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Evaluation report

2002 JAM: Strategic Review of Coalition for Better Parenting



Author: Wint-Smith, C.

Executive summary

Background:

The Coalition for Better Parenting (CBP), an umbrella organisation of agencies that provides services and support for parents and families in Jamaica, conducted a Strategic Review in 2001. For the years 1997-2001, UNICEF Jamaica and the Government of Jamaica, through the Ministry of Education, supported the CBP. As this GoJ/UNICEF Country Programme drew to an end, and the focus, strategies and support from UNICEF were to be evaluated and modified, a review of the CBP was necessary. Further, and equally as important, because the demands on the entity were increasing due to the public's need to answer and address many social concerns, the CBP needed to assess its own activities and operations, and devise future plans.

Purpose/Objective:

To assess the overall mission, structure, and programmes of the Coalition for Better Parenting (CBP), with a view to ascertaining effectiveness and revising strategies.

Methodology:

The review was conducted primarily in three parts:
A. Focus Group of eight CBP members
B. Specialised interviews and discussions with CBP chairperson, past chairperson, CBP staff and representative from one of the member organisations
C. CBP Secretariat interviews

Findings and Conclusions:

The overall impression of the Coalition for Better Parenting at this point in its development (November 2001) is that of an organisation whose existence is seen as vital to the country, that could attract national and international support, represents a wide range of services and has positive ideas and proposed activities. However, the CBP can also, in some respects, be seen as somewhat in over its head. That is not to say that, as an organisation, it is ineffective. All parties seem to recognise the value of an entity that can guide and influence parenting issues and concerns in Jamaica.

One of the priority areas identified was as a support for member agencies - "To facilitate member agency capacity building towards strengthening parenting initiatives." The CBP has not demonstrated sufficiently and consistently its full value and worth in this respect to its membership, some of whom are still a bit unclear or doubtful about the CBP's capability. While this may be the case, there is also a sense that member agencies have not made sufficient effort to address these concerns and to make the CBP really their own. Most efforts have rested with a few individuals and agencies that are committed to seeing the CBP succeed. While this is highly commended and appreciated in one breath, it is also seen as a top-heavy or unilateral leadership style.

These polarised views, where one activity or approach is seen as positive, then conversely seen as negative, seem to run through the relations and operations in the CBP.

Some weaker areas of operation that repeatedly emerged were the lack of an independent bank account, its non-registered legal status, dependence on one source of funding and the skills and turnover of Secretariat staff. There was concern that, in addition to the above, the perceived lack of commitment by some agencies to the CBP as well as the overwhelming social and economic challenges in the country could work against it. Sustainability - that is what everyone is concerned about and ways to achieve it. There is a sense that agencies may be reluctant to invest too much energy and time to an entity whose future and stability they are unsure of. However, the commitment of the few that have persevered over the years should be seen as an indication of what could be achieved with even greater support.

The Coalition is not a perfect organisation, however, it has come a long way, with many successes under its belt, and it certainly seems to have the seeds of great potential. The major challenge now is to harness the necessary resources to enable it to operate at or near its potential. This includes not only financial and material resources, but also human resources, by way of staff, diversified Executive members, member agency and Working Group representation. Establishing greater external partnerships should be actively pursued in an effort to achieve this.

This review has highlighted, articulated and documented much of what many (members, Working Groups, Executive, even funders) already know or are vaguely aware of. The CBP is in a position not unlike many other service agencies in the country, struggling to keep projects going, finding and securing scarce funding to support not only projects and programmes, but staff, office space etc. The review has underscored areas of operation that need to be addressed in order to achieve the results desired. The process of conducting the review in itself seemed to instill a sense (in some respondents) that the CBP was really 'getting serious', taking stock of feelings, ideas and visions.

The recommendations coming out of this review should be shared and discussed (with the CBP membership, Working Groups, members of the Executive and staff of the Secretariat), with a serious intention for follow-up and implementation over a prescribed time frame. This will require someone, or a group, to monitor and effect periodic re-evaluations. Monitoring and evaluation is an area of relative weakness, therefore the CBP must ensure that the necessary training and/or personnel are in place to ensure success in this area.

The members of the CBP should be encouraged, rather than discouraged, with the findings in this review and analysis. There are certainly external factors that will impact on any agency trying to survive. With the range and number of individuals and agencies at the CBP's disposal, there is every possibility that the CBP will become a much stronger and effective organisation - one that supports rather than competes with its members, that provides the necessary programmes and other resources that will enhance their service delivery. It is for the CBP to now use this review to chart its course over the next few years. The Micro and Macro Management Plan of the 2000 Situation Assessment and Analysis of Parenting in Jamaica (Ricketts) should be consulted as well as the details of this review. Detailed projects and programmes as well as strategies should be further explored and discussed. Parenting issues will always be part of society; there will always be new parents with new challenges, or old issues in a new environment. The need for an agency like the CBP, therefore, will always find a place. It is the challenge of the CBP and its members to make the organisation. To make it not only reactive and responsive, but pro active and guiding. With regular reviews, attention and commitment, this can be achieved.

Recommendations:

Review suggested actions to be taken in four broad areas: capacity building; sustainability; monitoring, evaluation and research; and, information, education, advocacy and social mobilization.



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Report information

Date:
2002

Region:
TACRO

Country:
Jamaica

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
ECD - Policy

Partners:
Ministry of Education

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2002/001

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