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Implementation of Evidence-based Practice in Child Welfare: Service Provider Perspectives

Abstract

Implementation of evidence-based practices (EBP) in child welfare is a complex process that is often fraught with unanticipated events, conflicts, and resolutions. To some extent, the nature of the process, problems, and solutions may be dependent on the perspectives and experiences of a given stakeholder group. In order to better understand the implementation process in the child-welfare system, we interviewed comprehensive home-based services (CHBS) case managers who were actively engaged in implementing an EBP to reduce child neglect in a state youth services system. Six primary factors were identified as critical determinants of EBP implementation: (1) Acceptability of the EBP to the caseworker and to the family, (2) Suitability of the EBP to the needs of the family, (3) Caseworker motivations for using the EBP, (4) Experiences with being trained in the EBP, (5) Extent of organizational support for EBP implementation, and (6) Impact of EBP on process and outcome of services. These factors reflect two broader themes of attitudes toward or assessments of the EBP itself and experiences with learning and delivering the EBP. Eventual implementation is viewed as the consequence of perseverance, experience, and flexibility.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank Dena Plemmons, Ph.D. for conducting field interviews and Tamiko Wong, B.A. for work on data coding. We also thank the participant case managers and trainers for their time and perspectives on implementation. This project was supported by NIH grants: R01MH072961 and R24MH067377.

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Correspondence to Gregory A. Aarons.

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Aarons, G.A., Palinkas, L.A. Implementation of Evidence-based Practice in Child Welfare: Service Provider Perspectives. Adm Policy Ment Health 34, 411–419 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-007-0121-3

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Keywords

  • Implementation
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Child-welfare