Pre-site Review Preparation

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Introduction

            Site reviews may be conducted for a variety of purposes. However, more than one purpose may be served by careful planning. To facilitate the process of the QES, planning should begin several months before the review actually takes place. Careful attention should be given to team selection, the self-assessment process, evidence of compliance with program criteria, and the assembly of orientation information and material to be forwarded to the site review team.

            Effective planning is a broad-based effort, often involving UAP administration, faculty, staff, and Consumer Advisory Committee. Other participants in planning may include key university officials, other funding agencies, the State Developmental Disabilities Council, and the State Protection and Advocacy system. The planning process should also include consumers, family members, and local providers. Full participation of the UAP Director and key personnel are essential to the planning process.

            A comprehensive site review, preceded by a systematic self-assessment, should examine various aspects of the UAP's organization, essential program components, fiscal accountability and relationships both within and outside the university. The review should be designed to provide team members first hand information from relevant individuals and groups and a process by which information and points of view can be exchanged (Keeran, 1983).

            Pre-assessment activities should start by developing a clear statement of the objectives of the site review, including what the program expects to learn, what questions are expected to be answered, what standards or program criteria are to be validated, and what technical assistance or consultation is desired. From the stated purpose and objectives of the site review, other pre-site review preparations can be developed, including the procedures and schedule, products to be reviewed, activities to be observed, and interviews to be conducted. The selection of the site review team and the unique expertise of each member should be closely related to the purpose and objectives of the visit.

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Selecting the Site Review Team

            The usefulness and validity of the site review is dependent, in part, upon the selection of team members who are asked to participate. The team should consist of individuals with well-established credentials in the administration of a UAP and a discipline or field of developmental disabilities which qualifies them to address the needs and objectives of the site review. In addition to professional credentials, their ability to make independent objective judgements in the application of standards and to facilitate technical assistance should be considered. Team members may reflect a combination of professional and non-professional peers selected from:

bullet    Peers from other UAPs;

bullet    Representatives of specific disciplines or with specific program expertise;

bullet    Consumers and family members;

bullet    Funding agencies;

bullet    Local service agencies;

bullet    State Protection and Advocacy or Developmental Disabilities Council members or         staff; and

bullet    ADD Staff.

            Team members may represent more than one interest. For example, a team member might be a member of a Developmental Disabilities Council who has a disability, a service provider, or a parent of a child with a disability. A minimum of two directors or faculty from a UAP, one consumer, and a representative from ADD are recommended for ADD-sponsored site reviews.

            If the site review is initiated and funded by the individual UAP, the Director should communicate to ADD the name of the person to chair the team and a list of proposed team members. ADD should have the opportunity to make suggestions prior to invitation of team members. If the site review is initiated by the individual UAP, the final decision regarding the membership of the site review team should rest with the UAP.

            If the site review is initiated and funded by ADD, the choice of a site review Chairperson is usually a joint decision between ADD and the UAP Director. This selection is made before choosing other team members. The purpose, sponsorship and special characteristics and needs of a particular UAP should be clearly communicated and considered in the selection of team members.

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Scheduling the Site Review

            Pre-planning for the site review should allow sufficient time to conduct the self-assessment prior to the on-site review. Planning the schedule of the review must take into account the availability of key staff, Consumer Advisory Committee members, university officials, consumers, and community-based providers, so that they are available to interact with the team.

            Experience suggests that a site review should rarely be shorter than two days. Two and one-half days are usually a more realistic duration. This time span will allow for the integration of information and the formulation of appropriate recommendations. The UAP Director should work closely with the Chairperson of the site review team to establish the agenda, assign team members to various activities according to their expertise, and schedule times for interviews, observations, team discussions, consensus development, feedback sessions, and report writing.

            The UAP Director and Chairperson should prepare a detailed schedule of meetings and interviews to be conducted by team members. This schedule should specify group meetings, individual interviews, designated time for technical assistance (e.g. preparation of the core grant renewal application), times for reviewing and discussing the self-assessment, opportunities to review selected program components, and time for team members to interact, share views, findings, and perceptions. The following types of group meetings may be included:

bullet    An executive session (dinner meeting) the night before the site review with team members, selected UAP administrators, committee chairs, and/or university officials for orientation and planning. Last-minute changes in the agenda should be anticipated.

bullet    A meeting with representatives of the Consumer Advisory Committee or advisory boards and councils who have governance or planning responsibilities.

bullet    A meeting to introduce the team members to the UAP faculty and staff.

bullet    A meeting describing UAP core functions.

bullet    Meetings with discipline coordinators and/or project directors.

bullet    A meeting with key senior university officials to whom the UAP Director reports.

bullet    A meeting with the planning committee or key individuals who conducted the self-assessment.

bullet    A meeting with primary consumers and family members who assist in UAP program responsibilities or receive services and supports.

bullet    A meeting with other funding agencies or local or state service providers.

bullet    A meeting with students of the UAP.

bullet    Meetings with the State Developmental Disabilities Council or Protection and Advocacy representatives.

bullet    Meetings that target technical assistance (e.g. preparation of the core grant renewal application). Technical assistance should also be anticipated throughout the site review.

            Not all team members may be required at such meetings. Typically, site review teams divide responsibility to ensure the efficient use of their time and expertise of each member.

