Integrating spatial, temporal, referral problem and demographic approaches to establish systematic baseline data to inform future evaluations at the Pietermaritzburg Child and Family Centre.
This exploratory retrospective record review extending from 1975 – 2013 of the Pietermaritzburg Child and Family Centre (hereafter referred to as the “CFC”) aimed to create a database to electronically capture CFC records to generate descriptive statistics, and the create CFC user profiles utilising multiple data analysis methodologies in order to create baseline data to inform future program evaluations. To date, no formal program evaluation has been conducted by the CFC, resulting in programs being launched without the backing of systematic and empirical data used to inform decisions. Data driven decision making is imperative when deciding on resource allocation to ensure maximum derived benefits. The study sample totalled 1974 records from the past three decades since CFC inception in 1975. These records were captured electronically in a Microsoft Access database. SPSS and ArcGIS were used to analyse the data to create service user profiles, and gather baseline data to inform future Needs Assessments and Program Evaluations. The study found temporal changes in CFC user demographics, referral problems, socio-economic standing, and referral schools since inception in 1975. The study explored, using geographic information software, client distribution of demographics, residence, referral problem, and CFC service reach, and found that there are significant geographical variations in each of these constructs. The geographic variations, together with the statistical findings highlight the importance of establishing Monitoring and Evaluation systems in order to stay relevant to the needs of CFC users. Further, findings suggest a tailored approach to CFC program development and focus, depending on future CFC priorities.