Increasingly, agencies, communities, and funders are driven to make a difference by using the best information that social science has to offer. Also, service recipients and communities are becoming increasingly savvy about asking for the data that demonstrate that programs or practices are likely to result in positive outcomes. Given the effort, time, and expense required to establish and sustain services and interventions, the return on this investment matters deeply for all stakeholders.
But what information is needed to select and implement programs that address the needs of identified populations? What data matter most? Can outcome data tell the whole story? Increasingly, researchers, evaluators, and program developers are discussing the importance of identifying the core components of complex interventions. Those who use data to make decisions (e.g., grant makers, foundations, policy makers, agency directors, and intermediary organizations) are interested in understanding which program or practice elements are "essential" and which ones can be modified without jeopardizing outcomes.
Emphasis on Evidence
The Federal government has made a strong commitment to supporting evidence-based and evidence-informed programs, particularly for children and youth. Recent examples include: the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, the Permanency Innovations Initiative, the Social Innovation Fund, and the Investing in Innovation (i3) Fund.