Selecting an evidence-based program

A guide for Communities for Children Facilitating Partners

This guide is designed to assist Communities for Children Facilitating Partners with the process of selecting a program from the evidence-based programme profiles, also known as “the guidebook”.

Evidence-based programs (EBP) have undergone a rigorous evaluation process and have demonstrated effectiveness with specific population groups. However, there is no guarantee that implementing an EBP will have the desired effect on your target group, and some programs will be more suited to your needs than others.

The questions below are designed to help you to assess for program “fit”, and identify any potential barriers to replicating a program successfully.

Identifying potential evidence-based programs

The first step is to make sure that the target group intended to benefit from the program is clearly defined along with the outcomes you want to see achieved (e.g. improved parent-child relationship).

Then ask:

  • How well do the outcomes you have identified as important for your target group match the outcomes associated with the EBP? Program outcomes are described in the evaluation and effectiveness section of the relevant programme profile.
  • Has the EBP been evaluated with a population group similar to your target audience? Consider any differences in age, language, individual characteristics and cultural identity. Be aware that the EBP might not have the same effect on your target audience if it was evaluated with a significantly different population group to yours.
  • Do you think that the EBP will need to be adapted to better suit the needs of your target group (e.g. making the program more culturally relevant)? Be aware that adapting core parts of the program may interfere with maintaining program fidelity so any adaptation needs to be considered carefully. If you think program adaptation will be necessary, you should discuss this with the program developer prior to choosing the program.
  • Are there any external factors that could interfere with the program “fit”? For example, does the potential program complement the mission of your organisation? Are there similar programs already being delivered in the community? Is there support from within your organisation for implementing the program?

Resourcing requirements

Once you have identified a program, or several programs of interest, the next step is determining how feasible it is for your organisation to run the program.

Ask:

  • What is the recommended program delivery format? Information about the delivery setting for each EBP is provided in the programme profiles (e.g. home-based, community-based or school-based). Consider whether your organisation is capable of delivering the program in the recommended way (facility requirements; existing partnerships) and whether the delivery method would pose any barriers for potential program participants (e.g. would participants want to attend?).
  • Does your organisation have the staffing capacity to facilitate the program? Consider:
    • the duration of the entire program as well as the time needed to run each session;
    • how many facilitators will be required to run program sessions; and
    • whether staff members have the necessary skill-set/qualifications needed to facilitate the program.
  • Identify any other requirements that are essential for the delivery of the program (e.g. equipment needs, program materials, childcare facilities). Establishing early on what is needed to run the program will help with anticipating the actual cost of running the program.

Preparing staff to deliver the program

Be aware of any particular training/facilitator requirements associated with the EBP.

Ask:

  • Do potential facilitators need to be trained in delivering the program or is having the facilitator manual sufficient?
  • If training is mandatory, how many staff members will need to attend? If you only intend on having one program facilitator, consider having a contingency plan in case that staff member leaves the organisation – facilitator training can be costly.
  • What facilitator training options does the EBP developer offer? Training is typically delivered on location by a representative of the EBP and is priced per person. However, some providers will offer in-house training. In-house training is delivered at your workplace and can be a good option for organisations that require several staff members to be trained in the program. 
  • Will staff need to undergo training on an ongoing-basis?
  • As EBPs may have a variety of training options attached to a program, it is a good idea to contact the program developer and check the following:
    • Does your preferred training option entitle you to facilitate the program and for how long?
    • What licensing arrangements are in place?
    • What materials are included in the training package (you might need to purchase additional program materials)?

Contact the program developer

The information provided in the Communities for Children Facilitating Partners evidence-based programme profiles will give you a basic understanding of how suitable a program is for your needs. However, it is a good idea to contact the program developer to confirm the details of any program you are considering running, particularly if adaptation is required. Contact details are provided in each programme profile.

Further resources related to choosing an evidence-based program, including information about fidelity and adaptation, are also available.