Evaluating Youth Drop-In Programs: The Utility of Process Evaluation Methods

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In North America, neighbourhood youth centres typically offer essential community-based programs to disadvantaged and marginalized populations. In addition to providing pro-social and supportive environments, they provide a host of educational and skill-development opportunities and interventions that build self-esteem, increase positive life relationships and experiences, and address social determinants of health. However, evaluators of such centres often have to work with moving changes in temporal components (i.e., service users, services, programs, and outcomes) that are unique and idiosyncratic to the mandate of the centre. Although there is an abundance of research on youth programs in general, there is a void in the literature on drop-in programs specifically, which this study aims to address. The lack of empirical research in this area inhibits knowledge about the processes of these centres. For this reason, the article concludes that process evaluation methods may be effectively used to substantiate the practice skills, knowledge, and managerial competencies of those responsible for program implementation.

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