Choosing a program from the CfC FP 'Guidebook'
Advice for Communities for Children Facilitating Partners (CfC FP)
About this resource
This information is for organisations running programs funded by the Department of Social Services (DSS) under the Communities for Children Facilitating Partners sub-activity of the Families and Children Activity.
Choose an existing program
One way of meeting the 50% evidence-based program requirement for Communities for Children Facilitating Partners is to choose from a list of existing programs that have been approved as evidence-based.
See the list of evidence-based programs, aka The Guidebook.
Choosing the right program
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
How do you know which of the approved evidence-based programs is right for you?
Consider these factors:
- Program match: How well the program fits your organisation, your target audience, and the specific risk factors or problems you want to address.
- Required and available resources: The people, skills, money and time you would need to implement the program, and what you currently have available.
- Program quality: Evidence that the program achieves the desired outcomes. All programs on the approved list meet this criterion.
If you want to adapt an existing program, talk to the program developer. Someone else may have already adapted the program in a way that meets your needs.
Any adaptations need to stay true to the design of the original program. Changing a program too much might affect the outcomes it’s designed to achieve.
Not all changes make outcomes worse. For example, adapting language or imagery to reflect the target audience might be a positive change that helps achieve the desired outcomes.
But some changes make it harder to achieve the right outcomes, for example removing parts of the program or reducing the number of sessions.
Questions to ask when selecting an evidence-based program
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 program 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?
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. Then ask:
- What is the recommended program delivery format? Information about the delivery setting for each EBP is provided in the program 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
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 program profile.
How we select programs
When assessing programs for our list of evidence-based programs (aka The Guidebook), we look for programs that have been tested with high quality evaluations and are easy to replicate, with training or manuals easily accessible in Australia.
To find the best quality programs available, we review international databases and clearinghouses, and Australian best practice and promising practice guides and assessments.
A program needs to meet these criteria to be classed as evidence-based:
- The objectives of the program are in line with the objectives of the Communities for Children Facilitating Partner model.
- The program is primarily targeted at children aged 0–12 years and their families.
- The program must have the following documented information readily available:
- aims, objectives and a theoretical basis for the program
- a program logic or similar
- the target group for the program is clearly articulated
- elements/activities of the program and why they are important.
- The program should include a training manual or documentation that allows for replication within Australia.
Evaluation of the program must have been undertaken with the following characteristics:
- Impact: At least one high quality evaluation has been conducted that showed positive impacts on the desired outcomes of the program(s), and no negative effects were found. The program must have been evaluated in a cultural setting that is similar to Australia.
- Design (one or more of):
- A randomised controlled trial or quasi-experimental design that has a sample size of at least 20 participants in each of the intervention and control groups.
- High-quality qualitative evaluation that includes at least 20 participants. The assessment of quality relies on availability of information about factors such as the selection/inclusion/recruitment processes, the nature and representativeness of the sample, the process for administering data collection tools, and the degree of independence from the program developer/implementer.
- A high-quality combination of the above (mixed methods).
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