Evanston funds 61 social services programs at a cost of nearly $4 million a year, but can’t yet consistently track how effective they are.

That was the conclusion of a budget report to aldermen this week from Deputy City Manager Kimberly Richardson.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz asked Richardson to conduct a comprehensive review of the social service programs to begin to implement performance measures based on needs and outcomes and improve service delivery systems and funding allocatoin.

But Richardson says the effort has faced challenges because of inconsistent data collection, a lack of information about how easy it is for people to find the services they need and the distribution of social service programs across several city departments.

Richardson’s report says the city operates:

  • 21 programs for seniors at a cost of $541,141.
  • 7 programs for youths and young adults at a cost of $1,465,981.
  • 5 general assistance programs at a cost of $779,937.
  • 12 human services programs at a cost of $227,873.

It also spends $866,821 contracting out other social services programs to a total of 16 different non-profit agencies.

While the social service programs represent just over 1 percent of total city spending, Bobkiewicz says Evanston spends proportionately more on such programs than most other suburban communities.

He says he anticipates making some recommendations for reductions in social services spending in the 2019 budget propsal he’ll release early next month.

And he says he wants to develop better measures of program effectiveness in time to consider further program consolidation for the 2020 budget.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Social Services spending by Evanston

    Providing social services locally has always been one of the factors that makes Evanston what it is and different from our neigboring communities.  

    1. Social services spending…

      …while I agree that social services spending enhances our community and it supports many important initiatives, I also believe that there should be improved metrics to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the programs. How do we know if the programs are effective? How do we know they are working? And this evaluation likely should included both qualitative and quantitative metrics.

      We’ve witnessed Evanston’s Educational Reform initiatives at both D65 and D202 for over a decade with little improvement in results. Both Administrations have been reluctant to provide performance based metrics and a framework to evaluate success BEFORE many of these initiatives have been implemented. How do they or we know if they are working? In Evanston we spend a lot of money on hopes and dreams. But are we really effectively helping people who need  the help? 

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