Methods. Symposium papers reflected a 2016-2019 W.T. Grant Foundation-funded, two-phase study focused upon improving PCWA performance with evidence. The sample included members of state/national associations of PCWAs in six states. Phase I involved an electronic survey of PCWA managers (N=229; response rate=52%). Quantitative analyses (symposium papers 1-3) involved cluster analysis and multivariate (negative binomial and multinomial logistic) regression. In Phase 2, 11 agencies were selected from the Phase 1 PCWAs (using maximum variation sampling) for in-depth case studies regarding the ways identified supports affect evidence use by staff at multiple levels. Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 259 unique key informants. Qualitative thematic analysis (symposium paper 4) explored frontline perceptions of the organizational environment for evidence use as well as promotive factors and challenges.
Results. Paper 1 (Characterizing Organizational Complexity within PCWAs: An Empirical Typology Study) identified the panoramic context of PCWAs by developing an organizational complexity typology, examining clusters of agencies regarding agency structure and interorganizational ties. Paper 2 (Fiscal-Institutional Determinants of Organizational Infrastructure to Support Research Evidence Use in PCWAs) examined outer-contextual predictors of four types of organizational infrastructure in terms of contractual and funding requirements and structures. Paper 3 (Organizational Supports and Evidence Use Among PCWA Managers) reported on the relationship between managerial evidence use and different classifications of agencies based upon their available organizational supports. Paper 4 (Promoting Frontline Worker Evidence Use in PCWAs) analyzed qualitative frontline worker data regarding the types of evidence typically used, how it is used, and their perceptions of the organizational supports in place to promote it.
Conclusions/Implications. The symposium papers provide a comprehensive understanding of the context and involvement of PCWAs in supporting evidence use. Substantively, our findings cohere around promising strategies for social work managers to promote outcome achievement for child welfare-involved children and families by facilitating use of a variety of evidence in organizational and frontline decision-making through managerial practice and organizational infrastructure investments. Symposium papers also provide practical knowledge for advocates and policymakers interested in promoting evidence-informed practices in human service organizations.