The Permanency Innovations Initiative:  An Example of Building Evidence in Child Welfare

The Permanency Innovations Initiative: An Example of Building Evidence in Child Welfare

Narrator: The Permanency
Innovations Initiative (PII): An Example of Building
Evidence in Child Welfare. In recent years,
there has been a growing Federal and state interest in using evidence to inform
programs and policy, known as evidence-based
policy making. The Administration for Children
and Families (or ACF) is leading many such efforts. According to Naomi Goldstein, ACF’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Planning, Research and Evaluation… ACF’s Permanency Innovations
Initiative, or PII, is a five-year,
Presidential initiative led by the Children’s Bureau. PII includes six grantees
whose work is adding to the body of evidence
in child welfare. PII offers a flexible,
stepwise approach that is one way
to build evidence. – It is possible
to break the process of building evidence down
into steps that can be managed in the context of
implementation science, technical assistance
and support, and more importantly
in the context of the agendas and unique situations
of the agencies that are trying to bring about
change and test change. We can’t jump from an idea that has been developed
at a local level all the way to
a very rigorous evaluation. We need to go through steps
and stages to reach that, and we need to be careful and be able to revise
our expectations, be able to carefully consider each of the decisions
along the way, be willing to change what we really expected
in the beginning, in order to achieve the goal
of finding an intervention that serves
a certain population in a way that improves
their outcomes. – Some of the value
in an initiative like PII can be seen in the way
it’s emphasized, the principles of
evidence-based policy making. Principles like
funding programs that show the best available evidence of past success. Investing in programs implementation, rigorously evaluating
those programs, and being flexible enough
to make changes where the evidence shows that we’re not getting
to the desired outcome. Narrator: This approach,
known as the PII Approach, provides a framework to apply four principles
of evidence-based policymaking that have been described
by Dr. Ron Haskins. – The PII project follows
all the other steps of evidence-based policy,
this four-step model. It is the only federal program that I know about that not only follows
all those steps, but also has been studied throughout that period. I expect we’re going to learn
a lot from it. The PII program is one of
the best examples we have because implementation is where
we’re really falling down. You could have a perfect model
that is powerful and produces
all kinds of effects. If it’s not well implemented,
it is not going to have impacts. It won’t work. – I believe
our culture of evidence has changed with PII, in the fact that we know
we can do this work. We know that government
must play a role in building the evidence base. The work that we are doing through PII causes us to take a step back and think through, how do we actually
fund our grants? Specifically,
from the PII example, I learned that it’s
really important, if we have very limited
evidence base, that we give grantees the space
to be able to do the work during a planning phase. In a recent project I worked at with the Children’s Bureau, we were able to give grantees
a two-year planning phase, and then after
that planning phase, we funded a subset
of those grants who had the capacity to
do the work going forward. So to actually implement
the intervention. This was directly a response
to what we learned from PII. – We need to change
the culture of evidence, and I honestly believe that the social function
of social science, is to improve in all these areas to create more opportunity
for people in America. I think that’s the primary goal. And we are not going to do it until we adopt some method
of learning more about the programs
that we can devise and implement aggressively,
and then spread, do all those things, until we have a much stronger
culture of evidence. That’s what you’re doing in PII. I think it’s one of
the most complete examples because it covers every phase. We need to do
a lot more of that. – I think the growing acceptance of evidence-based policy making across the political spectrum is indicative of a changing culture in child welfare, one that prioritizes evidence
over intuition, values, even practiced wisdom. Narrator:
PII is one real world example of evidence-based policy making. With PII, we are shifting
the culture of evidence in child welfare. For more information about PII, visit the Children’s Bureau website at

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