Engaging the community in developing and implementing a program evaluation can improve the quality and sustainability of the program. However, several challenges must be overcome to ensure an appropriate and effective evaluation. First, it is critical to have all stakeholders at the table from the conceptualization of the evaluation through implementation, analysis, and dissemination of the evaluation’s results. Second, adequate organizational structures and resources are essential to engage the community in the evaluation, conduct it, and analyze and disseminate the results (see Chapter 4). Third, an evaluation that appropriately engages the community has the many benefits described in this chapter, but it takes more time than an evaluation conducted without community input. Fourth, different work styles and institutional cultures may make it difficult to develop or follow through on shared expectations or the meaningful reporting of results. Fifth, it is important that all persons involved understand that although the evaluation may identify problems and limitations that make them uncomfortable, addressing those issues can contribute to the program’s improvement. Finally, an appropriate evaluation design and methodology should be used.
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