Effectiveness is the primary evaluative criterion that should be considered during policy assessment. It can be defined as a measure of the extent to which “an intervention is achieving or has achieved its objectives” (OECD, 2021, p. 52). The analysis of the policy effectiveness is beneficial for determining what factors contributed to the policy achieving or failing to achieve the planned results. In addition, it can help establish positive and negative unintended effects of policy implementation (OECD, 2021). To effectively evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed policy or policy change, it is critical to clearly understand and define the expected outcomes, aims, and objectives (OECD, 2021). Thus, when implementing policy changes to increase resource availability for low to moderate-income families in New York City, the effectiveness can be evaluated by assessing the distribution of resources across different groups.
Efficiency is an evaluative criterion concerned with assessing the value of predicted outcomes. The measure can be defined as “the extent to which the intervention delivers, or is likely to deliver, results in an economic and timely way” (OECD, 2021, p. 58). The economic input can incorporate a broad range of resources, including financial and human resources utilized in policy implementation. The criterion allows evaluation of whether the input of the proposed resources can be justified compared with projected costs. Efficiency evaluation is critical as it is often employed to illustrate the value of the suggested policy or policy change to invested stakeholders, including government agencies, various beneficiaries, and society as a whole (OECD, 2021). Thus, equity measures the befits and burdens of the proposed policy. It should be ensured that the suggested policy benefits the target communities without putting others at a disadvantage. Furthermore, policymakers should guarantee that the financial investment into the project will not outweigh the outcomes.
Sustainability is an effective evaluative criterion for social policies as it aims to assess the policy’s ability to maintain its beneficial effects for the target community long term. Sustainability measure includes the examination of the financial, economic, social, institutional, and, in some cases, environmental capacities of the policy or system (OECD, 2019). Specifically, the criterion allows us to analyze the resilience of the policy over time and evaluate potential risks to its implementation (OECD, 2019). For example, the evaluation of the financial sustainability of the policy can include the estimation of available resources and financial systems that can contribute to the policy application. In addition, the economic feasibility assessment can help determine the legitimacy of using federal and state resources for the proposed policy and its long-term sustainability, considering the current economic situation in the country.
Administrative feasibility is a criterion for evaluating the ease of implementation of the proposed policy or policy changes. The measure considers organizational preparedness and commitment to execute the proposed policy (Selamawit, 2021). Thus, administrative feasibility aims to assess the support shown to the intervention by the management of the involved organizations and their staff. Furthermore, the criterion measures whether the participating organizations have access to the required resources, including “staff, skills, money, training, expertise” (Selamawit, 2021, p. 15). Thus, administrative feasibility evaluates the capacity of the involved agencies to implement the proposed policy.
Political feasibility is a measure for assessing the current political environment to establish whether the proposed policy or substantial changes to existing policies will be accepted by the involved stakeholders, the target communities, and other citizens. For example, the political orientation of the citizens can significantly impact their formal and informal approval of the policy, with supporters of one political party being likely to disapprove of certain initiatives from the opposing party. Policy-makers should be aware of the region’s political climate where the policy is proposed to determine whether the political participants view the intervention as acceptable and appropriate (Selamawit, 2021). Thus, political feasibility shows whether the policy change is likely to be approved by the decision-makers and the general public, including the target communities.
This research will employ qualitative methods of analysis to evaluate the proposed policy alternatives. Specifically, community-based participatory research (CBPR) and focus group research will be implemented to compare the proposed policy change and evaluate outcomes. CBPR is a novel research approach that facilitates the discussion between “a diverse array of individuals and organizations” (Devia et al., 2017, p. 1). This approach will be combined with the focus group method to gather data on the proposed policies and attitudes toward them from the representatives of the target communities. A focus group is a technique “in which a trained moderator organizes and guides a group discussion with six to eight participants around a specific topic” (Henage et al., 2021, p. 117). Although it can be argued that the two methods are similar, the procedures of the focus group technique are better established and can be transferred to CBPR. Nevertheless, both research approaches have advantages and can complement each other. Thus, the focus group method clearly defines the responsibility of a moderator, while CBPR allows the inclusion of organizations and necessitates the inclusion of the members of affected communities into the research.
To evaluate the suggested policy alternatives, focus groups selected from the affected communities will be recruited to discuss each of the proposals. Community representatives will be repurified based on the criterion of family income, with persons from low to moderate-income families residing in New York City being invited to participate in focus groups. Furthermore, single parents with low to moderate income and first-generation immigrants with children will be asked to take part in the research. In addition, representatives from New York City’s Administration for Children Services, Department of Education, Housing Authority, Human Resource Administration, and Child Care and Development Fund will be requested to attend. Each focus group will comprise 8 to 10 individuals led by a moderator and an assistant moderator.
Data collection will be facilitated through focus group talks and close-ended surveys distributed to the participants at the end of the group discussion. The discussion will be led by a moderator who will be tasked with asking each participant scripted questions. However, free discussion will be supported, with participants encouraged to remark and expand on each other’s answers. The focus group discussions will be recorded with the informed consent of the participants and later transcribed for analysis. It should be noted that the data sets on administrative feasibility will be collected strictly from the representatives of New York City’s Administration for Children Services, Child Care and Development Fund, and other relevant organizations.
The collected data will be analyzed to determine participant attitudes to the proposed policy changes with consideration to their effectiveness, efficacy, sustainability, and administrative and political feasibility. The information gathered from discussions and surveys will be coded to reflect participants’ opinions and beliefs. The evaluative criteria will be operationalized during this stage, with clear indicators assigned to each criterion to facilitate the research. For example, the measure of administrative feasibility will include the following indicators: beliefs about top management’s interest in policy change, the approximate number of personnel, and staff training and expertise. Several indicators describing the selected criteria will be identified and coded to analyze the received data.
It is expected that most of the programs will be positively evaluated in all the selected criteria. Expansion of extracurricular, childcare, and housing voucher programs and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is estimated to be positively evaluated within the effectiveness, efficiency, and political feasibility measures. It is projected that the creation of programs aimed at assistance for single parents and immigrants living in New York will be positively assessed within all criteria. The expansion of the Early Head Start and Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to children over the age of five is projected to be evaluated positively in terms of effectiveness and political feasibility. However, the program extension is likely to be negatively assessed regarding efficiency, sustainability, and administrative feasibility. It can be argued that the proposal to extend the scheme will not be positively evaluated due to the existence of other programs, for example, food vouchers, aimed at helping low-income families with children. Similarly, the Child Tax Credit and tax exemption are expected to be negatively evaluated in terms of payment but positively evaluated regarding eligibility.
Devia, C., Baker, E. A., Sanchez-Youngman, S., Barnidge, E., Golub, M., Motton, F., Muhammad, M., Ruddock, C., Vicuña, B., & Wallerstein, N. (2017). Advancing system and policy changes for social and racial justice: Comparing a rural and urban community-based participatory research partnership in the U.S. International Journal for Equity in Health, 16(1), 1–14.
Henage, C. B., Ferreri, S. P., Schlusser, C., Hughes, T. D., Armistead, L. T., Kelley, C. J., Niznik, J. D., Busby-Whitehead, J., & Roberts, E. (2021). Transitioning focus group research to a videoconferencing environment: A descriptive analysis of interactivity. Pharmacy, 9(3), 117–126.
OECD. (2019). Better criteria for better evaluation: Revised evaluation criteria definitions and principles for use. OECD Publishing.
OECD. (2021). Applying evaluation criteria thoughtfully. OECD Publishing.
Selamawit, W. (2021). Basis for policy formulation: Systematic policy analysis or intuitive policy decision? Journal of Public Administration and Policy Research, 13(1), 11–19.