Home Visitation: A Case Study of Evaluation at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation employed an evaluation-focused strategy over more than a decade in a particular child development service area–the home visitation approach–that seems to have had a substantial impact on the field and illustrates several important issues in philanthropic use and practice of evaluation. While the Packard Foundation was in some ways uniquely suited to undertake an evaluation-focused strategy, the story of its involvement in home visitation unfolded one decision at a time–in a process not very different from the internal workings of other foundations and in organizational circumstances similar in many ways to those of other foundations. The Packard Foundation also confronted many of the issues that typically arise when foundations sponsor evaluation. This paper presents a case study of the Foundation’s evaluation-focused strategy.

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