ACF Evidence Capacity Support

The Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE) and program offices at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) are partnering to extend and deepen evidence capacity. Evidence capacity refers to a culture of, and infrastructure for, building and using evidence for learning and improvement. 

The project builds on OPRE’s existing efforts to augment evidence capacity at ACF and incorporates the principles of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 (Evidence Act). It prioritizes the learning needs of agency staff and stakeholders for information about the context, reach, implementation, performance, and impact of their programs. The project aims to strengthen the capacity for using evidence in five areas: 

  1. Evidence culture: the mindset of using evidence to guide decision making. 
  1. Evidence infrastructure: organizational resources, routines, and processes that enable the use of evidence. Examples include personnel, training and professional development, software and technology, and communication guidance.  
  1. Data access: availability of and access to high quality data to support performance management and decision making. Examples include data quality assurance processes and data documentation, data analysis, and tracking of indicators. 
  1. Knowledge and skills: understanding of available data and research on specific programs. 
  1. Dissemination: plans and activities to share data and evidence and show how the data and evidence inform decisions. 

The needs of participating program offices will drive the activities completed under this contract, in partnership with OPRE and the Mathematica-Child Trends team. Potential activities may include: 

  • Conducting needs assessments to inform learning agendas. This might include gathering information from stakeholders on needs and gaps for data to address, summarizing what is known for a topic, or convening workshops to define and map learning questions and data needs.  
  • Supporting program offices in using data to answer their high-priority questions. This might include understanding operational and reporting challenges for current data; assessing the availability, quality, organization, and opportunity for integrating these data; or working with offices to refine data.

This work is being led by Mathematica, in partnership with Child Trends.

Point(s) of contact: Nicole Deterding and Lisa Zingman.