Creating Standard Measures for Child Advocacy Centers

Across North Carolina and South Carolina, children's advocacy centers provide a way for communities to respond to children who have been sexually, emotionally or physically abused. To help children's advocacy centers measure their impact, The Duke Endowment contracted with Innovation Network in Washington, D.C., to guide three dozen North Carolina and South Carolina centers through an evaluation process. This initiative is closed.


Children's advocacy centers help children and their caregivers find the help they need to reduce the impact of trauma. Focused on what's best for the child, advocacy centers bring together collaborative partners — including medical and mental health providers, child protective services, law enforcement officers and prosecutors — to provide services.

Need to Measure Performance and Impact

In June 2004, for a trial period, The Duke Endowment added children's advocacy centers in North Carolina and South Carolina to its group of eligible grantees. The centers had all met national accreditation standards, but initial grant requests showed little agreement regarding what constituted a good outcome and how it should be measured.

If children's advocacy centers were to become ongoing Endowment grantees, there needed to be a way to demonstrate their impact on children and families served. The Endowment wanted centers to measure impact and show how they make a significant difference in their communities.

Identifying Standard Measures

Figuring out what to measure, however, wasn't easy. Children's advocacy centers shape themselves to the needs of individual communities, so they all work differently. Some agencies see 1,000 children a year. Some, in rural areas, see only 50 children in a year.

What's more, approximately one-third of the participating centers had little to no experience with evaluation, while just over half had moderate experience.


In 2004, The Duke Endowment contracted with Innovation Network, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., to help design a consistent evaluation process.

Over three years, Innovation Network provided training and one-on-one technical assistance to more than 30 centers in North Carolina and South Carolina. Through workshops and conversations that bridged state lines, the groups successfully developed a workable logic model, a common set of outcomes, and a set of standardized data collection instruments.

The Endowment grant also included training in a computer software program that helped the centers collect and manage data, and the Endowment paid for a first-year subscription. The software program, developed by the National Children's Alliance, allowed the centers to input information into a common database and generate uniform reports.

Participating Sites

View the list of child advocacy centers that participated in the original project.


Area of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

Program Area

  • Child & Family Well-Being

Grantmaking Status

This program ran from 2004 to 2007

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities