Center for Applied Research & Evaluation

View Examples of Our Work

Project Highlights

The Center for Applied Research and Evaluation (CARE) has a well-established history of performing evaluations and research projects with community groups, faith-based organizations, non-profits, and governmental entities. In particular, CARE has performed numerous evaluations and research projects for and in partnership with state entities such as Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund, Department for Children and Families, Kansas Health Foundation, Kansas Leadership Center, Kansas Association of Community Foundations, Greater Kansas City Health Care Foundation, W.T. Grant Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control, and the National Institutes of Health.

Highlighted Recent Projects Include:


CARE has had a long history of performing evaluation and research projects through KDADS-Medicaid funding including the following:

  • Consumer Run Organization (CRO) Recovery Principles Focus Groups – In 2014, CARE and the WSU Center for Behavioral Health Initiatives started a collaborative process with CRO’s to assist in mapping the incorporation of recovery principles into CRO activities. Staff from the two centers led focus groups with CRO members across the state to determine what activities CROs do to support recovery and how those activities map onto the principles of recovery as identified by SAMHSA.

  • Youth Leadership in Kansas (YLinK) Focus Groups and Outcome Evaluation. The Community Engagement Institute was awarded a grant from KDADS in 2012 to provide technical assistance and evaluation for the YLinK initiative, which offers youth leadership and recovery opportunities to youth with a mental illness and their families. In order to gather information on how the groups operate and what members think of them, CARE researchers conducted focus groups with eight YLinK sites across the states and will be doing a new round of focus groups this summer (2016). Additionally, CARE has been engaged in a multi-year study of the impact of involvement in YLinK on youth and family outcomes (e.g., positive youth development, leadership, mental health, and family functioning). Currently CARE has two articles in development regarding this unique approach to leadership development and recovery for youth who’ve experienced mental health challenges.

  • Trauma-Informed Systems of Care research. CARE has conducted the following research on efforts to enhance trauma-informed systems of care across Kansas.


    In an effort to gather stakeholder input and ideas regarding consistent elements of trauma/re-traumatization, and potential ways to create systemic change through trauma-informed systems of care, CARE and a statewide Trauma Advisory Group (TAG) collaborated to design, facilitate and analyze data from a series of seven focus groups across Kansas. Out of the focus group findings, CARE also facilitated the development of “concept maps” that illustrate the flow from individual and systemic traumatization to steps systems can take to reduce trauma and promote healing.


    CARE conducts organizational assessments using multiple measures with local and state organizations aimed at comparing the level of trauma-informed awareness and practices at pre- and post-training from the Center for Behavioral Health Initiatives. These assessments help organizations identify specific strengths and needs for attention related to trauma-informed awareness or practices.


Starting in 2013, CARE has provided research and evaluation assistance to the Home and Community-Based Services division of KDADS. This assistance has included designing and administering surveys of HCBS providers regarding compliance with CSS HCBS setting rules, gathering input from consumers, including caregivers and family members, regarding proposed changes to HCBS waivers, and conducting literature reviews. The information from the surveys and literature reviews are being used by KDADS to help shape their efforts to serve Medicaid clients across Kansas.


  • Kansas Department of Health and Environment Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Research Project. KDHE partnered with CARE to conduct a multi-faceted research project regarding participants of WIC, health disparities, effectiveness, administrative structure and model programs. CARE was provided de-identified WIC participant data in order to compare against national data from the same years regarding demographics, health profiles of participants, and health disparities. Additionally, CARE conducted literature reviews on common administrative structures and model programs that may be helpful to KDHE. CARE also conducted focus groups and interviews with stakeholders, including WIC recipients, local providers, grocers, and medical professionals to gather their input on the effectiveness of and suggested changes to WIC.

  • Kansas Power of the Positive Collective Impact Evaluation. Kansas Power of the Positive is an unfunded CDC-supported initiative to reduce adverse childhood experiences (ACES) in Kansas through collective impact focused on systemic policy change. CARE has been the evaluator for this collective impact initiative and regularly gathers archival data to document indicators or ACES and uses Outcome Mapping as a tool to track significant activities and changes in systems across Kansas.

  • Riley/Pottawatomie Counties Community Assessments/other community assessments. CARE conducted a community needs assessment for Riley and Pottawatomie Counties using multiple methods to gather information and community input on topics such as physical and mental health, social issues, children and youth, education, aging, housing, and others related to the quality of life in these counties. CARE designed a community survey, which over 1,700 persons completed, and conducted more than 20 key leader interviews and multiple focus groups for this project. The full report for Riley County is publicly available. CARE has performed similar community assessments for a number of communities and continues to specialize in this service to assist communities and organizations in identifying the needs and resources for those they serve.

  • Kansas Health Foundation Tobacco Use Survey of Mental Health Consumers. Recognizing the significant impact on health and well-being of the disproportionate tobacco use among mental health consumers, the Kansas Health Foundation requested CARE to conduct a survey of mental health consumers to explore attitudes and behaviors related to tobacco use and cessation attempts. CARE conducted surveys and interviews with 100 participants. Findings from the surveys were provided to the Kansas Health Foundation Fellows, who used the results to guide actions to reduce the number of smokers and deleterious impact among mental health consumers.


  • Wichita Youth Empowerment Partnership (WYEP) Participatory Community Assessment and Arts-Based Youth Participatory Research Project. For three years, CARE provided mini-grants, technical assistance, and participatory research consultation to a collaborative of 10 African American faith and community-based organizations in the Wichita area dedicated to strengthening youth-adult partnerships and youth-empowerment for the prevention of violence, substance abuse and other adolescent problem behaviors As part of this project, CARE assisted the partner organizations in conducting a participatory community assessment, which included the collection, analysis and interpretation of local archival data (e.g., crime statistics, economic indicators, substance abuse rates, etc.) and youth-led arts-based qualitative assessment of youth perceptions of the community. This youth-oriented participatory action research project received national recognition from the Administration for Children and Families as a model of youth leadership and empowerment.

  • DELTA Teen Dating Violence Prevention Project Empowerment Evaluation. CARE researchers acted as the Empowerment Evaluators for the Centers for Disease Control-funded DELTA teen dating violence prevention project from 2006 to 2011. In that capacity, CARE researchers helped DELTA communities across Kansas develop logic models, theories of change, and evaluation plans. CARE Researchers developed instruments, including fidelity tracking forms, youth surveys, school staff surveys, and policy change tracking tools for the communities as needed. Researchers also assisted DELTA communities in identify risk and protective factors for relationship violence as well as best practices for prevention. Finally, CARE researchers assisted in performing analyses and interpretation of data, while also teaching representatives of the communities to perform these tasks in the future.


CARE managed a multi-method program evaluation for the Kansas Leadership Center (KLC) and was responsible for coordinating all evaluation efforts related to short-term and intermediate outcomes for the nearly 1,000 participants in KLC programs each year. Evaluation efforts included end of program feedback, and short- and long-term follow-up with participants. The purposes of the evaluation were to explore what participants experienced during the program, what participants learned, what participants struggled with (and continued to struggle with), how participants used what they learned (or not), and how KLC could best support participants following their program experience. In addition, CARE conducted evaluation on behalf of community leadership programs located throughout the state and continues to provide leadership development evaluations for various organizations and communities.