Principle-based implementation support during a time of crisis

Allison Metz, Leah Bartley, Amanda Farley

During this time of crisis, so much has changed for the service systems we partner with.  In response, we are shifting our support from building implementation capacity to helping agencies to meet the needs of families right now, while recognizing that staff and agency resources are stressed more than ever. In child welfare, these decisions and changes are particularly important as potential maltreatment may increase, while resources and access to supports for families during this time may be limited.  The Chronicle of Social Change has shared a compelling piece on what child welfare systems need to think about during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We took some time this week to pause and reflect on how our implementation support practices have changed in child welfare since the pandemic.  We realized that the five principles which guide our work – empathy, curiosity, commitment, methodical, transdisciplinary – are perhaps more critical in this time of crisis than ever before.  We decided to record part of an internal conversation to share with you how we think principle-based implementation support can be helpful as we make decisions around implementation and try to be the best partners possible for public agencies during this time. We talk about opportunities to lead with each of these principles in our shifting support:

  • Empathy – valuing the perspectives of practitioners and families and their changing needs during the pandemic
  • Curiosity – asking lots of questions to understand what people and communities are experiencing and listening for how our implementation support may need to change
  • Commitment – prioritizing the public agencies and communities we support and taking the time needed to get through this crisis together
  • Methodical – using data and evidence to help public agencies make quick modifications to current programs and practices that are responsive to the new context
  • Transdisciplinary – respecting different ways of knowing and valuing practice wisdom as we select implementation strategies to help address newly emerging challenges during the pandemic

We invite you to listen to this recording of our conversation.  More detail on these principles can be found in the Implementation Specialist Practice Profile. We plan to share more of our own reflective practice as implementation support practitioners during this time and would love to hear what others are thinking about and how your own work has changed.

Allison Metz is Director of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), a Senior Research Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, a Research Professor at the School of Social Work, and Adjunct Professor at the School of Global Public Health at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Leah Bartley is an Implementation Specialist at the National Implementation Research Network at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Amanda Farley is an Implementation Associate at the National Implementation Research Network at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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