• January 2014
  • Vol. 15, No. 1

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Building Capacity for Evidence-Based Practice

In recent years, the Federal Government has made the funding and development of evidence-based practices a top priority within the child welfare field. Despite these policy directives, many State and local programs lack the capacity to effectively implement and sustain evidence-based programs. Furthermore, the research literature on capacity is limited. A recent article in Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services features a case study that addresses some of the gaps in the evidence-based capacity-building literature.

The study used the Prevention Support Systems (PSS) element of the Interactive Systems Framework for Dissemination and Implementation (ISF) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the organizing theory to examine a real-world example of a federally funded evidence-based practice implementation. The PSS element of the ISF model describes support structures that are needed for full delivery and implementation of research-based initiatives.

The case study was conducted in two States, Kansas and Nebraska, which were chosen because they were early adopters of evidence-based practice and exploring pathways to capacity building and systems change. Kansas used standardized measurements, requests for proposals, and self-assessment and quality improvement tools within their grant-making process, while Nebraska utilized State partnership and community collaboration development. The study showed that both States experienced successes in increasing the use of evidence-based practices in prevention efforts with the help of the multilevel PSS framework.

The article concludes by discussing lessons learned from the study and providing recommendations for building stronger implementation capacity.

"Translating Evidence-Based Policy to Practice: A Multilevel Partnership Using the Interactive Systems Framework," by Melissa Brodowski, Jacqueline Counts, Rebecca Gillam, Linda Baker, Valerie Collins, Edi Winkle, et al., Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services, 94(3), is available for purchase through the journal website:


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