Co-creating the Conditions to Sustain the Use of Research Evidence in Public Child Welfare

What strategies help child welfare agency leaders, evidence-based program developers, and child welfare providers initiate and sustain the use of research evidence?

With support from the National Implementation Research Network, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) has engaged in an initiative to apply research evidence on parenting and home visiting programs to improve child welfare services and prevent families from becoming more deeply involved in the child welfare system. The different stakeholders collaborated to assess the fit of the research evidence with the needs of local populations and developed a structured decision-making tool to automate the matching process. They also co-created context-specific, logic models for each evidence-based program, and to communicate how the evidence-based models contribute to child welfare outcomes. In addition, they jointly devised training tools and continuous improvement strategies to integrate evidence based practices with child welfare standards and to optimize practice. Metz hypothesizes that when diverse stakeholders consider each other’s problems, jointly produce models to improve research translation, and clarify expectations of each other’s roles, their understanding, collective commitment, and valuing of research evidence increase. Metz will perform secondary data analysis of qualitative data to reveal how stakeholder groups built mutual understanding and created the evidence-based products. She also will examine how stakeholder roles shifted over time. Data will include semi-structured interview transcripts, implementation team meeting minutes, documents, and agency-administered surveys. Results will increase understanding of the factors needed to sustain use of evidence-based practices in a dynamic service environment. The findings will also inform the development of a protocol that can guide other child welfare leaders, providers, and program developers in co-creating strategies for successfully implementing evidence-based tools.