Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Defining Core Functions and Developing Fidelity Measures for Child Welfare Interventions

Friday, November 13, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Emily Fisher, JBS International, Inc. and Roseana Bess, JBS International
The goal of the Permanency Innovations Initiative (PII) is to expand the evidence base of innovative solutions to reduce the number of children in long-term foster care and to ensure that evidence-informed implementation processes are in use. To that end, the PII Training and Technical Assistance Project (PII-TTAP) provides grantees support that is informed by implementation science and child welfare best practices. The goal of PII-TTAP is to help the six PII grantees identify and successfully implement evidence-based interventions or develop or adapt evidence-supported innovations and implement them with integrity. By integrating implementation science and child welfare best practices, the PII-TTAP approach to training and technical assistance supports grantees in completing a series of activities to develop an innovation and then implement it while working to build evidence related to child welfare programs.

The PII-TTAP Approach to implementation requires the development of a well-defined, clearly operationalized intervention. Ensuring the intervention is being implemented as intended, through the creation of a fidelity assessment and its’ associated processes is also necessary for a rigorous evaluation.   This paper focuses on concrete methods and tools to (1) fully define or adapt essential functions of interventions and then put those components into operation before beginning service delivery and (2) develop effective fidelity measures and a fidelity monitoring process to ensure that interventions are practiced as intended. The objective of this paper is to describe the application of the science-informed training and technical assistance approach to developing and operationalizing innovations in a child welfare setting. Using experiences of the PII grantees as examples, we combine discussion of the process with case examples to illustrate the process.

The paper also highlights lessons learned and common challenges experienced by grantees throughout this process of defining and carefully implementing the essential functions of the interventions, as well as developing practical fidelity measures to track and support adherence to the new practice. Many lessons learned by grantees are applicable across a wide variety of child welfare settings, programs, interventions, and populations, whereas others may be more targeted to PII’s focus on reducing long-term foster care. Focusing on broadly applicable lessons, we use specific grantee examples to illustrate the nature of implementation challenges and how they may be addressed.