With more and more federal programs requiring evidence-based approaches in order for continued funding, it is becoming increasingly important for social service organizations to have a strong grasp on evidence-based practice (EBP). So we thought it would be helpful to examine how the principles of EBP are currently being applied throughout the industry, along with some ideas on how we can expand our usage of this concept with the ultimate goal of improving service delivery and outcomes.
Continue reading for examples of what funders are looking for and how other organizations across the social services sector are using evidence-based practice models to produce better outcomes for their clients.
Examples of Evidence-Based Practice Models in the Social Services
Many organizations in a wide variety of sectors are using evidence-based practice models to improve service delivery and outcomes, and we can’t hope to touch on all of them in one article. However, we’ve selected a diverse offering of our favorites to help you get a sense of how a focus on evidence and outcomes can help your organization as well.
- Teen Outreach Program and BUILD Chicago: These two organizations both have gone through the process of becoming evidence-based and shared their experiences in this webinar. The presentation features these two renowned evidence-based organizations exploring some of the performance management issues related to adopting evidence-based practice models. The Teen Outreach Program (TOP) is referenced on SAMHSA’S National Registry of Evidence Based Programs and Practices and BUILD was chosen as a required replication model by in an Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) grant program.
- Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA): Increased attention to youth outcomes in the field of child and family services is welcome, but how can agencies handle the pressure to adopt evidence-based practices when no such practices have been proven for – or are culturally appropriate for – the populations they serve? This was the question facing NAYA when the state of Oregon passed legislation requiring that 75% of funds go to evidence-based programming.Using the approach of practice-based evidence –NAYA, the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the University of Portland involved service providers, service recipients and families in identifying culturally appropriate and strength-based outcome measures and examining youth outcomes in education and other areas. Results include improved academic outcomes and improvements in outcomes rarely discussed in mainstream research but highly valued by Native American youth. More information on their process is discussed in this webinar from Social Solutions.
- Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County: Evidence Based Associates released a report from the Children’s Services Council (CSC) on their process to becoming evidence-based. In the report, the CSC explains its decision to investigate evidence-based practice models by saying, “According to researchers, implementing evidence-based programs helps ensure that a program is based on a proven or tested theory of change. The results or client outcomes are directly related to the services received from the program.” They go on to explain the steps they will take in becoming evidence-based, the expected timeline and the benefits they anticipate. The report is an excellent resource for any other organization starting to consider utilizing an evidence based approach.
While these particular organizations are great examples of how organizations have improved their programs through the integration of evidence based approach, they represent only a small subsection of the many ways in which evidence-based practices are reshaping the social service sector. For individuals in social work, for examples, there are resources such as the Partnership to Promote Evidence-Based Practice from the Social Work Policy Institute which offer countless other resources.
The more we can understand how these evidence-based practice models are helping other organizations in our field, the more we will learn about how to apply them to our own work, helping us meet the ultimate goal of providing the best services possible to better the lives of our clients and the communities we serve.