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July/August 2013Vol. 14, No. 6Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice

A new guide from the Vera Institute can help human services professionals and agencies prepare for and conduct an outcomes evaluation to determine if their services are evidence based. While targeted toward juvenile justice programs, the authors note that this guide is applicable to other social service fields, because the guidelines can be replicated across disciplines. The outcomes evaluation includes the following steps:

  • Determine if the program is true to its original plan. A process evaluation of the program should be conducted. The authors define a process evaluation as an assessment to help determine if the program is operating the way it was designed.
  • Conduct an outcomes evaluation. The evaluation should be conducted with a study group and a control group. These data are essential to this process and may contain administrative data, supplemental data, and data from other sources. Some organizations may need to partner with a university or professional research organization to help them conduct the evaluation.
  • Identify next steps. The next steps will be program-specific and based on data. The data may indicate client needs that were not otherwise specified, or a program might also use their outcome evaluation in an attempt to become a nationally recognized model program.

Measuring Success: A Guide to Becoming an Evidence-Based Practice, by Jennifer Fratello, Tarika Daftary Kapur, and Alice Chasan, Vera Institute, Center on Youth Justice, is available on the Vera Institute website: (505 KB)