If you believe your program or service model has a demonstrable impact on families in crisis, but lack the sort of high-quality study to prove it, the federal government will consider helping you out. An open-ended solicitation without any specified dollar amounts has gone from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) that invites programs to make their case that they deserve a major evaluation.
“We are seeking nominees who are willing to conduct a rigorous evaluation, which may involve randomly assigning clients to receive the intervention or to services as usual,” according to the notice from ACF.
Through the Supporting Evidence Building in Child Welfare Project, the agency will choose an unspecified number of programs and pair them with three partnering research outfits: the Urban Institute, Child Trends and Chapin Hall. Recipients will work with those partners on two separate studies, according to the ACF notice:
- An impact study to determine if the services provided lead to improved outcomes. This may involve the use of child welfare administrative data, interviews and/or assessments with clients who are receiving the service and a comparison group of clients who are not getting the service.
- An implementation study to understand the client population, how the services are provided, service components and other details. This may involve interviews with managers, staff or clients, as well as program data collection.
There is no hard rule on what types of services can seek inclusion, but it’s clear that ACF is looking to push along the field of upstream prevention of abuse and neglect, and field some more options under the Family First Prevention Services Act. The law was passed in 2018, and as of this October offers states new federal funds to help prevent the use of foster care in some cases.
Those services must be rated highly by a clearinghouse established in connection with the law. The clearinghouse was slow to start, and has thus far cleared nine different models that states can use, and ACF has already established a fast-track for states to get other programs cleared for so-called transitional payments.
Among the areas they specify interest in includes mental health, substance abuse, in-home parenting support and kinship navigator programs – all areas covered by the Family First Act.
Applicants have until August 30 to reach out with the required information. Click here to read the notice.