In the Read

Talking about ‘evidence’ again

This week’s ‘In the Read’ responds to deliberations about drawing on available evidence to inform program design, and identifying and using ‘evidence-based programs’. In a dream world, we’d know what works for whom and under what circumstances, ‘all’ the evidence would be in one place, and ‘re-inventing the wheel’ would be obsolete. The thing is though, you need to understand the basics about evidence and its relevance to your clients, circumstances and needs. What counts as good evidence reviews the extent to which it is possible to reach a workable consensus on ways of identifying and labelling research evidence. Hierarchies of evidence and good-enough evidence are discussed. The authors conclude “there is no simple answer to the question of what counts as good evidence. It depends on what we want to know, for what purposes, and in what contexts we envisage that evidence being used. Thus while there is a need to debate standards of evidence we should be realistic about the extent to which such standard–setting will shape complex, politicised, decision making by policymakers, service managers and local practitioners.”

Given interest in the uniqueness of kinship care, what follows are a few sites and those links to information about kinship care. The Penn State Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness helps military family professionals with the ‘right tools and information to keep our military families strong’. Two programs, Keeping Foster and Kinship Parents Trained and Supported (KEEP) and Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) come up in a kinship care search. The California Evidence-based Clearinghouse for Child Welfare is ‘a tool for identifying, selecting, and implementing evidence-based child welfare practices that will improve child safety, increase permanency, increase family and community stability, and promote child and family well-being.’ A number of programs and their evidence ratings were retrieved through a search on kinship caregiver support programs. Another US site, Child Welfare Information Gateway, ‘promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more.’ Check out the content about kinship care. The Campbell Collaboration produces and uses systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis for evidence based policy and practice. A systematic review summarising the findings from 102 studies – Kinship care for the safety, permanency and well-being of children removed from the home for maltreatment – was undertaken to examine whether kinship care is more effective than foster care.

Other examples are Blueprints for Health Youth Development, which ‘provides a registry of evidence-based positive youth development programs designed to promote the health and well-being of children and teens. Blueprints programs are family, school, and community-based and target all levels of need — from broad prevention programs that promote positive behaviours while decreasing negative behaviours, to highly-targeted programs for at-risk children and troubled teens that get them back on track’ and the Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health site which includes policy briefs (synthesising research evidence to inform decision making) and practice briefs (synthesising research evidence to inform practice).

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