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May 2018Vol. 19, No. 4Strategies to Promote Research Use in Child Welfare

Research is integral in ensuring that the services children and families receive from child welfare agencies are effective in achieving positive outcomes.  It can be difficult for agencies to sift through all the research material they may receive, whether it is generated internally or externally, and, therefore, agency leaders may be unable to meaningfully utilize that information in policy development or program design.

Casey Family Programs created a report that lists potential research utilization strategies across several domains to help researchers and organizations develop approaches to improve and inform their policy, program, and practice decisions. For each strategy, the report provides a detailed definition, an example of use within the child welfare field, the impact of the strategy, and key factors to consider.

Strategies include the following:

  • Develop trusting relationships—This includes connecting with intermediaries (i.e., organizations and/or individuals that can help with identifying, adopting, and implementing evidence-based best practices) and developing mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Engage in open and productive communication—This includes exchanging ideas, creating opportunities for collaborative problem solving, and ensuring more effective decision-making.
  • Engage stakeholders and advocates—This includes making use of change agents (i.e., an individual who influences innovation within an organization), building awareness through community mobilization, and identifying and using social networks.
  • Make research accessible—This includes reporting findings in plain language, presenting research in interesting and understandable ways, and translating research into specific directions for practice.
  • Increase stakeholder investment—This includes finding approaches to ensure the study design allows for findings that can be readily applied to policy, planning, management, or practice and using participatory methods of dissemination.
  • Help to ensure sustained use of research—This includes building leadership and staff capacity to apply new research evidence to designing and implementing programs and collecting and using data to monitor program fidelity.

Strategies to Promote Research Use in Child Welfare, is available at (673 KB).