Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

At this point in SOCW 6311, we have covered the following topics:

the importance of using scholarly research to locate and support evidence based practices;

methods for identifying behavioral indicators of change and methods of measuring those indicators to determine if our interventions are effective;

the use of findings from quantitative research to aid us in knowing if the results of an intervention show positive change that can be attributed to the effect of the intervention;

the use of qualitative research to obtain thick descriptions of events and conditions from the people involved with them to identify themes that indicate a direction for our interventions;

the importance of objectively evaluating our programs and interventions through process and product methods for approaching that task.

This week, we will begin to apply all these tools in program development by use of the logic model.

In social work practice and in program development, it is possible to make faulty assumptions about what clients need and what the effects of social work activities will be. Logic models have been developed to help planners to create programs that accurately assess needs of clients and develop programs that are designed to make an effective impact.

Consider the following:

A team of social workers meets to discuss their services to low-income young mothers. One social worker states that what the young mothers need most is information about community resources. She proposes that the social workers’ activities consist of making referrals to programs for public assistance for income support, food stamps, medical insurance, employment agencies, and educational resources. However, another team member points out that most clients are referred to those programs from the public welfare office and health care programs. This suggests that the clients tend to possess knowledge of these common resources and have been able to access them.

The social workers face several decisions. How might the team explore what problems bring the clients to their agency? What might the team learn from client assessments? How can the team verify the desired outcomes of their services? (Walden, 2019)

If social workers come from different agencies, serve different clients, or have different ideas about needs, how can they come to a common understanding?

Differences of opinion on a team can lead to conflict, but if managed well, differences can lead to broader understanding from the different perspectives held by members of the team. Social workers in the example above who begin the logic model process can learn from one another about the unaddressed needs, services that are currently available to address the problem and conditions that pose obstacles for using the resources, and gaps in services that are currently available.

After the team and/or stakeholders have clearly defined the problem and have identified what will be better when the problem is mitigated (the goal), the next step is to develop a planned effort. The best way to achieve an effective plan is to divide the effort into its component parts, connected through a logic model.

Logic models are visual representations of issues to consider when developing programs by linking needs, resources, and interventions with intended results. A logic model

uses words and/or pictures …[in] a systematic and visual way to present … the relationships among the resources you have to operate your program, the activities you plan, and the changes or results you hope to achieve. It connects the needs of the clients with the intended outcomes through the specific outputs you intend to perform (Kellogg Foundation, p.5, 2006).

If your career involves any aspect of program development, there is a strong chance that you will use a logic model. Logic models use graphs and tables to summarize and demonstrate the components of the programs they are used to describe.

Before continuing further, watch this youtube video from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelpha, which partnered with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to produce videos to help agencies develop programs for teen driver safety. This video, Creating and using a program logic model provides an excellent explanation of the use of the logic model in developing interventions:

If the link does not work, put this url in your browser: 

Logic models have been found to be valuable in many professions including social work, health care, education, and business. Each profession may have its own format and style, but the methods for develop logic models are essentially the same across different disciplines. They are useful because

[a] program logic model is a picture of how your program works… [It] provides a roadmap for your program, outlining how it is expected to work, what activities need to come before others, and how desired outcomes are achieved. In simple terms, it gives a visual picture of what inputs and outputs are needed to achieve the desired outcomes. (Barkman, 2000).

At the most basic level, “[t]he logic model is really a sequence that shows the logical relationship between inputs, outputs, and outcomes” (Barkman, 2000, p. 7). If INPUTS are provided, we can produce OUTPUTS. If OUTPUTS are provided, we should achieve OUTCOMES.

IF we have these resources THEN we can perform these, & IF we perform these outputs THEN these outcomes could be expected
Inputs Outputs Outcomes

Barkman (2000) continues “A logic model displays the chain of events that will effect changes and achieve your targeted outcomes. You might think about this as a series of if-then relationships” (p. 7).

Logic models also ensure fidelity to the mission and goals of the sponsoring organization and outside stakeholders (Muhajarine, McHenry, Cheng, Popham, and Smith, 2013) since they are usually presented to funders and stakeholders when seeking support.

The logic model also provides a framework for evaluating each phase of the program to ensure accountability, assess what is working, and discover what should be changed.

  1. First, identify resources (“inputs”) that could be used to address the problem. Include those that are already available and resources that are needed.

These may consist of a variety of items, personnel, or facilities such as

  • people (staff, partners, volunteers)
  • time
  • funding
  • materials and equipment
  • technology (include internet, phone services, etc.)
  • space to hold sessions
  1. Second, specify the general strategies and general categories of services, activities, or planned type of work to perform. Examples are
    • types of counseling
    • education
    • recreation
    • advocacy
    • community organization activities
    • providing basic needs such as food or shelter.

