In an era of scarce programmatic resources, funders of social services and savvy program operators are increasingly seeking effective, evidence-based interventions to address their agencies' missions and improve outcomes for children, youth and families. Though many evidence-based programs have been identified, there are still issues for which intervention programs are lacking, and there are subpopulations with unique needs that require new or modified interventions. In addition, over time new issues arise for which interventions are needed. To address these additional needs, federal, local, and state governments, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and researchers invest significant resources to develop new programs. However, little guidance exists for the field about rigorous, systematic approaches to developing innovative or promising programs.
This issue brief describes key strategies for using research evidence and data to inform the development and testing of new evidence-informed interventions and will highlight key strategies that can be useful at each stage of program development. These approaches draw on accumulated research and evaluation knowledge, as well as social science theory and the expertise of practitioners. This brief particularly highlights the use of meta-analysis and "kernels" to identify research-based components and practices to incorporate into new programs. Meta-analysis is a technique to synthesize the results of many studies on a topic, while kernels are program elements or practices that have been shown in research to have behavioral impacts and that can be re-combined in the development of new interventions. The brief also suggests how a logic model can help organize this information and guide program development, testing, and revision. However, we are only highlighting the important considerations in this brief. The appendix provides a resource list suggesting where to obtain additional detail on how to pursue the strategies described.