The focus of this question is to consider the methodological, cultural and ethical issues of social work research when planning an evaluation study. Suppose you are a researcher in the Ministry of Social and Family Development and your Director (who is not research trained) appointed you to evaluate the effectiveness of the Youth GO! Program (YGP), which is funded by the Ministry. The Program aims to tackle youth delinquency by strengthening early interventions on youth-at-risk. The Program works through Family Service Centres (FSCs) to target at-risk youth in the community who are not receiving any form of support. Youth GO! Program (YGP)1, a two-year pilot community-based Program. The key objectives of the YGP are to support at-risk youth so that they will be meaningfully engaged either in their studies or work; be crime-free; and able to problem-solve and be resilient individuals. The YGP will target at-risk youth from 12 to 21 years of age, and will exclude current clients of the Enhanced STEP-UP, Guidance Program and StreetWise Program. The four main groups of at-risk youth are:
a) Out-of-school youth who are not engaged in meaningful work;
b) School students with high absenteeism and/or Youth who opted or dropped out of the of Enhanced STEP-UP, the Guidance Program and the StreetWise Program;
c) Youth served with the second Youth Hanging Out Late Letters (YHOLs);
d) Youth who have completed the Enhanced STEP-UP, the Guidance Program or the StreetWise Program but require further support upon completion of the Program.
YGP will be a collaborative effort among MOE, MCYS and MHA. A YGP service provider (FSC) to be appointed by MCYS will work with five selected secondary schools and five primary schools and the Police to reach out to the targeted youth to bring them under the Program. The YGP youth workers from the provider will then convene regularly with the Police liaison officer, representatives from the youth’s school and the Community Development Councils representatives and, if needed, the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and the REACH team from the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), to discuss the action plan for the individual youth.
Your Director wants to know:
(1) whether the youths who went through this two-year Program are more meaningfully engaged either in their studies or work compared to their peers who did not go through the Program, and
(2) the effectiveness of the Program in keeping these at-risk youths crime-free. Your research teammate suggested adopting a before-after design to measure the effectiveness of the Program.
Write a 1,500 word research proposal, explaining how you plan to conduct a summative evaluation to assess the two objectives outlined above. Your proposal should address the following:
- Examine the research bias in adopting the before-after design proposed by your teammate. (Hint: There is a serious threat to internal validity in this design).
- Describe an appropriate design that you recommend for the Program evaluation. Justify your recommendation by explaining how your proposed design overcomes the research bias in the before-after design as well as other possible threats to internal validity.
- Briefly state your assumptions for the implementation of this research design. (The reality is often more messy and complex).
- Examine the issue of cultural competence and ethics when designing the procedures for the evaluation study. Discuss five (5) research procedures you will put in place to ensure that the study is conducted in a way that is sensitive to and appropriate for at risk youths.
The question belongs to Sociology and it discusses about writing a research proposal on methodological, cultural and ethical issues of social work research when planning an evaluation study.
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