These may have one or two descriptions words attached, but that is all. For example:

  • adolescent drug counseling
  • parenting education for parents and guardians of children with autism
  • summer recreation and lunch program for children under 18 at Walden Park
  • tenants’ rights advocacy program
  • voter registration program for homebound seniors
  • Pop-up food truck to provide soup at the homeless camp in Walden City

The details, referred to as outputs, interventions, strategies, or tasks are the specific details of the program and are placed in the third column.

Third, select the details of the program in #2, referred to as outputs, interventions, services, strategies, or tasks and place them in the third column. Outputs/interventions/tasks are measurable services to be performed by the organization to mitigate the problem: explicitly, what the organization will provide in detail and for whom: the “types, levels, and targets or services to be delivered” (Kellogg Foundation, 2017, p. 116). Outputs are stated in terms of who will deliver the service(s), who will be offered the services and with what delivery formatto/for whom will they be provided, whenwherehow often, and under what conditions. The activities (#2) are general categories, but the outputs are very detailed.

  1. Fourth, identify the intended short-term, intermediate (if relevant), and long-term outcomes.


For example, let’s say that NASA officials decided that they wanted to foster an interest in space exploration in underperforming schools in Waldentown to motivate disadvantaged children of color to study the sciences related to space exploration.

The problem that they have identified is that there are not enough persons of color to enter astronaut training or to work on projects related to developments in outer space. NASA scientists have decided that they need to reach students before or during middle school to motivate their interest in space exploration, and they are particularly interested in low-income children at risk. They are unsure how to proceed, so they invite all the school social workers in Waldentown to present their ideas and ask for guidance.

The social workers are very excited about the plan because outer space exploration intrigues both girls and boys. They agree that the program should reach children in their first year of middle school because their science classes become more focused at that time and the children would have the maturity to understand and agree to a program. One school in Waldentown, City Middle School, has an enrollment where 98% of the students are children of color and 72% of all students qualify for free lunch. The social workers advise the NASA officials to select this school for their program. The social workers from City Middle School endorse the program and begin working together to make the program happen.

The problem is defined and a focus on first-year middle school children is established, knowing that their population would consist mainly of low income students of color, which is the population that NASA is trying to inspire and support.

The social workers determine that offering the program at City Middle School as an after school program is the best option for stimulating interest and participation of the students and the support of the teachers and school administration.

They consider that the program will require these resources to be successful, some which are available and some will have to be obtained:

  1. space to meet
  2. supplies (paper, construction paper, markers, Styrofoam, science experiment supplies like dry ice and nitrogen to create an atmosphere, balance boards to practice balancing in zero gravity
  3. activity plans presented by the leaders and the NASA team
  4. leaders (both school teachers and NASA scientists) to provide the activities
  5. food and beverages for an after-school snack
  6. transportation home for the students

Social workers perform the following activities (inputs)

  1. Approvals: they get the approval and support of the principal, faculty, and staff; inform parents and guardians about the program, and get their permission to invite the children to attend.
  2. Physical accommodations and supplies: they request space and supplies like paper, pens, and materials for experiments from the school (someone has to do this – they don’t appear magically!), and arrange the schedule and room.
  3. Activity leaders: They get commitments from two NASA scientists to come regularly to impress the students with fun facts and equipment and enlist the computer teacher, Ms. Cosmos, and the science teacher, Mr. Starr, to lead activities at every meeting
  4. They plan to get funds from the community to pay for a substantial afternoon snack
  5. They ask the school administrative assistant to contact the bus company to tell them about the increased number of students who will need after-hours transportation home.

Social workers perform the following specific outputs; sometimes called deliverables, tasks, interventions, products, and strategies, but they all refer to the same thing – that is, exactly what is being done, how, and by whom.

1) meet with the principal to gain support for the program

2) mail letters to all households of students, create posters, and send flyers home with students to ask parents for permission (they are happy to give it),

3) meet with the computer science and earth science faculty in the month of May to enlist their involvement. (You learn that they are excited to lead the activities with the NASA scientists).

4) Approach a community firm, Final Frontier Aeronautics, to provide funds for submarine sandwiches, beverages, and crackers (They, too, are excited to support the program.

