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Section 1. Criteria for Choosing Promising Practices and Community Interventions

What is a promising practice or intervention?

___You know that a practice is a particular way of doing things.

___You know that an intervention is usually a whole program or initiative meant to achieve an overall result.

___You use theory, past experience, and/or analysis of the problem to help you create or judge untried practices and interventions.

Where do you find out about existing promising practices or interventions?

You use these sources to find out about existing promising practices or interventions:


___State and national advocacy and professional organizations.

___International, state and federal agencies.

___Foundations and other private funders.



___The Internet.

___Word of mouth from the community.

How do you identify a true promising practice or intervention?

___You have decided whether you're searching for a best practice for treatment, prevention, or promotion.

___You know how to use both quantitative and qualitative data to judge promising practices and interventions.

You recognize the attributes of successful programs:

___Successful programs are comprehensive, flexible, responsive, and persevering.

___Successful programs see children in the context of families, and families as parts of neighborhoods and communities - in other words, they consider their work in context.

___Successful programs have a long-term preventive orientation, a clear mission, and continue to evolve over time.

___Successful programs are managed by competent and committed individuals with clearly identifiable skills.

___Staffs of successful programs are trained and supported to provide high quality, responsive service.

___Successful programs operate in settings that encourage practitioners to build strong relationships based on mutual trust and respect.

___Successful programs are collaborative both internally and externally.

___Successful programs and their staffs generally have, both institutionally and individually, a set of relationships and core values that strengthen their sense of shared purpose, and give them faith that disappointments and setbacks can be overcome.

How do you choose the practice or intervention that's right for your community?

You follow the basic steps to choosing a promising practice or intervention:

___You conduct a community-based assessment and planning process to be sure that you're addressing the issues that are most appropriate and pressing for the community.

___You decide whether you'll address the issue directly, or whether you'll try to change the conditions that make it possible.

___You find (or create, if that's necessary) practices or interventions that have successfully addressed the issue in the way you want to address it.

___You determine what elements of a promising intervention will work in your community, and which ones need to be changed.

___You implement the intervention, making adjustments as you go along.

___You evaluate your work and results regularly, understanding that no matter how well any intervention works, it can always be improved.

You pay attention to the difficulties in finding practices or interventions you can use:

___Excellent programs often don't travel well.

___You can't expect people to accept and embrace a program if it's imposed upon them from above.

___No intervention or practice that involves people - either staff or participants - is perfect.

___The difference between a successful and an unsuccessful intervention can be subtle.

___If you can't replicate an intervention's resources as well as its practices, you're probably headed for trouble.

You try to assure successful replication by:

___Choosing a program based on ideas that are sound and well-developed through experience.

___Choosing a program based on ideas that can be taught and can inspire local leadership.

___Choosing a program that conveys a sense of mission, of belonging to something larger.

___Making sure you have access to people who have successfully implemented the program.

___Making sure you have supportive and wise consultation.

___Making sure you have technical assistance that recognizes there are new things to be discovered.

___Including local involvement in initial planning for, finding and choosing, and implementing the intervention.

___Making sure funders know that trying to replicate a program that's been successful elsewhere doesn't guarantee success overnight, or even at all.

___Matching your goals to your available resources.

You structure the replication process for success by:

___Combining the replication of the essence of a successful intervention with the adaptation of many of its components to a new setting or population.

___Obtaining the continuous backing of an intermediary organization.

___Recognizing the importance of the systems and institutional context.

___Recognizing the importance of people.

___Judging success by the outcomes for individuals and communities.

___You tackle, directly and strategically, the obstacles to large-scale change.