Ethnography in Evaluation: Uncovering Hidden Costs and Benefits in Child Mental Health

This article discusses the application of ethnography to the design and implementation of an anthropologically informed cost-benefit analysis, of a program for families of children with severe emotional disorders. Ethnography proved particularly useful at revealing monetary costs and benefits for various stakeholders not included in traditional evaluations or assessments, as well as identifying costs avoided and non-quantifiable "hidden" benefits of the program to families and children, such as increased communication between family and community, improved parenting skills, and higher valuations of self-esteem of parents and children. This article contributes to the literature on evaluation anthropology in that it provides an example of how ethnography can inform the assessment and measurement of importance from the viewpoint of a program's participants, bringing their voices and concerns to the attention of program directors and policy makers.

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Human Organization