Participatory Program Planning: Including Program Participants and Evaluators

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Many evaluators have written about the usefulness of including stakeholders and program participants in the design and implementation of program evaluations. Policy makers are also beginning to see benefits of including those most affected by policies in their work. However, there has been little attention paid to program planning and how future program participants can assist in the process. Because of their knowledge of program design and their experience with participatory evaluations, many evaluators are well equipped to conduct participatory program planning. Including future program participants and evaluators in program planning could not only improve programs, but also allow for evaluative measures to be included and utilized in the design and administration of new programs. Presented in this paper is a generalizable program planning model that includes participants in eight planning components. Some of the pitfalls of participatory work as well as examples of how participatory planning could be used in various contexts are provided.