Cover: Navigating Funding Cliffs

Navigating Funding Cliffs

An Exploration of the Dynamic Contextual Factors That Influence Evidence-Based Practice Sustainment

Published in: Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) Open (2024). DOI: 10.1016/j.jaacop.2024.02.002

Posted on Apr 18, 2024

by Kerry Lindquist, Sapna J. Mendon-Plasek, George Timmins, Alex R. Dopp, Sarah B. Hunter


Contextual factors exert dynamic influences on sustainment of evidence-based practice (EBP) after grant funding ends (ie, funding cliffs), but how these factors change over time remains poorly understood. Exploring the factors that affect EBP sustainment trajectories can help explain how community-based treatment organizations navigate funding cliffs.


The study sample comprised 51 community-based treatment organizations drawn from national cohorts that completed federal grants to implement the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach (A-CRA), a youth substance use EBP. Interviews were conducted with clinical staff (N=129) across 2 or 3 annual waves. Interviews focused on staff perspectives about A-CRA sustainment. Based on interview field notes, a longitudinal thematic analysis was conducted to identify influences on organizational sustainment trajectories (ie, pivotal moments, transitions, driving forces, and slow burn processes).


The end of grant funding triggered numerous sustainment challenges. Pivotal moment events, such as receiving additional funding for A-CRA, helped mitigate the consequences of funding cliffs. Transitions, such as staff turnover, generally impeded sustainment, as organizations had to reinvest in A-CRA-trained staff. Other factors exerted effects that were either directly connected to A-CRA (driving forces), such as committed leadership that fostered staff buy-in, or were more indirectly related (slow burns), such as client population characteristics that made A-CRA delivery challenging.


These results illustrate how interrelated processes influence EBP sustainment trajectories. Although organizations may exhibit a pattern of supports for sustainment of EBP, these factors can change over time and do not guarantee future sustainment. These findings also can inform strategies for strengthening EBP sustainment.

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