Also of critical importance is ensuring that the evaluation research efforts are designed to address the questions needing answering. This can require that the research team, including agency and consumer involvement implement culturally congruent methods and consider not only the funding available for the evaluation design, but also the culture of the agencies and the clients that are served. Participatory research designs, qualitative methods and randomized experiments will be considered within the context of child welfare evaluation research.
At the federal level, the U.S. Children's Bureau has taken several steps to enhance knowledge development, knowledge transfer and implementation at the individual, organizational and systems level. In Fiscal Year 2009, it added to its training and technical assistance network, five regional implementation centers. Among these centers' roles will be to facilitate systemic change and build capacity for successful institutionalization of child welfare principles, policies, and effective or promising models of practice. Another Children's Bureau initiative was the May 2008 National Child Welfare Evaluation Summit. Over 450 stakeholders convened to explore the current state of evaluation practice in child welfare and to inform child welfare systems as they strive to develop cohesive and strategic approaches for evaluating the programs and projects that they fund. The summit focused on evaluation approaches, methods, findings, challenges, and critical issues related to testing of interventions, implementing change, and transferring knowledge at the individual practice, organizational, and systems levels. The Summit also provided a forum to discuss dynamic tensions, like those between theory and practice, rigor and flexibility, fidelity and adaptability, and evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence in the field of child welfare.
This roundtable will bring together these several initiatives targeted to capacity-building and enhancing the child welfare evaluation research endeavor to explore current issues and to engage in a dialogue with participants about opportunities and challenges of future efforts.