Implementation of Evidence-Based Programs within an Australian Place-Based Initiative for Children: a Qualitative Study

Fiona C. Burgemeister, Sharinne B. Crawford, Naomi J. Hackworth, Stacey Hokke, Jan M. Nicholson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Place-based initiatives are frequently subject to “top-down” changes, despite having a “bottom-up” service delivery model. One example is the Australian Government’s “Communities for Children” Facilitating Partner initiative (CfC), aimed at improving child, family and community outcomes in geographically disadvantaged areas. CfC introduced a policy requiring initially 30% then 50% of service delivery funding to be spent on evidence-based programs. This qualitative study explores the rarely examined views and experiences of government personnel tasked with implementing the policy. Seventeen government personnel across Australia were interviewed and asked about knowledge and attitudes toward evidence-based practice and the policy change, and perceptions of the factors that influenced policy implementation. Data were analyzed thematically and findings compared to existing frameworks and theoretical models. Six themes were identified. Participants cited workforce, contextual and cultural factors as influences on implementation. Most viewed the implementation as worthwhile, although some lingering skepticism remained. Findings were consistent with a theory of organizational readiness for change. Organizations that were “enthusiastic and confident” were more effective at implementation; those that were “pragmatic and confident” focussed on compliance rather than benefits to families; while those that were “resistant and unconfident” struggled with implementation. Findings were also consistent with a framework of factors that support sustained implementation in disadvantaged populations, with three additional factors identified. These findings highlight the importance for governing bodies to build supporting factors broadly, and to plan for the provision of additional supports to organizations with a low level of change readiness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Children
  • Disadvantage
  • Evidence-based programs
  • Families
  • Place-based initiatives

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