Happy International Women's Day!

While today is a day for all people to celebrate womanhood and to celebrate the accomplishments of female-identifying people, it’s important to remember that March 8th, International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the progress women have made towards gender equity and equality and fighting against sexism and oppression women across the world experience everyday. While huge amounts of progress have been made for women's rights over the past 100 years, it's important to remember that women are still fighting today, and every other day of the year, all around the world to help advance the cause of feminism. At CAP Consulting we work on projects everyday that remind us of how important feminism still is and make us proud to be a part of the daily effort to fight oppression. Today we celebrate, and every other day we make sure to do our part to ensure the next International Women's Day we have even more of which to be proud. 

This is a great article from the Guardian that highlights how women around the world are celebrating today:

'We are international, we are everywhere': women unite in global strike


Community Connections: The Passport Program and Families in Crisis

Passport funds could make a difference if Golyak could find programs that would engage Tomer in activities he likes or teach basic skills. Tomer loves to draw and is fascinated with aviation, proudly showing a visitor his sketch of an aircraft... These days it’s hard for Golyak to think beyond the next crisis. But he hasn’t given up on a future for his son.
— Andrea Gordon, The Toronto Star

To us, a big part of making CAP Consulting accessible means being connected with the barriers that people face in their daily lives, and by extension the impact our work has on these barriers and challenges. One project we have recently been involved with is the Passport Program, which is administered in Toronto through Family Service Toronto. The Passport Program provides direct funding for adults with developmental disabilities for things such as community participation supports, respite, person-directed planning, and support for the activities of daily living. You can read more about our work with FST here.

Recently, the Passport Program has been featured in province-wide news. A scathing report summarizing an investigation by the Ontario ombudsman into the state of services for adults living with developmental disabilities was released this Wednesday, August 24th. (CBC article about the report's findings) The investigation has already served as a wake up call for certain groups, although many people in the disability services community were already aware that there was a crisis on hand. In Wednesday's paper, the Toronto Star ran a series of stories by Andrea Gordon featuring not just the details of the coming report, but also highlighted various individuals and their caregivers, and the challenges they face accessing services. The articles feature some of the horrific situations many caregivers are often forced into and the traumatic consequences they can have on families. 

A story like this takes on new meaning for us once we have had first hand experience working not just with this community, but even more closely with the Passport Program itself. CAP Consulting was involved in evaluating what the needs were of the recipients of the funds, consulting on how they use their funds now, and how they wish they would be able to use them in the future. Through our work, we observed how beneficial this program is, with improving both the lives of the clients and of their caregivers. We also observed that although this program has been a huge help to those who receive it, it's still not enough. 

Articles like this one prove to us that our work is important and most significantly, relevant. The issues we encountered and highlighted with our final report are not limited to the 50 or so individuals we encountered in our research, but instead are mutual challenges and barriers to the over 5,800 people who are still on the waiting list just to have access to the program and the thousands more adults in Ontario living with developmental disabilities with inadequate access to supports and services. This issue is one we strongly believe in, so we feel grateful that we have been able to work directly with this community and that not only has this critical issue been on the front of our minds recently, but on the provinces and the media's as well.

"So What Do You Do For a Living?"

When it comes to discussions about careers with new acquaintances or even sometimes older friends, the understanding of what we do as Research Consultants and Program Evaluators is often limited. A lot of the time we're greeted with polite small nods that most likely show that people are just pretending to understand how we make our living, where sometimes our explanations are met with straight out confessions of, "I'm not exactly sure what that is. But it sounds interesting!" In fact, some of our own kids probably couldn't even explain to you exactly what it is that we do in our job. 

Running our own consulting business means that our work takes on all forms, from project management to envelope licking, from intensive data analysis to sharing meals with project stakeholders. Looking beyond the industry jargon or vocabulary used in our work, the best way to describe what we do is just that we help all sorts of groups, from hyper-local community organizations to larger government run programs to make sure that what they are offering to the community is achieving its goals. As evaluators our job isn't to tell someone what their program is doing right or wrong; what we want is to make sure that our work helps to improve programs and to build on their strengths. 

That being said, as much as our work can sometimes be a difficult thing to nail down with one straightforward definition, for the past while we have been working on connecting with our peers in the industry and networking to form stronger connections with others doing similar work. Recently, Karen Hayward has received her accreditation as a Credentialed Evaluator (CE) from the Canadian Evaluation Society, marking more officially our commitment to bring the best quality and most professional work to all of our clients. This accreditation guarantees a specific set of standards and approaches set out by the CES. You are able to read more about what a Credentialed Evaluator is and what these standards are on their website. 

Keep checking back here for more updates as we continue our professional development here at CAP Consulting!

Data Visualization Can be Fun! (And Useful)


Recently we finished the first year of the evaluation of the Muskoka Bridges Projects and are really looking forward to continuing our work with them over the next four years. This program helps to bring individual and community resources to people living in poverty over a kitchen table type setting. Bridges is a community project led by YWCA Muskoka offering multi-tiered initiatives for people living in poverty. The goal is to help remove barriers, as well as promote and increase more social and economic participation in the community.

We also have just finished some work for Family Services Toronto for the Passport Program. The program helps to meet the needs of adults living with developmental disabilities. 

Lately, as we write our reports for different organizations, we've been increasingly focused on how we can present our research and evaluations in the most dynamic, interesting way possible. We want to make sure that everyone involved in these projects can access the information we provide, which can mean presenting it in a variety of different ways, for a range of people from different backgrounds, but who are all invested in the outcomes of our work. 

Cole Nussbaumer Knaflic's book, Storytelling with Data, is an essential resource for helping to refine data visualization and to come up with new and exciting ways to report findings. We would highly recommend it! We've also attended a Webinar which focused on improving tools for data visualisation. For us at CAP Consulting this is a big deal, since effective data visualisation is a key part of achieving our mandate of collaborative and accessible work. 

Click here to visit the Storytelling with Data website.


Welcome to CAP Consulting!

We're incredibly excited to be launching our new CAP website. Our hope is that this website showcases the exciting services offered by CAP, our current work and most importantly, the people behind CAP Consulting.

Whether it be program evaluation, toolkit development or any of the other work we do at CAP Consulting, we always look to remain as connected as possible to the community and those we work with. Our hope is to use this blog, along with our Twitter and Facebook pages, to showcase our current projects, upcoming work, as well as news that is relevant to the work we do and our social justice goals, from the community and beyond. By showcasing what we find interesting and what inspires us, you can get a better idea of what we stand for and strive towards at CAP Consulting. Communicating with you and being as open as possible are only part of our current efforts to reinforce our core values of being both collaborative and accessible.

Keep checking this page, along with our other social media pages, to get the latest updates on what the CAP Consulting team is working on right now.

Thanks again for checking out our website and we look forward to hearing from you with your questions and comments!

- The CAP Team