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Evaluation Measures for Early Childhood Health Promotion Programs

It is important to select appropriate evaluation measures — also called indicators — when evaluating an early childhood health promotion program. Evaluation measures will align with the type of evaluation being conducted and will provide the information needed to answer the identified research questions. Evaluation measures should connect to the program's logic model and should also be reflected in the evaluation plan, which describes the methods that will be used to collect, analyze, and report evaluation findings. Evaluation measures can be quantitative or qualitative.

Rural communities can identify appropriate evaluation measures from a range of sources, including other existing early childhood health promotion programs. One source is Healthy People 2030, which provides measurable objectives addressing infant health and safety, children's health and well-being, and women's health related to pregnancy and childbirth.

Process measures address program implementation and provide information on the program's functioning and activities. Examples of process measures for evaluating early childhood health promotion programs include:

  • Characteristics of program participants (age, sex, race/ethnicity, education level)
  • Number and type of services provided (classes, home visits)
  • Participant satisfaction with the program
  • Staff perception and satisfaction with the program

Outcome measures address program effects and provide information on the program's results or impacts on participants. Examples of outcome measures for evaluating early childhood health promotion programs include:

  • Program participation or enrollment
  • Safe infant sleep environment
  • Breastfeeding of infants under 6 months old
  • Adherence to schedule of well-child visits
  • Car seat use
  • Child's intake of fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious foods
  • Amount of child physical activity
  • Parental knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to nutrition and physical activity
  • Changes in child body mass index
  • Child scores on mental health scales

The appropriate indicators for evaluating early childhood health promotion programs will differ depending on the program's setting, goals, and evaluation objectives.

Resources to Learn More

Design and Methods for Evaluating an Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Program in the Childcare Setting
Describes the research design and methods for conducting an obesity prevention study in the child care setting to determine the effectiveness of a parent and teacher intervention — Healthy Caregivers Children (HC2) — supporting children's nutrition and physical activity. Covers curriculum lessons for the child and nutrition gatekeeper, technical assistance with food modifications, and policy development for dietary requirements.
Author(s): Natale, R., Hapeman Scott, S., Messiah, S.E., et al.
Citation: BMC Public Health, 13, 78
Date: 1/2013

Early Childhood Obesity Prevention (ECOP) Impact Evaluation Plan
Examines the impact of an early childhood obesity prevention (ECOP) program using eleven strategies across three sectors: healthcare systems, public health, and childcare settings. Covers logic models, action plans, and an impact evaluation plan to guide implementation of ECOP in various settings.
Organization(s): Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Date: 8/2013

Getting To Outcomes for Home Visiting: How to Plan, Implement, and Evaluate a Program in Your Community to Support Parents and Their Young Children
Details a ten step process to assist communities with planning, implementing, and evaluating home visiting programs designed to help parents address the challenges of parenting by matching families with professionals trained in developing parenting skills.
Author(s): Mattox, T., Hunter, S. B., Kilburn, M. R., & Wiseman, S. H.
Date: 2013