Sep 26, 2014
This document was produced by the Promising Practices Network (PPN) on Children, Families and Communities and was originally published online in 2013 as part of PPN's Issue Brief series. This brief provides an overview of evidence-based practices in child and family services, including definitions and criteria for identifying them. The document also lists resources about effective programs that improve outcomes for children and their families.
Between 1998 and 2014, the Promising Practices Network (PPN) on Children, Families and Communities website (www.promisingpractices.net) provided information on programs and practices that credible research indicated are effective in improving outcomes for children, youth, and families. This document was originally published as part of PPN's Issue Brief series, and it is intended to help PPN visitors understand some of the variation in how the field of child and family services defines "best available research evidence." The authors describe the history of evidence-based practices and review varying definitions of them, comparing the PPN criteria with those from other organizations.
While the specifics may differ, substantial similarities remain across resources for evidence-based practices in the requirements for a program to be labeled "evidence-based," "proven," a "model program," and so on. In making their judgments, some resources rely exclusively on very detailed and explicit requirements for each of the criteria, while others also employ expert judgment from a review panel. Strong research evidence on what works to improve outcomes in child and family services has proliferated in the past decade and a half, along with resources on evidence-based practices to help policymakers and others evaluate the burgeoning research. While there is debate on what constitutes an evidence-based practice, definitions have a number of evidence criteria in common. Decisionmakers can use resources such as PPN and others discussed in this document to identify evidence-based practices.