This is a summary report on the first phase of an evaluation of VictimConnect, a nationwide helpline for crime victims and victim service providers, which focuses on its evaluability, using these findings to strengthen the evaluation’s research capacity and developing a plan for implementation and outcome evaluations.
This summary of the first phase of the evaluation is supplemented by the resources of the VictimConnect Evaluation Toolkit, which are briefs on the seven components of this formative evaluation. If funded, the next phases of the VictimConnect evaluation will begin in 2022. It will involve a comprehensive implementation evaluation and outcome evaluation of VictimConnect. The first phase of the evaluation, called a “formative evaluation,” typically occurs during the earlier years of a program’s development and implementation. It assesses whether the program at issue is feasible and appropriate for its intended purpose and target population, and it also identifies improvements needed before a program undergoes a subsequent “summative” evaluation of its effectiveness. A summative evaluation judges a program’s effectiveness after it has been established as ready and appropriate for such assessment. Formative evaluation activities focused on listening and learning about VictimConnect in its initial form and then developing plans for supportive research capacity-building and the most rigorous outcome and implementation evaluations feasible. The evaluability assessment activities resulted in an understanding of VictimConnect’s operations and objectives and its conceptual logic model, which resulted in clarification of VictimConnect’s foundational theoretical framework and literature, refinement of its logic model components, and a comprehensive summary of VictimConnect operations. The overall conclusion of the formative evaluation is that Victim Connect serves a sizable and diverse number of visitors sufficient to support rigorous evaluation of its effectiveness, particularly via softphone, online chatting, and web-search connections. 36 references