This article provides an overview of an internal evaluation model in a children's mental health center as well as practical examples of evaluation activities. The overview includes a rationale for the positioning of evaluation within the organization's structure; the primary approaches to evaluation; and the application of three major approaches to evaluation and their operational implications. In summary, internal evaluation is seen to be an integral management support function directed at the planning, development, and assessment of program operations and outcomes.
Since all programs operate within an organizational setting, the utility of evaluation activities can be enhanced by considering an organization's structure, evaluation readiness, and the related functions of evaluators. This article focuses on the application of a set of complementary principles derived from the evaluation literature using three projects as case studies. Two of the projects involved large Canadian health-related organizations, while the third focused on the evaluation needs of a medium-size social service agency.