Implementation Science: Partnering with States to Implement Family First.

Author:Robinson, Travis
Position:From our partners - Family First Prevention Services Act

On February 9, 2018, the Federal Government turned public funding of child welfare in the United States on its head. The Family First Prevention Services Act (Family First) changed irrevocably the Title IV-E funding stream that states across the country use to help pay for public child welfare services. Most notably, states can now claim reimbursement for evidence-based prevention services.

Family First affects every state and locality in the United States. We at Public Consulting Group (PCG) have worked with 10 states and partnered with philanthropies and not-for-profits to help public child welfare respond to this sea change in federal funding and regulation. What we're seeing is a need for organizational and system-of-care changes on a massive scale, including contracting for services, workforce development, and fiscal operations. Congress has authorized $500 million through passage of the Family First Transition Act to help states make these needed changes.

Since the 1990s, a growing community of Implementation Science-focused change practitioners has studied what it takes to implement with fidelity evidence-based practices like those required by Family First's prevention provisions. What has emerged is a well-grounded set of tenets that can help states like yours make the most of your time-limited federal transition dollars.

Change implementers like PCG and states with whom we work draw on the tenets of Implementation Science to do the following: explore the details and environment surrounding desired changes, install an evidence-based practice that fits with identified needs and desires, implement that practice with consistency and fidelity, and scale the practice to generate ever greater impact.

PCG has developed the following checklist to help states implement evidence-based prevention practices for maximum impact:

First, explore your needs, wants, and assets by answering the following questions:

* What prevention practices are you currently using?

** Which are working well?

** How do you know?

* What is the evidence base of those practices that are working well?

** Which practices have been identified as promising or well supported (e.g., in the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse)?

** For practices not yet identified as well-supported, what kind of research could strengthen the evidence base?

* What major service gaps do you have?

** What promising or well-supported practices could help you fill your service gaps?

* What...

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