Benchmarking Study

Director: Shelley MacDermid, professor, Department of Child Development and Family Studies at Purdue University

Co-Director: Donna Lero, associate professor of family studies, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Staff: Autumn Furey Johnson, graduate research assistant
Chiung-Ya Tang, graduate research assistant
Linda Hawkins, research associate

Funding: Internal funding from the Center for Families and the Centre for Families Work and Well-being

Term of Project: May 2001-April 2003

Description: This project grew out of suggestions generated at the 2000 meeting of the Center for Families advisory council. Autumn Furey Johnson, the center’s graduate assistant at the time, had a strong interest in this project and took on some leadership responsibilities in designing and implementing the study. Another graduate assistant, Chiung-Ya Tang, provided valuable help in coding and analyzing data.

Data were collected in three ways. First, the Web sites of each center were reviewed and coded for the content of their mission and their activities. Next, the director of each center was sent a survey asking them for detailed information about their staffing and finances. Finally, about 12 directors were interviewed by telephone and asked questions about their perspectives on collaborations, plans for the future, and challenges they face. About 130 centers were included in the database for the study; approximately 25 provided detailed financial information.

Evidence of Impact: We believe this is the first study of its type. Centers for children and families have become much more common in recent years, but little is known about them as a group.

Once the study was complete, we distributed it to all participants; we may consider conducting a similar study every five years or so as a service to the field and a learning opportunity for us. It is even possible that centers would pay for participating, if they felt that our product was useful.

We presented the results, A Benchmarking Study of Centers for Families and Children (pdf), at the 2002 National Council on Family Relations annual meeting in Houston, Texas. It earned an Outstanding Poster Award from the organization’s Education and Enrichment Section.