5) Contract for 30 vegetarian submarine sandwiches per week from Space Cadet Subs and arrange for beverages and crackers to be provided by Mr. Graham of the food service staff;

5) make arrangements (program logistics) that include selecting these accommodations:

a) where the program is conducted (Room B52)

b) when (every Monday in September, October, and November, 2019, from 2: 45 PM to 4:20 PM)

c) for/with whom: all 6th grade City Middle School students who return a permission slip

The recipients will perform the following tasks: attend 75% of the after-school space program on scheduled Mondays to remain eligible to participate

The leaders will perform the following tasks:

Ms. Cosmos and Mr. Starr will lead computer activities and space experiments, culminating in launching a rocket in the field behind the school in Week 12 of the program

Two NASA scientists will attend on Weeks 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 to help students understand weightlessness, try on an astronaut suit, operate the space capsule simulator, show how rockets and robots work, and sharing recent news about aliens and UFOs.

The social workers settled on the following goals or anticipated outcomes:

  1. Students enrolled in the program will attend 75% of the program sessions (9 sessions) or more
  2. 50% of the students enrolled in this program will participate in another science oriented after-school program for spring semester

Long term outcomes include higher rates of high school graduation and college enrollment and an increase in disadvantaged students studying space sciences in high school and post-secondary education. The ultimate long-term goals include students working for NASA after college graduation and becoming a role model for future middle school students at Waldentown’s City Middle School to inspire them to study space sciences and enter professions related to space science, too.


As you can see, with a logic model, there is little question about who does what, when, and where, and how the activities of the program are related to the purposes for which it is created.


To produce a logic model, the problem statement and goal, along with the needed resources (both resources that are readily available and those that must be obtained), activities (general categories of tasks to be done), outputs (what leaders and participants will actually do or provide, including when, where, how much, how often, etc. ), and outcomes will be placed in the template for discussion, refinement, and evaluation.

Since this is a detailed plan involving many individuals, everything must be clearly outlined with nothing left to chance.

An example of a logic model for a mental health program for Indian youth as presented by the Indian Health Service is below.

  1. Note that the logic model begins with a problem statement on which the stakeholders agree.
  2. The second section describes resources – both those that are already available and those that are still needed – to achieve the project goals
  3. The next section (activities) itemizes general categories of activities that will be performed or provided and by whom. Some logic models include a category to identify intended participants or recipients of the services (type, number, etc.)
  4. “Outputs reflect the amount, frequencies, nature, etc. of these service and activity efforts” (Social Solutions, 2019). These are specific and highly detailed so they can be evaluated easily and accountability can be determined.
  5. Short-term and long-term results expected from the program are entered last.

The logic model below is adapted from a model devised by the Indian Health Service for a major metropolitan area with a large population of Native Americans and a high rate of suicide among young Indian youth (ages 11-17).

Problem and need: Urban Indian youth lack access to available support and counseling services. Most are designed for older teens and adults and require a car/cab to access. Suicide rates are increasing faster than the national average for younger Indian youth in the Walden City metropolitan area. A suicide prevention hotline program designed for younger Indian youth is needed to reduce the rates of Indian youth suicides in our state.
Inputs/resources Activities Interventions/outputs Benefits/impacts

State-wide toll free phone and text service through Dakota County government center

BIA/Tribal social service agencies are able to provide ongoing counseling and referrals via Skype and in the schools


The equivalent of 4 full-time staff to answer calls 24/7, 365 days per year.

Training for new hires in suicide counseling and prevention work

Funds for hiring and training

Set up hotline


Distribute information

Director of the Walden Counseling agency will hire 4 experienced hotline counselors with MSW degrees

All staff of the Walden Counseling Agency, including the new hotline counselors, will participate in two day-long hotline suicide prevention trainings

Intern MSWs at the Walden Counseling Agencies will distribute brochures to each student and put up posters in each of the middle and high schools in Walden City during a brief presentation in each homeroom.

Interns will attend one PTA program and give a brief presentation to publicize the program.

Interns will set up a card table booth at two local pow-wows in fall, 2019 to inform community members about the program.

Hotline will go live on January 1 and be staffed by two hotline staff or one staff and one MSW intern 24/7 who will provide counseling, referrals, and interventions if needed to prevent suicides.

Short-term Long-term
All staff will be more comfortable discussing suicide with their clients.

Walden area Native American community will gain information about culturally-responsive mental health and suicide prevention programs in the area.

Greater numbers of Indian youth at-risk for suicide will be offered support and help.

Reduced stigma for requesting and obtaining mental health services

Reduction in suicide attempts and completions among Indian youth connected to the Walden metro area

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

Another example of a logic model designed to address the needs of children in foster care with fetal alcohol syndrome is on page 9 of this resource: Phase one evaluation: Improving outcomes for children with FASD in foster care – Final report. Retrieved from (Muhajarine, McHenry, Cheng, Popham, and Smith, 2013).

