OnCall Quarter 4 2018 (publication of the Palm Beach County Medical Society)
Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County: Evidence-Based Programs and Services Making a Difference
By Lisa Williams-Taylor, Ph.D.
CEO, Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County
For over 30 years, Children’s Services Council of Palm Beach County (CSC) has dedicated funding to help our children and their families have every opportunity to succeed. We do this by working with our community to identify needs, as well as solutions. One key to making a difference comes by way of evidence-based programs and services. The concept of evidence-based originated in the medical field and did not start to filter into the health and human services arena until the 1990s. It was only a couple years later that CSC funded our first evidence-based program. You may ask, “Why CSC has chosen to fund in this way?” Because despite decades of research on the causes and treatments of various social problems, most approaches aimed at helping families have shown only modest effect. Too often, programs continue to operate without ever showing that what they do works for the children and families they serve. A program may appear on the surface to work, and logically should work; but when formally evaluated, it may show no results or may, in fact, be harmful to the population served. Don’t we owe it to our children and families to do better? Absolutely. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we believe it is imperative that we invest in programs demonstrating success.
While there continues to be debate about the use of evidence-based programs in social services and ensuring community needs are met, we at CSC do not believe it’s an either or decision. Currently we fund 57 programs, of which 11 are evidence-based, and we are working to create evidence for many others. More importantly, we have data and evidence to support that the programs we have brought to our community are making a substantial difference in terms of child and family outcomes. In fact, in various studies, independent researchers have found that CSC-funded national programs actually have had better outcomes than what previously had been found.
Some examples of theses successful programs are: CenteringPregnancy, Healthy Steps, Nurse-Family Partnership, Mental Health Counseling, and Teen Triple P (Positive Parenting Program).
- CenteringPregnancy – This program provides prenatal care to women in a group setting, incorporating the three elements of prenatal care: assessment, education, and support.
- Healthy Steps – Healthy Steps Specialists work in pediatricians’ offices to monitor child health and development, promote good health practices and respond to parents’ concerns about their developing infants and toddlers.
- Nurse-Family Partnership – This program is a voluntary, evidence-based nurse home-visiting program that improves the health and well-being of low-income, first-time parents and their children.
- Mental Health Counseling Programs – These evidence-based mental health models are delivered to pregnant moms and their children, ages 0-5, and in school-based settings.
- Teen Triple P (Positive Parenting Program) - Teen Triple P is a family intervention program for parents of adolescents ages 11-18 who have or are at risk of developing behavioral or emotional problems.
These are only a few examples demonstrating our commitment to every child in Palm Beach County growing up healthy, safe and strong.
For more information about Children's Services Council of Palm Beach County, visit https://www.cscpbc.org/ or contact Shana Cooper, Public Information Officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5617-740-7000 ext. 2170.