Understanding the Evidence: New Tool for Social Service Providers

The Family and Youth Services Bureau emphasizes the importance of evidence-based practice in all its grant programs. Grantees are encouraged to visit a new website launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help social service providers make evidence-based decisions by teaching them how to gather, interpret and apply information. The site, called “Understanding Evidence,” targets professionals working to prevent violence but has useful insights for anyone in the youth and family services field.

Using a combination of graphics, polls and expert interviews to keep users engaged, the CDC presents “Understanding Evidence” in four short modules:

  • The introduction explains a basic decision-making framework using three types of evidence.
  • “Best Available Research Evidence” offers tips for finding evidence in the research literature and then determining whether that information has been appropriately tested.
  • “Experiential Evidence” helps users understand how they can gather information about real-world experiences from others in the field or community.
  • “Contextual Evidence" asks practitioners to think of specific details related to their project, such as commonly held values in their community or recurring challenges working with their target population, to help them decide if an evidence-based program will work in that particular setting.

In addition to the four training modules, “Understanding Evidence” features case studies and a glossary of definitions. Users who have already selected a program or model for their organization can use the CDC’s free assessment tool to determine where the intervention falls on the continuum of effectiveness.