Spotlight on CalSWEC's Research and Evaluation

CalSWEC is overhauling some of its Research and Evaluation (R&E) activities following the reorganization of that group, led by Director Sandhya Rao Hermón (right, in photo below), who joined CalSWEC in October 2013. (Read more about the staff.)

New Activities

  • The longitudinal Ecological Model for Workforce Development will guide CalSWEC’s workforce development evaluation and research activities. It incorporates education, in-service training, and organizational supports among other factors, such as student and worker characteristics, in understanding the effectiveness of the social work workforce in providing high-quality service to the children and families they serve.

Previously CalSWEC had organized its evaluation efforts into two tiers, giving the inaccurate appearance of a hierarchy. Tier 1 had focused on evaluation activities at certain critical points, such as 3 and 5 years after graduation. Tier 2 had focused on practice improvement and implementation research.

  • A proposed County Workforce Study will answer questions that were posed by previous studies but also dive deeper to understand the complex inter-relationships between worker and organizational characteristics and case outcomes.

This study puts on hold the study of California’s Public Child Welfare Workforce and the 3- and 5-year follow-up surveys of Title IV-E stipend recipients.

In Phase 1 of the County Workforce Study, CalSWEC is recruiting five to six counties—a mix of small, medium, and large—to test its Ecological Model for Workforce Development. To examine the relationships between worker attitudes and perceptions, and outcomes at the level of children and families, data from the following sources will be integrated:

  1. Responses to a staff survey covering a number of attitudinal, organizational, and demographic questions
  2. Administrative systems (CWS/CMS)
  3. HR systems

Phase 1 is expected to be completed in July 2015. 

In-Service Training Evaluation Activities

CalSWEC is tasked with the evaluation of newly hired workers and supervisors by public agencies at the beginning of Common Core training. At the start of training, new trainees complete a survey that includes demographic questions and questions around worker expectations, social commitment, and goals for the job.  They also complete knowledge tests for select topic areas. The following R & E studies are underway for the In-Service Training Project.

  • Common Core Demographics Survey: Workers who received a Title IV-E stipend and those who did not will be surveyed to identify differences in worker expectations, social commitment, and goals for the job. The survey will be conducted and published in Fiscal Year 2014–2015.
  • Common Core 3.0 Evaluation Plan: A major revision to the Common Core new-hire training currently underway will include components that deepen skills practice in newly hired social workers and also expand the delivery of learning to other modalities. R & E will create an evaluation plan for the Assessment block of the training, which will also be used as a template for the remaining blocks of the Common Core 3.0.

Child Welfare Services-Related Evaluation Activities

In addition to conducting workforce development research and evaluation, R&E also conducts several child welfare services-related evaluation activities. These include practice improvement and implementation research for the improvement of client outcomes. 

About the Staff
Director of Research and Evaluation ­­­­­Sandhya Rao Hermón works closely with CalSWEC's university, county and Regional Training Academy (RTA) partners to evaluate the effectiveness of the Title IV-E Stipend Program and California’s Common Core training for newly hired social workers. Dr. Rao Hermón’s research interests relate to social work workforce development, organizational change, and the evaluation of learning. Her most recent past work has examined the effectiveness of learning and development initiatives for a corporate university. Her prior experience includes researching the evaluation of substance abuse treatment, in particular looking at the role of psychosocial functioning in predicting treatment outcomes.

Data Management Specialist Susan E. Jacquet manages the CalSWEC Student Information System (CSIS) database of CalSWEC students and graduates for the Title IV-E and Mental Health stipend programs. She works with Dr. Rao Hermón on ongoing surveys of California’s MSW students and graduates as well as the development of new research initiatives on outcomes for the efficacy of the Title IV-E program. As staff representative for the CalSWEC Research and Development Committee, Dr. Jacquet is responsible for coordinating CalSWEC’s funded research process and Research Award for MSW Students, from RFP through review of proposals and final awards.

Training and Evaluation Specialist Tenia Davis leads Common Core 3.0 evaluation efforts through the Macro Evaluation Team and the annual convening of National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium (NHSTES). Ms. Davis joined CalSWEC in 2013 as its training and evaluation analyst and in that capacity co-convened the 2014 National Human Services Training Evaluation Symposium (NHSTES), analyzed and prepared a report of the 2013 Common Core Stakeholder Survey Findings to inform revision of Common Core, and prepared a literature review on Childhood Maltreatment Indicators (CMI) to support revision of curriculum for Common Core 3.0. For the Research and Training Network’s evidence-informed webinar series, Ms. Davis co-presented on the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) webinar in October. Ms. Davis earned her M.S.W. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed her undergraduate studies at UC Berkeley. Relevant direct-service experience includes her work with pregnant and parenting youth.

Research and Evaluation Analyst Elizabeth Wroughton joins team

Data Specialist Sokhom Mao assists with curriculum development and training for the In-Service Coordination Project. He is currently focused on collecting and managing data from RTA partners as well as exploring new ways to collect electronic data from them and responding to their data-related inquiries. Mr. Mao is also assisting the Content Development Oversight Group to incorporate feedback from youth and providing input on the revision of Common Core 3.0 and other curriculum relevant to transitional-aged youth, such as AB 12. Mr. Mao holds a B.A. in criminal justice from San Francisco State University. He is passionate about increasing supportive programs and resources for youth in child welfare and  juvenile justice.