Mixed-methods Study of Organizational Supports used by Private Child Welfare Agencies to Facilitate Evidence Use

What organizational supports facilitate research evidence use in private child welfare agencies?

In response to federal mandates, state and private child welfare agencies are developing plans to improve the quality of services that promote child safety and well-being. Decision makers can use research evidence to develop these plans, learn of strategies and tools to strengthen service delivery, and sharpen their understanding of key issues. Yet barriers to the use of research evidence are well documented, and the degree to which decision makers use available research evidence varies. This study will broaden this knowledge base and reveal the investments agencies make to facilitate access to and the use of research evidence. The team will identify organizational supports that are associated with staff use of different types of research evidence. The project will also investigate how the organization’s size, accreditation, and funding sources, as well as the managers’ education and behaviors, shape these supports and the ways research is used. A mixed-methods design will be implemented in two phases. In Phase 1, quantitative survey data about research use will be collected from managers of 448 private child welfare agencies in six states. Phase 2 will involve in-depth case studies of 18-34 individuals in 12 private agencies to understand agencies’ strategic priorities, motivation for investing in organizational supports to use research evidence, and facilitators and barriers to use.