An approach to the evaluation of recovery community organizations

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2023-08
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Walker, Sarah K
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Dorius, Shawn F
Dorius, Cassandra
Zarling, Amie
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Sociology
Abstract
Program evaluation is a crucial process that involves the systematic assessment of programs with the aim of improving social conditions and promoting individual and collective well-being. By conducting evaluations, we can effectively demonstrate the effectiveness of social programs, which in turn influences program decision-making, shapes public policy related to the program's social focus, and often serves as justification for ongoing support and funding. Currently, there is a scarcity of published program evaluations specifically focusing on recovery-oriented systems of care and peer recovery support services offered within Recovery Community Centers (RCCs). To address this gap, a series of evaluations have been proposed. These evaluations include a process evaluation that was initially developed for the Iowa Recovery Community Center Project under the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services, as well as subsequent follow-up evaluations. An outcome evaluation has been designed to be conducted when the Recovery Community Centers have been operational for approximately three years and can generate data to substantiate their expected outcomes. Furthermore, an impact evaluation has been devised to assess the functioning of the Recovery Community Centers after five or more years of delivering peer-delivered recovery support services. These evaluation frameworks are based on existing research that supports the benefits of peer-delivered recovery support services in various settings such as clinical treatment, emergency rooms, and jail diversion programs. Additionally, insights and best practices from the Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery (CCAR) were consulted to inform the evaluation process for Recovery Community Centers. The primary purpose of developing these evaluations is to assess the Iowa RCCs network comprehensively, with the aspiration that they can serve as a model for other networks and contribute to the standardization of RCC evaluation practices. Given the significance and growth of these invaluable resources, it is essential to conduct ongoing evaluation to gauge their implementation and outcomes effectively.
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