Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

2014 Native American Service to Science Initiative - Responses to Frequently Asked Questions

The responses below were developed by SAMHSA's Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies (CAPT) and SAMHSA's Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center (Tribal TTAC).

Can our program focus on protective factors and healthy development, rather than risk factors?

Answer: Yes. The main requirements for participation are that programs address substance abuse prevention, are responsive to local tribal needs, are innovative, and fill gaps in the prevention evidence base. Programs can choose to focus on risk or protective factors—there is no requirement of using one approach over the other. In fact, a broad range of programs focusing on protective factors have participated in Service to Science, including those working on strengthening attachment or bonding between youth and a caretaker, building peer support and connectedness, and teaching life skills through culturally-based experiences (e.g., canoeing, drumming). We welcome programs emphasizing strengths-based and healthy development approaches.

Can our program use community-based participatory research as an evaluation model?

Answer: Yes. In fact, one criteria reviewers use to determine acceptance is the program's responsiveness to local needs and the involvement of community stakeholders. We spend a lot of time in our trainings discussing the importance of stakeholder involvement to the success of evaluation efforts. Community-based participatory research is a great model for involving community members in every step of the evaluation process.

Do we have to use specific evaluation methods, such as community-based surveys, or specific designs, such as control or comparison groups?

Answer: No. Evaluation methods should be designed to be responsive to evaluation needs, so programs will work with their technical assistance providers to determine methods that work best for their program's evaluation. This may include qualitative data or community survey data, depending on the interest of the program.

Do all programs that participate in Service to Science have to submit an application to SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP)?

Answer: No. Applying to NREPP is not a requirement. Some past Service to Science programs serving American Indian and Alaska Native populations have applied—many, however, have not. Some programs seek other kinds of recognition besides federal registries. This may include community endorsement or approval, as well as recognition from native professional organizations and associations. The goal of Service to Science and our technical assistance providers is to provide evaluation capacity-building support to programs as they seek out the kind of recognition that meets their needs and goals.

Who owns the data collected during and throughout the Service to Science process?

Answer: The tribal nation, the tribal project, or the tribal program owns the data.

Can SAMHSA or its collaborating training and technical assistance centers use the data collected for other purposes?

Answer: No. Data generated during a program's Service to Science experience will not be used by SAMHSA or its two collaborating training and technical assistance centers (the CAPT and the Tribal TTAC) for any purpose other than providing evaluation capacity-building support to the program. Also, data generated over the course of a program's STS participation should not be shared with the CAPT or the Tribal TTAC. Technical assistance providers do report on the types of follow-up technical assistance they provide to their assigned programs—but this is for internal management of the Service to Science initiative only. In addition, evaluators from the CAPT will contact program participants approximately 15 months after selection into Service to Science to request information about the progress of their evaluation capacity-building efforts. However, SAMHSA will not ask for participant data collected as part of program evaluation efforts.

How are technical assistance providers selected to work with the programs that participate in Service to Science?

Answer: Technical assistance providers are matched to programs based on program needs, providers' areas of expertise, geographic considerations, and availability. Programs will work with technical assistance providers who demonstrate cultural humility, have extensive experience designing and implementing culturally relevant strategies for measuring program outcomes, and have a track record of working positively with tribal programs. Two technical assistance providers will be assigned to each program—one from the CAPT and one from the Tribal TTAC. Both CAPT and Tribal TTAC staff will also be available to answer questions or address challenges that arise during the technical assistance process.