Evidence-based practice plays a role in system reform as child welfare practitioners work to develop interventions, build evidence about their effectiveness, integrate effective interventions into child welfare practice, and continue to improve programs and service delivery.
The following resources identify evidence-based strategies used in child welfare reform efforts, including State and local examples.
The practices included below have been identified by their developers or an outside group as "evidence-based." Child Welfare Information Gateway and the Children's Bureau do not endorse individual practices or programs or make any claims about the effectiveness of the approaches described. This information is provided as a resource.
Assembling the Pieces: Research, Policy, and Practice in Child Welfare (PDF - 257 KB)
Casey Family Programs (2016)
Explores using research evidence in child welfare, which results in more informed decision-making; increased use of evidence-based practices; and ongoing evaluation for accountability, client satisfaction, and program improvement purposes. Research evidence is critical for ensuring a high functioning system of policies and programs serving children and families.
The Evolution of Child Welfare Reform (PDF - 261 KB)
CW360 Child Welfare Reform
Presents an overview and in-depth discussion of child welfare reform, including a description of the evolution of evidence-based practice under "Practice Techniques and Models" on page 5.
A Framework for Evidence-Based Systems-Level Change (PDF - 652 KB)
The University of Texas at Austin, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Child and Family Research Partnership (2018)
Offers a framework for evidence-based systems-level change, which includes five phases beginning with identifying which community partners need to be involved and ending with measurable outcomes.
A Historic Opportunity to Reform the Child Welfare System: Youth & Alumni Priorities on Preventing Unnecessary Removal of Children From Their Families (PDF - 134 KB)
National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council (2019)
Provides recommendations from youth and foster care alumni on ways to improve child welfare policy and practice and highlights new opportunities for the use of evidence-based practices presented by the Family First Prevention Services Act.
Implementing the Family First Prevention Services Act
Children's Defense Fund (2020)
Presents a guide to the Family First Prevention Services Act, which is designed to provide a starting point for the implementation efforts of child welfare agencies, policymakers, and other stakeholders. The guide contains a section devoted to evidence-based programs starting on page 18 that reviews how the law promotes evidence-based programs, how the evidence-based standards were developed, what the quality improvement requirements for evidence-based services are, and more.
Research Evidence Use by Child Welfare Agencies (PDF - 195 KB)
Wulczyn, Alpert, & Monahan-Price (2016)
CW360 Child Welfare Reform
Examines the use of child welfare research by policymakers, agency directors, and frontline staff to improve child welfare programs and how evidence-based practices could be better implemented for reform.
Towards Creating Synergy Among Policy, Procedures, and Implementation of Evidence-Based Models in Child Welfare Systems: Two Case Examples (PDF - 76 KB)
Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 20(1)
Describes how child welfare systems have been slow (compared to other systems) to adopt evidence-based interventions and offers two policy-based studies in child welfare that show success in scaling up research-based parenting skills into routine services delivered by child welfare practitioners.
How the Missouri Practice Model Transformed the State's Child Welfare System
American Bar Association
Explores how an evidence-based child- and family-centered practice model has successfully kept families involved in the system while changing organizational culture and sustaining change.
Implementing Evidence-Based Child Welfare: The New York City Experience (PDF - 1,587 KB)
Clara, Garcia, & Metz (2017)
Casey Family Programs
Describes an effort in New York City to introduce 11 evidence-based and evidence-informed practices into child welfare services and the results that showcase how to successfully integrate evidence-based models into practice.
New Jersey Taps Implementation Science to Improve Child Welfare Practices
Annie E. Casey Foundation (2017)
Describes an effort in New Jersey that used implementation science to launch evidence-based approaches to improve child welfare outcomes.
What Works Wisconsin: Effective Programs and Resources for Children, Youth and Families
University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Human Ecology & University of Wisconsin-Extension’s Family Living Programs
Highlights a project in the State of Wisconsin that focuses on the latest scientific knowledge on effective policies, practices, and programs for youth, their families, schools, and communities. What Works Wisconsin also provides links to information on topics such as evidence-informed program improvement processes and materials, evidence-based program registries, and evaluation resources.