Evidence-based practice involves identifying, assessing, and implementing strategies that are supported by scientific research. State child welfare agencies are increasingly aware of the need to focus their resources on programs that have demonstrated results, especially for achieving outcomes as measured in the Federal Child and Family Services Review process. In addition, many State legislators are calling for information about whether the programs they fund work, and foundations and other funders often require that grantees employ evidence-based program models.
In order to provide evidence that their services achieve positive outcomes, administrators, program managers, supervisors, and frontline workers must understand how evidence-based practice applies to child welfare services and be aware of the resources and tools available to assist them.
The terms "evidence-based practices" and "evidence-supported interventions" are defined differently. Evidence-based practices refer to the integration of the best available research evidence with the child welfare practice expertise in the context of child and family characteristics, culture, and preferences.
Evidence-supported interventions are well-defined practices, programs, services, or policies that have been shown, through rigorous evaluation, to improve outcomes for children and families in comparison to one or more alternatives. When an evidence-supported intervention that was tested in a specific location or under certain conditions is appropriately selected and applied in the field by a child welfare practitioner working with a child, family, or community, it is integrated into evidence-based practice.
The resources and tools described throughout this section can help agencies make informed decisions about the implementation of evidence-based practice within the contexts of their communities. These resources will assist child welfare professionals in finding, assessing, implementing, and evaluating evidence-based practice and programs. Users also will find links to examples of how evidence-based practice has been implemented in other States and communities.