Evidence for Program Improvement

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Evidence for Program Improvement is an innovative, flexible approach to evidence-based practice built on the core components of effective youth programs. Core components (PDF, 3 pages) are the parts, features, attributes, or characteristics of an intervention that research shows are associated with its success. Because many aspects of a program can contribute to successful outcomes, core components can be the activities or content within a program (e.g., mindfulness instruction or anger management training), how a program is delivered (e.g., in a group, individually), who delivers a program (e.g., social workers, teachers), the program’s length and frequency, and even implementation strategies such as whether and how providers are trained and supervised. We use an extensive array of high-quality research on programs for vulnerable children and youth to identify the components that the evidence shows are related to improved youth outcomes. These core components form the basis of our modular, improvement-focused practice recommendations.  

Each of our recommendations begins with a description and a summary of the evidence from our analysis that supports the recommendation. Each recommendation has a set of “Assess Feasibility” steps designed to help you consider the alignment of your program with the recommendation and determine if it is feasible to make a change. A set of “Take Action” suggestions offers specific ideas for how the recommendation could be incorporated into existing programs. The recommendations should be viewed as a “menu” of options from which to choose based on your local circumstances.  

There are three steps to use the recommendations:


Find Recommendations

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