In the News

Westat Supporting Clients in Research That Works to Improve Equity

December 7, 2021

Westat has been awarded a number of contracts this year that work toward informing knowledge and solutions to improving equity. The following are a few examples of this new work in social policy and health.

Chafee Strengthening Outcomes for Transition to Adulthood; Administration for Children and Families, HHS. This research addresses the limitations of evaluating services that improve the lives of youth transitioning out of foster care. Westat and our partners will work together with transitioning youth, multidisciplinary evaluators, system stakeholders, and internal and external consultants to identify common evaluation challenges, and implement a range of innovative evaluative methods that test the effectiveness of program services in 5 chosen sites. Ultimately, these activities will build the evidence base of what works to support transitioning youth, and improve the feasibility and rigor of culturally-responsive and equity-focused program evaluations. ​

Addressing Homelessness Among Older Adults; HHS. Older adults are a rapidly growing subset of the homeless population, and that subset is projected to continue to grow over the next decade. More study is needed on the characteristics and needs of older adults at risk of and experiencing homelessness and how coordinated services available across systems can best meet their needs. Using a systems perspective and a racial equity lens, Westat will examine the housing, services, and supports needed to address homelessness for older adults entering homelessness through different pathways. The work will include conducting an environmental scan and interviews with experts and providers to provide a deeper understanding of the composition and dynamics of the older population entering homelessness and innovative policies, strategies, services, and housing to meet their needs.

National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) and the National Study of Caregiving (NSOC); National Institute on Aging (NIA). NHATS focuses on the trends, precursors, correlates, and disparities of late-life disability, as well as the social and economic consequences of late-life disability for individuals, families, and society. NSOC gathers information on family and unpaid caregivers to participants in NHATS. Westat has a lead role in overall research design, sample design, pretesting, survey operations, and data dissemination. NHATS already included an oversample of Black Medicare beneficiaries. By adding an oversample of Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older will enable researchers to analyze trends and comparisons of Hispanics by 5-year age groups among Hispanics, Black, and non-Black subgroups over time.

Healthy Start Evaluation and Capacity-Building Support; Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). Westat will conduct a national evaluation of the Healthy Start program designed to reduce racial and ethnic differences in infant mortality and other perinatal outcomes. We implement an evaluation that builds on our earlier work developing a feasible and creative design, including annual participant data reported to HRSA by its 101 grantees, stakeholder interviews, and surveys with program staff, their community partners, and participants. In addition to program implementation, utilization, and outcome components to be assessed in the evaluation, the design includes a novel component—transformative evaluation to assess how local Healthy Start programs advance health equity in their communities.​

Equitable Services for Private School Students, Teachers, and Families; Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE), ED. ONPE’s mission is to foster maximum participation of non-public school students and teachers in federal education programs and initiatives. Westat is supporting ONPE in leading management, quality control, planning, and implementation of the National Private School Leadership Conference and Ombudsman Update LIVE Conference. Through this work, Westat is advancing equitable services for private school students and teachers.


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