Opportunities and Challenges in Evidence-based Social Policy

Lauren Supplee and Allison Metz
Drawing on experiences scaling evidence-based programs nationally, the authors of this Social Policy Report raise a number of challenges faced by the field to ensure high-quality implementation and discuss specific proposals, particularly for the research and university communities, for moving the field forward.

Lauren H. Supplee, Administration for Children and Families
Allison Metz, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, National Implementation Research Network

Despite a robust body of evidence of effectiveness of social programs, few evidence-based programs have been scaled
for population-level improvement in social problems. Since 2010 the federal government has invested in evidence-based social policy by supporting a number of new evidence-based programs and grant initiatives. These initiatives prioritize federal funding for intervention or prevention programs that have evidence of ef fectiveness in impact research. The increased attention to evidence in funding decision making is promising; however, to maximize the potential for positive outcomes for children and families, communities need to select programs that fit their needs and resources, the programs need to be implemented with quality, and communities need ongoing support. Drawing on experiences scaling evidence-based programs nationally, the authors raise a number of challenges faced by the field to ensure high-quality implementation and discuss specific proposals, particularly for the research and university communities, for moving the field forward. Recommendations include designing and testing intervention and prevention programs with an eye towards scaling from the start, increased documentation related to implementation of the programs, and working toward an infrastructure to support high-quality, effective dissemination of evidence-based
prevention and intervention programs.