Sunday, January 20, 2019: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Golden Gate 7, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Social Work Practice (SWP)
Jennifer Haight, MA, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, Britany Binkowski, JD, TN DCS, Tami Walker, MSW, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago and Kerry Price, MA, Chapin Hall
In recent years, the field of child welfare has begun to embrace the importance of evidence-based decision making. Most salient for agency leaders and managers is the call to implement evidence-based interventions with children and families—i.e., practices shown by research to be effective. However, the selection of an intervention or any change to business as usual is not the only juncture at which evidence must inform an adjustment to policy or practice. In fact, developing a sound improvement plan requires one to make three essential claims: (1) I observe some problem that needs improvement, (2) I think it's because of the following reason, (3) So I plan to implement this new intervention, which I think will result in an improvement to the outcome. To ensure that these claims combine to create a sound theory of change and result in a plan that has the potential to bear fruit, leaders and managers creating performance improvement plans must back each claim up with evidence: Observed problems must be rooted in analysis that is representative and free of bias. There should be evidence that hypothesized causes are associated with the outcome in question. Selected interventions should show evidence of prior effectiveness, or at least contain elements designed to interrupt the source of the problem. In other words, there is a discipline to acquiring, interpreting, and applying the right type of evidence at the right time during the problem solving process. In this way, evidence-based decision making is very much a behavior. As such, efforts to improve child welfare staff's evidence use should take a behavioral approach. In this roundtable, the first two speakers will introduce EDGE: Evidence-Driven Goals & Excellence, a long term, cohort based evidence use training program aimed at improving evidence based decision making among child welfare leaders and managers. Taking a behavioral approach, EDGE recognizes that in order to improve participants' evidence use, an intervention must improve their capability (i.e., the knowledge and skills required for acquiring, interpreting, and applying evidence), their motivation (i.e., their desire and inclination to use evidence to make decisions), and their opportunity (i.e., the tangible and cultural aspects of the work environment that make evidence use possible). The next speaker will reflect on EDGE from the perspective of the child welfare agency. She will talk about the department's role in EDGE as a human capital investment, and discuss ways in which state agencies can shape the environment in order to facilitate, diffuse, and sustain evidence-based decision making throughout the agency. The last two speakers will discuss research methods involved in measuring EDGE's effectiveness. They will discuss the efforts piloted to date in terms of quantitative and qualitative evaluation, as well as the challenges in operationalizing the numerous dimensions of evidence use (frequency, quality, stage of the problem solving process).
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