SEI consulted with California’s First 5 Northwest Region at a critical time. The region faced increased demands for accountability, legislative attacks on funding, and a pending statewide ballot measure to redirect a significant amount of First 5 funding to fill state budget gaps. But we embraced these challenges, and applied our vast experience in consulting support for First 5 Commissions and special expertise in counties with small populations in rural areas.
The project was substantial in scale. The region has ten counties with a combined size larger than the state of South Carolina, each with unique characteristics ranging from population differences to geographic challenges.
SEI worked individually with each county to conduct a comprehensive assessment of their systems for evaluating First 5-funded programs. Based on the assessment results, we customized technical assistance to meet each county’s needs and strengthen their evaluation systems. We created an electronic toolkit that enabled all of the counties to share in the benefits of technical assistance provided to other counties in the region. In a post-project survey, all of the counties indicated that the evaluation system assessment process was useful for their county and 90% said they have more confidence in the First 5 evaluation system as a result of the project.
We also prepared a first-ever regional impact report, which presented what First 5 has accomplished for children and families in the region. It was one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of reports that had been done on First 5. But officials in California deemed it one of the very best. The report has become a model for other regions in the state, and has helped First 5 Children and Families Commissions to tell the story of their achievements.
In the end, SEI delivered. We showed the value of First 5 on the lives of children and families throughout the region, while concurrently building the evaluation capacity of each county in the region. Our work with the First 5 Northwest Region is proof that every client realizes tangible benefits for their investment in SEI services.