Dear President-Elect Obama,
It makes sense to spend your budget on proven practices…programs that work and have the evidence to back their claims. But when “evidence-based” is too narrowly defined, its usefulness is compromised. So here’s the second in our list of suggestions for you as you plan your administration’s priorities.
2. Establish a more inclusive definition of evidence-based home visitation programs
Parents as Teachers National Center fully supports the emerging state and federal policy trend of funding “evidence-based” home visitation programs to ensure that participating families receive high quality services that produce measurable outcomes. However, we have serious concerns about narrowly defining evidence-based programs with the rigid standard of multiple randomized control trials (RCTs).
You see, RCT is not always the best way to evaluate social programs. Sometimes there are legal, ethical and financial situations that make RCT difficult to pursue. Many eminent researchers agree that RCT is only one of many “methods” in research and evaluation…credibility of research should not be based on a single research design. Here’s one reason why: using only RCT, researchers may not be able to answer the more qualitative question of “what works the best for whom in what situation.”
We urge the administration to adopt a more inclusive definition of evidence-based home-visiting programs.
With warm regards,
Your Parents as Teachers friends