Human-centered Design for Human Services (HCD4HS), 2018 - 2021

Project Overview

Project Overview

Human-centered design (HCD), also known as “design thinking,” is an applied research and design framework for organizational innovation. Though specific definitions vary, HCD typically involves a team of individuals working together to solve a problem through a process that generates a deep sense of understanding and empathy for the end-user (e.g., a client or customer). HCD includes the human perspective throughout the process of creating and implementing solutions. The approach is popular in the technology and private sectors, where it is typically used for rapid product development. Given its focus on both organizational innovation and empathy for the user, HCD also has great appeal within the public sector.

In this project, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is exploring the application of HCD across its service delivery programs at the federal, state, and local levels. To date, little is known regarding what HCD looks like in the context of human services, the requirements for implementation across a range of programs; the measurable outcomes and effectiveness of HCD approaches; the evaluability of HCD approaches; or the sustainability of HCD approaches.

The overall purposes of the project are to:

  • define human-centered design in the context of delivery of human services;
  • identify programs that are currently implementing or have recently implemented human-centered design approaches in human services programs, and describe the current state of the field;
  • conduct a pilot study to help understand the feasibility of this approach in human services programs, the requirements for implementation, the evaluability, sustainability, and key outcomes of interest to ACF programs.

OPRE has contracted with Child Trends, with subcontracts to Anthro-Tech, Inc., and MEF Associates, to conduct this work.

The points of contact are Erin Cannon, Kathleen Dwyer, and Valeria Butler.