ex-offender community re-entry. Liberation Christian Center received a subcontract to provide a range of post-release services to participating ex-offenders following community re-entry.

The evaluation includes methods for assessment of the post-release service provider that will be funded through an award from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Participating ex-offenders will be men and women who are returning to the targeted Chicago communities following incarceration in the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) system. Sherman Consulting Group, LLC will conduct this evaluation, under the direction of Richard E. Sherman, Ph.D. The evaluation will contain both process and outcome components. A key aspect of the evaluation will be to monitor and assess program compliance with Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) performance measure data collection and reporting expectations established by Department of Justice (DOJ) for this funding initiative.

Process Evaluation

The process stage of the evaluation is designed to address the following questions related to returning ex-offender service implementation, delivery, and efficiency.

  • Process Evaluation Question. Is the program implemented as intended? (Data Sources: Implementation Plan, Program Time Lines, Program Reports.)

    Aspects of program implementation will be tracked in the following areas: formation and functioning of the advisory group and linkages with other stakeholder groups; staff recruitment and hiring; staff training on program assessment, service plan, and other data collection tools; development of written policies and procedures; program service information dissemination; and participation of program partners in the development and implementation phase. Program records, developed materials, and other related documentation will be reviewed to assist in assessment of service and data collection activity implementation.

  • Process Evaluation Question. What is the baseline number of ex-offenders who could be potentially referred to the program=s services, the prior availability of pre-release and post-release services for these ex-offenders, and what are their demographic characteristics? (Data Source: Participating IDOC Facilities)

    The DOJ GPRA performance measures for this funding initiative include establishment of a baseline number for the target population. This baseline will be used to assess the extent to which the program has been able to expand the level of pre-release and post-release services currently being provided to returning ex-offenders. IDOC facilities that will serve as sources of referral will be asked to provide data regarding the numbers of ex-offenders that have been released to the targeted Chicago communities during the most recent 12-month reporting period. The referring IDOC facilities will also be asked to provide data regarding the numbers of offenders within this group who received pre-release services prior to their re-entry to the community, and how many received post-release services. Data will also be requested regarding the demographic characteristics of the offenders within this baseline group. The evaluator will be responsible for analysis of this data and the inclusion of target population baseline numbers and service percentages as part of interim program evaluation reports.

Outcome Evaluation

The program's outcome evaluation questions will focus on a range of outcomes among the returning ex-offenders who participate in the IDHS PRI program. The outcome evaluation will focus on the data collection needed to effectively respond to the six GPRA performance measures listed in the DOJ PRI grant announcement.

  • Outcome Evaluation Question. To what extent did the program achieve its quantitative objectives for client admission and service delivery? (Data Sources: Implementation Plan, Service Provider Documentation Forms, Monthly Service Reports)

    Types and amounts of client services provided through the program will be tracked on a monthly basis on both group and individual levels. The evaluator will develop monthly report forms during the assessment and planning phase for the Community Mental Health Council, and for Liberation Christian Center and the DOL-funded post-release services provider. These monthly report forms will be designed to obtain on a routine basis the data needed to respond to several DOJ GPRA performance measure reporting requirements. The Community Mental Health Council monthly report form will indicate the number of ex-offenders referred for program participation, the number of ex-offenders who receive risk and need assessments, the number of assessed ex-offenders who are selected for program participation, the number for whom the initial version of a post-release services plan is developed, and separately the numbers of ex-offenders referred to Liberation Christian Center and the DOL-funded post-release services provider. The Community Mental Health Council monthly report will also indicate the various types of pre-release services provided to participating offenders.

    The Liberation Christian Center and DOL-funded post-release services provider monthly reports will include the numbers of new participant referrals, numbers of initial assessments completed, numbers of post-release plans developed, and the numbers of ex-offenders who are enroled in the program. Numbers of program participants enrolled during the reporting month who were provided post-release services by type will also be reported. The post-release service provider monthly reports will indicate the number of enrolled ex-offenders who successfully completed the program during the reporting period, and those enrolled ex-offenders who were non-successful completions.

    Each monthly report will include a narrative section in which the provider organization will be asked to describe any changes in the services provided and the reasons for any such changes. Each organization will be asked to discuss what they view as major accomplishments during the month, as well as any barriers or obstacles they have encountered. In terms of barriers or obstacles, the service provider will be asked to provide a description of the steps that have been or will be taken in response, and whether they require any assistance from IDHS.

    In regards to the Community Mental Health Council monthly report, this organization will be asked to describe the circumstances surrounding any ex-offenders who were assessed for program participation but not selected, and any ex-offenders who were assessed and selected for program participation but did not complete pre-release services. The pre-release services provider will also be asked to list the names of ex-offenders who were referred to Liberation Christian Center and the names of the ex-offenders referred to the DOL-funded post-release services provider. The post-release service provider monthly reports will include information regarding any ex-offenders who were assessed but not selected for participation in post-release services, and any ex-offenders who did not successfully complete post-release services.

    As part of their monthly service reports, the post-release service providers will be asked to submit an individual service report for each participating ex-offender who received post-release services during the month, as well as a summary close-out report for each ex-offender who completed post-release services during the month.

    The evaluator will use the monthly service reports to maintain group level data and information regarding program functioning. The participant monthly service and final close-out reports provided by the post-release service provider organizations will be the source of individual ex-offender data that is required to comply with the DOJ GPRA performance measure expectations.

  • Outcome Evaluation Question. What outcomes are evident among the returning offenders who participate in PRI services? (Data Sources: Participant Data Collection Tools.)

    The outcome portion of the evaluation will focus on evidence of changes in participating returning ex-offender functioning. A process will be developed for documentation of instances of re-arrest and/or re-incarceration among participating returning ex-offenders. Recidivism data and the established baselines will be the basis of comparative outcome analyses that will be conducted by the evaluator on an interim basis. This data is required to comply with DOJ GPRA performance measures relative to recidivism rates among the participating ex-offenders. 

  • Outcome Evaluation Question. What are participating e-offender perceptions of program services? (Data Sources: Staff Interviews, Client Focus Group Responses, Client Satisfaction Survey)

    A consumer satisfaction survey will be used to gather information regarding the extent to which participating ex-offenders view received services to be adequate and appropriate to their needs. Separate satisfaction surveys will be developed for the pre-release and post-release services. Participating ex-offenders will also be asked to provide any suggestions they might have for improving these aspects of the program=s services. Dr. Sherman will also conduct focus groups with ex-offenders who are participating in post-release services. These services will be conducted on a quarterly basis and will be implemented after the post-release services have been operational for at least six months. IDHS staff will be consulted on the discussion questions that will be used to structure these focus groups.

Use of Evaluation Data in Continuous Quality Improvement

Communications between Dr. Sherman and IDHS staff and other program stakeholders will be both verbal and written in nature, ranging from telephone contacts and oral presentations to written reports. The analysis of program evaluation data will result in written findings and conclusions, and resultant recommendations intended to improve the program's operational functioning. Interim reports of data analyses will be presented to IDHS staff and other stakeholders on at least a quarterly basis. These reports will begin with demographic and descriptive data, and will include outcome analyses as soon as a sufficient level of data is available. Reports will also include summaries of consumer satisfaction survey responses and focus groups. Results from analysis of program evaluation data will be combined with information obtained from on-going communications with IDHS staff and other project stakeholders in the development of conclusions regarding program implementation and functioning. On-going recommendations intended to improve program functioning will be developed as indicated from these conclusions, and included as part of interim program evaluation reports.