This month, a guest post from Jennifer Choban, a former grant writer at a not-for-profit service provider, with suggestions for ensuring equity in access to services.
I had just finished delivering a workshop on literacy to a group of 50 child care providers. As I passed out the evaluation forms, I felt satisfied that workshop had gone well, but one hand after another went up. The women seated before me were of various ages and various ethnicities, but it seemed that they all found the question on the evaluation form, “What race do you identify as?” as unnecessary and obnoxious. I confessed that in the past when confronted with the “race question,” I had at times ticked “other” and then written in “human”. (Looking back now, this strikes me as a rather presumptuous action for a white person to take.)
However, there is a very good reason for collecting and evaluating demographic data on the people served by grant funds. Comparing what we know of the target population with what we know of the people who actually get served allows us to identify barriers to service or errors in our program design.
Barriers to receiving services can come in many forms – linguistic, geographic, etc. Efforts at outreach may fail if we do not understand how a particular culture networks. The reality on the ground may make a given activity less appropriate for women than for men, as in this example.
Sometimes we overlook these barriers because of inertia – it’s easiest to schedule workshops in the conference room of your own building, even if that’s not a convenient location for everyone. More often, we don’t realize they’re there. Ensuring equitable access to services means we have to look for what’s not working.
If you would like assistance in designing your data collection or evaluating barriers to funded services, please contact me at Kate@katecaldecott.com.au or 0447 227 598.
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