Challenges and opportunities of evidence use in practice in Australian children’s development programs

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This paper explores the role of evidence and its use in a cluster of Australian community-based child development programs. The paper draws on findings from a 2016–2017 study commissioned by a not-for-profit organization to review their programs’ alignment with government evidence-based program expectations. Cunningham and Duffee’s (2009) evidence-based practice style typology is utilized to examine how different purposes of use drive styles of and approaches to evidence sourcing, application, and reporting. Perspectives on what constitutes evidence and how such evidence is valued, used, and reported can vary considerably between individual programs, irrespective of enforced standards and expectations. It is argued that a single-dimensional approach to program evidence-based evaluation and reporting is not appropriate and potentially damaging in contexts where community-based programs have different purposes, structures, cultures, and intentions. Given a program’s particular evidence-use style, evidence-based criteria, processes, and reporting requirements should be matched accordingly.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Evidence-Based Social Work
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • child development
  • child welfare
  • Evidence use
  • evidence-based practice
  • social work

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