DHS News September 2013
Practices Examined to Improve Child Welfare Outcomes
“Evidence-Based Practices” (EBP) is among the terms more DHS
staff, providers and stakeholders will be seeing with increasing frequency as
various department initiatives – especially the Child
Welfare Demonstration Project (CWDP) – are rolled out in the Office of
Children, Youth and Families.
While not a new
concept, having been incorporated extensively in behavioral and physical health
approaches to treatment, EBPs are relatively new in their application to child
welfare, said Abigail Horn, Senior Advisor in the Office of Data Analysis,
Research and Evaluation (DARE).
Abby is part of a working group, comprising DARE and
Children, Youth and Families (CYF) administrators, that is examining EBPs for
incorporation into Allegheny County’s child welfare service delivery system. The federal government is encouraging local
entities to use Evidence-Based Practices, and DHS administrators agree that
providing more will improve outcomes for children and families, which is a
chief goal of the CWDP.
What are Evidence-Based
The definition of them can
vary, but basically, they are interventions that have passed rigorous evaluations
at multiple sites nationwide; yield measurable results; and are recognized
nationally by experts. They have solidly and professionally demonstrated their
effectiveness, and can be used to improve the quality of services offered by
“They are ‘brand names,’”
Abby said. That is not to say that DHS
will impose EBPs on providers, she quickly added. Part of the working group’s
job is to inventory the promising practices that are being implemented now by
“We recognize that there are
certain practices that are in use that may be every bit as effective as nationally
known evidence-based models,” Abby said. But those practices would have to be
backed up with solid evidence that they produce strong outcomes.
Currently, sometimes services
for which the county is billed are not as specific as they could be, and a term
such as “in-home services” does not provide enough information to track effectiveness.
The EBP working group is devising an implementation plan that includes
reviewing existing practices and those EBPs that Pennsylvania’s participants in
the CWDP agreed would be used by all counties. The other counties participating
in the CWDP are Philadelphia, Venango, Lackawanna and Dauphin.
Expansion of the requirement
to use Evidence-Based Practices will continue through the fiscal year,
specifically in non-placement services.
The working group is led by
CYF Deputy Director Walter Smith and DARE Deputy Director Erin Dalton. Besides
Abby, group members include Doug Spencer, consultant to the
Conferencing and Teaming Initiative; and Michael Yonas, DARE
Director of Research and Engagement.
For more about Evidence-Based
Practices, go to http://www.alleghenycounty.us/dhs/ai/evidence-based_practices.aspx.
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