The Importance of Quality Implementation for Research, Practice, and Policy. Why is it Costly to Ignore Program Implementation


It is assumed that, for the general public welfare, societies strive toward the fairest allocation of public resources to as many in the population as possible. However, resources are always limited in some way. Usually, important either-or decisions must be made. Should we support this program or an alternative program? Should we introduce a new program or continue with services as usual? These decisions should be made in reference to how well a program has been implemented, in addition to evidence of the program's effectiveness.

Society experiences serious short- and long-term costs when programs are poorly implemented. The money, resources, and staff time associated with poorly implemented programs are not well spent because poorly-implemented programs are unlikely to be very successful. The decision making process regarding the fairest and most effective allocation of limited social resources is also compromised when the potential impact of programs cannot be determined because implementation is poor. Too often, interpretations of evaluation findings are limited at best because the program was not well-implemented. Poorly implemented programs can mislead decision-makers into assuming that a program is ineffective when in reality the program might work very well if it were well-implemented. In sum, a focus on implementation advances research, practice, and policy, and leads to better services within our communities, and better outcomes for children and youth.


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