An important part of planning and implementing a new diversion program is the development of an evaluation plan so that its outputs and impacts can be evaluated. Early engagement with a research partner can help insure that the plan is sound, employs an appropriate methodology, has identified appropriate performance measures, and is collecting and preserving relevant data. Putting an evaluation plan together and having good data collection practices in place early on ensures that a program will be well poised to be evaluated.
Such a plan could track the numbers and types of cases that are being diverted, the case outcomes, revocations and sentences imposed, participant demographic information, social services mandates imposed and completed, community service hours performed, restitution collected, and information regarding the program’s costs and benefits.
Two useful tools for building an evaluation plan are a program logic model and case processing flowchart. A logic model helps identify a program’s goals, inputs, outputs, and outcomes. A case processing flowchart helps identify existing business processes and they may change with the new program.