Additional information about the purposes and advantages of a logic model has been prepared for human service programs and agencies by the Wilder Foundation, found here: This is a short document that also includes many links for further information and additional examples.

Do you see how at every stage an evaluation can be made to ensure that the program is on track?

If the outputs (particularly what the organization staff do and how they do it) do not yield the desired outcomes, the team can look at what was offered and consider what changes to make in the program to make it more effective.

These changes may involve reassessing their resources, revising goals to make them more reachable or attractive to participants, changing the activities offered, or changing some factor pertaining to how the activities are provided which may mean changing the time the services are provided, the venue, the format, changing the presentation staff, and to name a few possibilities.

“This series of logical connections leads to formulating a theory of change, that is, a theory about how our work leads to the outcomes for clients” (Walden, 2019). Cook (2015) notes that “Logic Models (LM) graphically illustrate program components [providing a] tactical explanation of the process of producing a desired outcome. Theory of Change Models (TOC) [l]ink outcomes and activities to explain HOW and WHY the desired change is expected to come about” and provide evidence to explain what factors CAUSE the desired change.

By applying a logic model to a problem and evaluating the results, social workers can become better informed about what workshow it works (or doesn’t) by assessing the impact of their efforts on clients and communities, and what is needed to sustain or increase long-term change. The knowledge gained from these evaluations can be applied to future service delivery models because it offers a theory of change: how and why a particular intervention works.

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

The Kellogg Foundation explains how theories of change develop from logic models in the Program Evaluation Handbook (2017):

Theories of change link outcomes and strategies to explain HOW and WHY the desired change is expected to come about, while logic models graphically illustrate program components such as inputs, strategies and outcomes; creating one will help you and your stakeholders clearly identify inputs, strategies and outcomes. (W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2017, p. 108)


To prepare for this Discussion, imagine that you are part of a work group charged with creating a logic model and generating a theory of change. Select a practitioner-level intervention for which you are interested in analyzing connections. Consider how a logic model might be applied to that practice.


Post a logic model for a fictional practitioner-level intervention. Envision yourself as a social worker in an agency that has authorized you to develop this logic model, will support your intervention plan, and has multiple resources available to you for your project, except for a few. (We can dream, can’t we?)

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

Enter these items into your logic model template listed below:

  1. Problem statement: Describe the types of problem(s) or need(s) you intend to address for your client. Identify any conditions that are making it difficult for your client to overcome the problem or need and identify the goal of your project.
  2. Resources: List resources you can access to implement your project and those you will need (You may use your own agencies as models, but don’t identify them, or make up imaginary lists of resources).
  3. Activities: Identify a general category of service that you intend to offer. Select from these options and then add a descriptor as shown below:
    • Counseling
    • Education
    • Recreation
    • Providing basic needs, such as food or shelter.
    • Add the type of recipient you hope to serve and add one or two descriptors. Keep it brief! Examples:
      1. Veterans’ counseling and referral program
      2. pre-school music and movement education
      3. youth-oriented Red Cross first responder program
      4. lunch program in the park for seniors
      5. teen job shadowing program
  4. Identify outputs – the specific actions and interventions you intend to do – when, where, how often, etc. to accomplish the general activities or strategies in #3.
  5. Identify the short- and long-term outcomes that you hope will result from your specific interventions.

Note: there are many examples of logic models on the Internet. Some do not follow this exact format and are adjusted for the purposes of an organization, but all show a connection among the needs, resources, interventions, and anticipated outcomes of a project.

Read a few logic models (Google “examples of logic models”) to observe how different organizations will break down an initiative into its component parts to keep everyone involved and aware of their roles, the goals of the projects, the activities and tasks that they will be performing, ending with benchmarks for success and expected outcomes.

Search for resources that inform your views and cite them in your report. The Kellogg Foundation Program Evaluation Handbook is a goldmine of ideas and examples, for one.

Use the template provided HERE: Each column has a row that explains its function. Place your contributions in the blank row underneath it, and make sure that your contributions are aligned with the function described in its respective column.

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes

Statement of problem/need, problem conditions, and purpose for creating the program.


Planning Anticipated Outcomes & Impacts



The people, time, $, and assets we already have and those we need for the program/ treatment



To address the need, we will conduct these general activities. For this exercise, choose from counseling, education, recreation, and basic needs.



Expand upon the type of program in Activities. Include the specific services or products you intend to provide to recipients. Include how often, when, where, and what kind of users/clients you intend to address.

Provide details!


benefits for recipients


benefits for recipients and wider community

Near-immediate benefits for recipients who participate in the program Longer-term positive effects of the program on the recipients and community

Using a Logic Model to Focus Interventions and Achieve Desired Outcomes