Methods: This symposium features findings from three complementary qualitative studies focused on implementation support factors that promote the sustained use of evidence (i.e., uptake of research evidence or evidence-based programs and services) in child welfare systems. Each study draws from rich qualitative data, provided by 17 highly experienced implementation support practitioners (ISPs).
Results: The first study, entitled "Implementation Support Strategies to Promote the Use of Evidence in Child Welfare Systems," will feature findings related to prominent implementation support strategies used by experienced ISPs, particularly in child welfare systems, to promote the use of evidence. The second study, entitled "The Role of Stakeholder Engagement in Bolstering the Use of Evidence in Child Welfare Systems," will feature findings related to the role of stakeholder engagement in implementation support processes intended to support the use of evidence in child welfare systems. The third and final study, entitled "Understanding How Approaches to Implementation Support Have Evolved Over Time to Advance Improved and Equitable Outcomes in Child Welfare Systems," will feature findings related to general patterns in how ISPs approach promoting evidence use and the ways in which ISPs have evolved their approach to more effectively and sustainably promote the use of evidence in child welfare systems to benefit children and families.
Conclusions and Implications: Together, the content of this symposium highlights the range of skills needed to support implementation and evidence use in child welfare systems. In addition to guiding principles for approaching their work, ISPs require a broad range of competencies that include technical skills (e.g., data utilization) and relational skills (e.g., brokering). Study findings also suggest that experienced ISPs dedicate as much time to co-creating, promoting stakeholder engagement, and building relationships with their partners as they do conducting common strategies such as needs assessments or improvement cycles. It is possible that implementation science, broadly speaking, has overly emphasized technical skills, often related to problem identification, strategy selection, and use of data for continuous improvement. Findings featured in this symposium situate trusting relationships, and the relational skills needed to cultivate them, at the center of promising future directions for implementation research and practice.