Due to vast technological advances, the ability to collect and assess data as social service providers has improved dramatically throughout the late 20th and early 21st centuries. As a result, evidence-based practice models are becoming more widespread.
Furthermore, funders, both private foundations and governmental organizations, are starting to insist more and more on the use of evidence-based practices in social work fields. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for anyone working in the social services sector to have a solid understanding of evidence-based practice models.
Keep reading to learn more about the types and components of evidence-based practice models and how they can affect your organization’s work.
Before we look at the types of models out there, it is important first to understand what constitutes an evidence-based practice. According to the National Association of Social Workers:
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services.
Because our ease of access to information has improved drastically in the past few decades, acquiring evidence is a much simpler process and has undoubtedly prompted the move towards evidence-based approaches. However, evidence-based practice implies more than simply acquiring data. According to the Council on Social Work Education, there are five important steps involved in any evidence-based practice model.
This last step is particularly significant because evidence-based practice models need to continuously improve if they are to be effective. As a result, each new case should be considered additional evidence and analyzed along with the pre-existing data. This kind of perspective helps our social service practices continue to keep pace with a changing world.
While much could be written about evidence-based practice models, we are just going to touch on a few key concepts and models, as well as resources where you can obtain additional information.
Stages of Change: The Stages of Change model involves progress through a series of stages and is designed to evaluate an individual’s readiness to change. Like other evidence-based practice models, it allows for evidence to be considered and taken into account regularly throughout the process. There is an inherent feedback loop that considers the patients’ needs and progress.
Parents as Teachers (PAT): This model is one of the performance models that accompany Social Solutions software. It is designed to meet the needs of those who receive federal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program funding.
Perform Well: PerformWell is a website that helps provide information about performance management to nonprofit professionals. The site includes information on a number of different evidence-based practice models that organizations can avail themselves of.
While not a model, per se, there are also numerous tools available to organizations looking to implement evidence-based practice models. For example, the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development is an interactive website that helps organizations identify and fund scientifically proven programs. Similarly, Issue Lab by Candid has put together a collection of practical information to help you build your evaluation capacity and measure results. These resources can help organizations learn what tools are out there to aid them in measuring outcomes and utilizing evidence.
On a national level, the social sector is just beginning to understand what evidence-based practice models can look like and how they will help organizations and participants succeed. More models are sure to emerge that will offer better standards for implementing evidence-based approaches. Resources like this one from the Promising Practices Network are helping organizations begin to look at how to create evidence-based practice models that meet the highest standards currently set in the industry.
Furthermore, with the widespread use of software like Social Solutions’ Technology, the ability to collect and analyze data will continue to improve drastically, enabling even better outcomes for clients and constituents through the use of evidence-based case management and other evidence-based practices.
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