EBP When You Can’t Afford It


As someone who helps agencies develop outcome and data management systems, I’m particularly interested in evidence-based practices in child welfare.

That’s why I recently checked out a recorded webinar from the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute on the topic. In this case, the presenation focused primarily on the status of evidenced-based practices in the California child welfare system and the California Evidenced-Based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare (www.cebc4cw.org).There is concern that emphasis on EBP might stifle innovation. And it’s expensive. Small agencies can avoid these traps by developing their own outcomes systems.

Most of the discussion and information were centered around the challenges and rewards of identifying and implementing EBP in large child welfare agencies and bureaucracies. For these large oganizations, getting adequate training and ongoing support in implementation are at least as important, and maybe more critical to success, than finding the right EBP to use. It’s also important to identify where EBPs can be usefully deployed.

But since smaller, independent agencies are my particular area of expertise, I was most interested to hear discussion of two points that validated the work I’ve been doing for the last 15 years.

  • There is legitimate and widely held concern in the professional community that the emphasis on EBP might stifle innovation, which is not how EBP should and could be used; and
  • Small private agencies can both innovate and avoid the large expense involved in buying EBP training by developing their own  logic models and collecting outcomes that test it. The information staff gathers by doing this can help legitimize, evaluate and improve their own programming as well as provide leverage to pursue academics and funders for collaboration.

Think about it: evidence-based practices became evidence-based because somebody collected solid outcomes showing that a particular approach works.  And once you’ve gathered persuasive data, you’ll be in a position to interest outside groups, including funders, in what you do.

~ Youth Catalytics’ Outcomes Specialist Doug Tanner





Posted in evaluation

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