Session: How to Make Program and Policy Evaluation Findings Actionable for Decision-Makers (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

All in-person and virtual presentations are in Mountain Standard Time Zone (MST).

SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

208 How to Make Program and Policy Evaluation Findings Actionable for Decision-Makers

Saturday, January 14, 2023: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Encanto A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Organizations & Management
Pamela Lilleston, PhD, New Jersey Department of Children and Families
Pamela Lilleston, PhD, New Jersey Department of Children and Families, Katie Barghaus, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, Allison Thompson, PhD, City of Philadelphia Office of Children and Families, Ida Tamarin, MPA/ID, County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency and Kalee Singh, DrPH, County of Santa Clara Social Services Agency
Social work researchers are well positioned to influence policy and programs. The field of child welfare is increasingly emphasizing the use of research evidence to inform decision-making and the integration of evidence-based interventions into service provision for children and families. For example, the Family First Prevention Services Act provides financial incentives for jurisdictions to utilize evidence-based practices and to engage in rigorous implementation and outcome evaluations. Program and policy evaluations provide valuable information regarding the outcomes of social work interventions, barriers and opportunities related to implementation and uptake of services. Yet, barriers persist in the use of evaluation findings and recommendations to improve service provision, and many evaluations fail to make any real-world impact. Researchers can play an important role in ensuring their findings are actionable for decision-makers.

This roundtable brings together researchers from public and private sectors to discuss barriers to uptake of research evidence among practitioners and policymakers, as well as strategies to make evaluation results actionable for decision-makers. Strategies to be discussed include aligning evaluation topics with institutional priorities, answering evaluation questions that are meaningful to key stakeholders, aligning evaluation and decision-making timelines, developing non-traditional deliverables that meet the needs of decision-makers, co-creating recommendations with evaluation stakeholders and asking for a seat at the table when decisions are being made about the program or policy evaluated.

Panelists will also provide case studies to illustrate how collaborative strategies and built infrastructure have been implemented in diverse contexts. For example, the City of Philadelphia's Office of Children and Families and New Jersey's Department of Children and Families have developed External Research Review Committees to ensure academic research partnerships produce actionable, direct benefits to families and are responsive to agency priorities. The committees are comprised of cross-disciplinary researchers, attorneys, and content experts that work directly with academic partners to facilitate communication and partnership at all stages of the design, implementation, and dissemination processes. Another example, Santa Clara County is evaluating their redesigned Continuum-of-Care, a system of individualized and home-based foster care for children. Researchers will share their experiences using implementation science tools to mobilize action for data-driven program improvements.

During this session, senior researchers from public agencies will share lessons learned about how to design and implement studies that drive system transformation. Likewise, executive leadership from a university-based actionable research center will discuss strategies to effectively partner with public leaders in impactful research. Together, panelists will highlight exemplary studies that embody the co-creation model, make use of continuous quality improvement techniques, and generate actionable change and system-level improvements. One example is the Entry Rate and Disproportionality Study, a collaboration among a public child welfare agency, a major research university, and a child welfare foundation. This mixed methods study uses large administrative data and interviews with staff and families to understand and reduce ethno-racial disproportionality in out-of-home child welfare placement.

Finally, panelists will engage session participants in a facilitated, interactive discussion about improving academic partnerships with public agencies to promote impactful research studies that improve services and systems for families.

See more of: Roundtables