Evidence-Based Practices

Research and evidence-based practices are expected standard of service delivery and evaluation in the RHY field. Based on the medical model of practice, evidence-based practices are intended to identify those programs and services that demonstrate effective outcomes and positive impact on youth and families served. The transient nature of runaway and homeless youth makes research challenging with this population, and current research is limited in comparison to other health-care and social services fields. However, the importance of conducting research to establish and identify evidence-based practices is recognized by the current ACYF administration and has become and established RHYTTAC priority.

RHYTTAC is dedicated to providing grantees with the latest research impacting RHY youth and RHY providers. Additionally, RHYTTAC will provide guidance and support to grantees in creating and implementing strong evaluation tools with which to contribute to the growing body of evidence that demonstrates the positive impact of RHY services.

For more information or questions regarding research and evaluation, please contact RHYTTAC at [email protected].

Understanding Evidence-Based Practice

Evidence-Based Practice (EBP) is defined as bringing together the best available research, professional expertise, and input from youth and families to identify and deliver services that have been demonstrated to achieve positive outcomes for youth, families, and communities. Since the youth and families we serve deserve the best treatment available it’s important to evaluate the techniques you are currently using to ensure your practices meet these standards. This may require being flexible and open to implementing new practices. But the reward of offering youth and families the best we have to offer should be enough reason to adopt Evidence-Based Practices into the services you provide.

Some people may believe the use of Evidence-Based Practices de-emphasizes decisions based on experience, authority or opinion. However, using Evidence-Based Practices simply means identifying the best available research and combining it with other factors for the best results. So, advocates of EBP do not minimize the importance of experience because they believe evidence-based practices should be integrated with the experiences and resources that agencies bring to practice. In addition, many funding entities require agencies to document service outcomes and identify the Evidence-Based Practices they utilize.

There are several key considerations for Runaway and Homeless Youth Providers as they move toward the implementation of Evidence-Based Practices. It is important for providers to note how the Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) defines Evidence-Based Practices, gain an understanding of the steps for implementing Evidence-Based Practices, become familiar with available resources on Evidence-Based Practices, and consider some of the Evidence-Based Practices that grantees are using.

FYSB’s Definition of Evidence-Based Practice

FYSB has created a framework that takes the best of what programs are doing individually to help all programs be successful. Based on the years of work by runaway and homeless youth providers and the best emerging evidence about what runaway and homeless youth need to succeed, FYSB believes the most critical outcomes for runaway and homeless youth are: safety, well-being, permanent connections, and self-sufficiency. It is clear that Evidence-Based Practices help agencies provide the best treatment available and allow agencies to evaluate their outcomes. However, they are most effective when integrated with other factors that are tailored to the organization providing the services. It is also clear that since Evidence-Based Practices are continuously improved and updated, your agency should continuously evaluate their use within your agency. Using some of the outcomes evaluation tools that we will identify and seeking input from youth and families are ways to evaluate the use of Evidence-Based Practices. Using resources that identify the best Evidence-Based Practices available will also improve your ability to provide the best services to youth and their families and facilitate the achievement of safety, well-being, permanent connections, and self-sufficiency outcomes for runaway and homeless youth.

RHY Program – Final Rule

The Family and Youth Services Bureau's (FYSB) Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) Program Final Rule Webinar slides and transcript are now available. The new rule, published on December 20, 2016, in the Federal Register, details additional requirements that apply to the Basic Center, Transitional Living, and Street Outreach programs, including non-discrimination, background checks, outreach, and training, and establishes program performance standards for grantees providing services to eligible youth and their families. Performance standards build on standards already used as priorities in funding opportunity announcements and awards. This rule also updates procedures for soliciting applications and awarding grants.

Access the webinar slides (pdf) and supporting materials below:

Missed Opportunities: Evidence on Interventions for Addressing Youth Homelessness

In October 2019, Voices of Youth Count released its Evidence Review Brief, along with seven resources reporting evidence by intervention, including prevention, family, shelter and housing, individual counseling and treatment, non-housing case management and support, economic and employment programs, and outreach.  

National Trends on Youth in Crisis in the United States

In June 2015, National Runaway Safeline (NRS) released its report entitled “National Trends on Youth in Crisis in the United States.”

U.S. Interagency Council on Ending Homelessness: Opening Doors

Presented to the Office of the President and Congress on June 22, 2010, Opening Doors is the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness.