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June 2013Vol. 14, No. 5Quality Implementation of Child-Serving Programs

A recent issue brief from the Administration for Children and Families' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) explores the importance of quality implementation for programs serving children and youth. The author, Joseph Durlak, notes that when evidence-based programs for this population are poorly implemented, the potential for achieving positive outcomes is reduced and already-limited public resources are wasted. The issue brief defines quality implementation, explains its importance, and presents 23 factors that can improve implementation and program effectiveness.

Implementation, according to the brief, requires a collaborative effort and is the mutual responsibility of all stakeholder groups. The 23 factors that affect implementation are grouped into five categories: (1) communitywide or societal factors, (2) practitioner characteristics, (3) characteristics of the program, (4) factors related to the organization hosting the program, and (5) factors specific to the implementation process. While rarely perfect, the brief notes that quality implementation is achieved in three phases that consist of 14 steps.

A list of lessons learned concludes the report, and the Appendix presents resources that provide assistance on selecting and implementing programs.

The Importance of Quality Implementation for Research, Practice, and Policy, by Joseph Durlak, Ph.D., Loyola University, is available on the ASPE website:  (300 KB)