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Products, Activities and Components to Be Reviewed

            The core function products, activities and units to be reviewed by the team should be identified following a clear statement of the objectives and purpose of the site review. Descriptive materials such as those listed below should be sent to team members before the site review; other materials may be reviewed by team members during the site review:

bullet    The most recent annual report of the UAP.

bullet    The most recent ADD competitive core grant application to ADD.

bullet    Recent AAUAP or other database reports or outcome material.

bullet    Formal agreements with the university and other agencies.

bullet    An organizational chart of the structure of the UAP and its place within the university.

bullet    Descriptions of the role of the State Developmental Disabilities Council, State Protection and Advocacy system, and components of the disabilities network or organizations that may have advisory or governance responsibility.

bullet    A brief description of mandated UAP activities including written descriptions of core function plans.

bullet    A brief description of other UAP components and/or project profiles.

bullet    A description of the role of consumers in the UAP.

bullet    A description of the Consumer Advisory Council and its membership.

bullet    A copy of the self-assessment Check Sheet (See APPENDIX B)

All of these materials may be compiled in a Briefing Book described in greater detail later in this Handbook (see page 21).

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Self-Assessment

            The UAP self-assessment is one of the important elements of the site review process. It should bring together and organize program information that the site review team members will need to identify strengths and areas of excellence along with areas where they feel program development may be needed. The self-assessment process is also an excellent opportunity to plan for the upcoming core grant renewal application.

            On an internal level, properly organized and conducted, the self-assessment should include the key players in the UAP and the university. Conducting the self-assessment should be an educational process whereby UAP faculty and staff, university officials, departmental faculty and outside agency personnel become better acquainted with the mission of the UAP, the standards by which they are judged and the quality of programs they are providing. Finally, the self-assessment process should help develop a consensus among faculty, staff and administrators regarding needed changes to strengthen the program to better address its mission, meet expectations, and plan and prepare for the future.

            On an external level it is an opportunity to do an environmental scan with agencies and consumers alike. Their input into the self-assessment can be vital in preparing their responses and expectations at the site review. Involvement of external groups can also further their investment in the long-term plans for the UAP and the upcoming core grant renewal application.
The self-assessment provides an opportunity to:

  1. Describe the scope and extent of the program across the lifespan,
  2. Analyze the relatedness of activities, and
  3. Examine the contribution of programs or projects to the mission and core functions.
The process should also help identify the need for new initiatives and provide the basis for both program evaluation and future planning.

APPENDIX B includes the UAP Self-Assessment Check Sheet designed to assist in conducting the self-study.

            Conducting the Self-Assessment. The self-assessment should include a description and analysis of the total UAP program and an evaluation of the degree to which the UAP meets the ADD program criteria. Completing these tasks may require a significant amount of lead time.

            A UAP may choose to use existing advisory and program committees to conduct the self-assessment. For example, existing interdisciplinary training, research or service committees could be assigned the task of completing specific sections of the program criteria evaluation form. Some UAPs may not have committees that mirror the mandated program activities but may be organized around program themes such as early intervention, adult services, and family support. A special committee may be organized to examine the governance of the UAP, for this section examines issues that deal with university, state and community relations as well as internal organization and functioning.

            The self-study should include individuals or groups directly affected by the UAP's program including trainees, consumers, parents, funding agencies and service providers. Representatives from these groups may or may not be in the committee structure of the UAP. If they are not, special opportunities could be provided to include their input in the assessment of the program's effectiveness and impact.

            Since each UAP is unique, no one organizational model for conducting the self-assessment exists. In general, the self-assessment process should include those who have, or need to have, a stake in the outcome. The self-assessment process is an opportunity to gather information and inform people about the expectations of UAPs and to plan for the future, as well as to evaluate the status of the program.

            Documentation. At least two weeks prior to the site review, the self-assessment report should be sent to each member of the site review team. This is often done as part of a Briefing Book designed to acquaint team members with important information about the UAP. Specific guidelines for assembling a Briefing Book are given below on page 21.

            Using the UAP Program Criteria in the Self-Assessment.The UAP program criteria self-assessment Check Sheet in APPENDIX B has been designed to facilitate the evaluation of each criterion and to identify evidence and the degree of compliance. In addition, space is provided for the site review team to make comments and validate compliance. These forms may be reproduced and made available to all persons who participate in the self-assessment process. The form should be completed by the UAP and sent to the site review team prior to their visit. The Check Sheet presents the basic standards against which the site review team will review compliance with program criteria.

            Other Expectations that the UAP may be Required to Meet.Although the site review process focuses on the use of ADD program criteria, it may be helpful for the site reviewers to understand other expectations that the individual UAPs may be required to meet. Such expectations may include those of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau , Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND); Mental Retardation and developmental Disabilities Research Centers (MR/DDRCs); National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR), Assistive Technology Center; Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERs), Research and Training Centers. These agencies have their own criteria or standards. In planning and organizing the self-study, standards and expectations required by the primary stakeholders in individual program components should be identified. Site review teams should understand how such expectations relate to the UAP.

            Intended Outcomes and Impact of the Self-Assessment. The site review team is responsible for providing an independent verification of the results of the self-assessment and to seek additional information, if needed, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of the program.

            The self-assessment should provide a clear description of the UAP, including its structure and the procedures utilized to leverage resources and promote systematic change in the service system. It should reflect an assessment by the Consumer Advisory Council, administration, faculty, staff, consumers and parents of the UAP's strengths and areas of needed development, as well as those areas where new programs are needed.

The self-assessment report should provide the foundation for the site review and permit the site review team to begin its task with a comprehensive understanding of the program. When the self-assessment has been conducted systematically and thoroughly, it allows the site review team members to devote their additional attention to technical assistance and to help the program design and implement plans to improve, reorganize, or expand to activities to maximize impact. An additional outcome for the individual UAP is that the review process should assist in preparation for the upcoming core renewal application.

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