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2009 Jordan Institute
for Families

Vol. 14, No. 2
May 2009

Promoting Agency Performance Through Experimentation

Reprinted from Children’s Bureau Express, vol. 10, no. 3 (April 2009)

A recent article contrasts the increasing emphasis in child welfare on evidence-based practice with experiment-driven approaches. The authors suggest that the idea of experimentation in child welfare management has been overlooked, even though trial-and-error methods may help tailor evidence-based practice to a particular organization or program.

The article describes three models of experimentation: scientific management, continuous quality improvement, and learning organization. The models differ in the roles and responsibilities of child welfare managers and staff, but all allow managers to refine or even discontinue programs in response to client outcomes and changing conditions. For instance, experimentation may have benefits for adapting programs for different cultural groups by individualizing services for diverse clients.

The authors suggest that experimentation may help child welfare managers make reasonable adaptations to their service systems for the delivery of evidence-based programs.

"The Role of Child Welfare Managers in Promoting Agency Performance Through Experimentation," by Bowen McBeath, Harold Briggs, and Eugene Aisenberg, was published in Children and Youth Services Review, Volume 31(1). It can be accessed through the Elsevier website: