Problems in Understanding Program Efficacy in Child Welfare (Chapter 21 in Re-Visioning Public Health Approaches For Protecting Children). (Child Maltreatment: Contemporary Issues In Research And Policy, Volume 9).
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Understanding program efficacy in child welfare is challenging due to the nature of how children and families are, or are not, served and the diversity in population characteristics, policy regimes and program components across regions. Additionally, there is increasing research interest in the effects of adding a new or evidence-based intervention to usual care. Although difficult, this chapter argues that answering questions of efficacy in child welfare is not impossible. This chapter is not a crash course on evaluation methodology, but rather a targeted discussion of the particular challenges related to conducting research on usual care and/or interventions combined with usual care. To provide structure, the discussion focuses on legislative child welfare goals of safety and permanency, but the issues raised are applicable to other outcomes of interest. The chapter concludes with suggestions for addressing research challenges to advance the knowledge base and improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. (Author abstract)
child welfare services; outcomes; evidence based practice; assessment; program evaluation; barriers; child safety; permanency; guidelines; research needs