Five Questions with Casey: Cynthia Weaver on Bringing Evidence2Success to Alabama

Posted June 23, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog fivequestionscynthiaweaver 2016

As a senior asso­ciate with Casey’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Team, Cyn­thia Weaver works to expand the use of pro­grams backed by sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence when serv­ing vul­ner­a­ble kids and families.

Before work­ing at Casey, Weaver served as an assis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of South­ern Mis­sis­sip­pi School of Social Work. She also found­ed and ran a con­sult­ing com­pa­ny that devel­oped and eval­u­at­ed ser­vices for chil­dren and youth fac­ing a vari­ety of chal­lenges. Weaver earned a doc­tor­ate and master’s degree in social work from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alaba­ma and a bachelor’s degree in Eng­lish from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alabama.

In this Five Ques­tions edi­tion, Weaver tells how Casey’s Evidence2Success frame­work is empow­er­ing com­mu­ni­ties — and the state of Alaba­ma — to help kids and fam­i­lies succeed.

Q1. How do com­mu­ni­ties use Evidence2Success to select the right strate­gies and pro­grams for help­ing kids and fam­i­lies succeed?

Youth in sixth, eighth, tenth and twelfth grades in Evidence2Success com­mu­ni­ties com­plete well-being sur­veys every two years. These sur­veys help sites deter­mine what risks youth face, the pro­tec­tive fac­tors that can buffer these risks and which youth well-being out­comes to tar­get for improve­ment. A web-based reg­istry, called Blue­prints for Healthy Youth Devel­op­ment, guides Evidence2Success com­mu­ni­ties in iden­ti­fy­ing evi­dence-based pro­grams that best align with their youth well-being pri­or­i­ties. And then Casey part­ners with these com­mu­ni­ties to tai­lor and imple­ment their cho­sen pro­grams and ensure that they are effec­tive­ly address­ing each spec­i­fied need.

Q2. Why did Casey choose Alaba­ma as its next Evidence2Success location?

Casey was look­ing to imple­ment our Evidence2Success frame­work at the state lev­el, and Alaba­ma was attrac­tive for sev­er­al rea­sons. First, the state requires every coun­ty to have a children’s pol­i­cy coun­cil that assess­es unmet needs and rec­om­mends bet­ter ways to serve chil­dren, youth and fam­i­lies. These coun­cils have a shared mis­sion and mul­ti-sec­tor mem­ber­ship that are well suit­ed for imple­ment­ing the Evidence2Success frame­work. Next, the Alaba­ma Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices (DYS) was an ear­ly pub­lic sys­tem cham­pi­on for this ini­tia­tive. Lead­er­ship at DYS under­stand the impor­tance of effec­tive pre­ven­tion to keep chil­dren from enter­ing pub­lic sys­tems in the first place. And, as an added bonus, DYS already had a pos­i­tive expe­ri­ence with Casey’s Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive (JDAI), which result­ed in cost sav­ings and greater invest­ments in com­mu­ni­ty-based youth programs.

Q3. Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island, became the first city to part­ner with Casey on Evidence2Success. How will imple­men­ta­tion be dif­fer­ent in Mobile and Sel­ma, where the frame­work is being pilot­ed in Alabama?

The five core ele­ments of the pro­gram will not change. These include: 1) local gov­er­nance through a com­mu­ni­ty board that includes rep­re­sen­ta­tion from res­i­dents of high-adver­si­ty neigh­bor­hoods; 2) using the Youth Expe­ri­ence Sur­vey to pri­or­i­tize youth well-being out­comes: 3) pub­lic sys­tem fund-map­ping to realign a small per­cent­age of their bud­get to sus­tain pre­ven­tion pro­grams over the long-term; and 5) using per­for­mance mea­sures to assess change. Res­i­dents will help select proven pre­ven­tion pro­grams and prac­tices in an effort to move the nee­dle on pri­or­i­ty youth well-being out­comes. These com­mu­ni­ty voic­es will undoubt­ed­ly shape their site’s work in unique ways.

Q4. As Evidence2Success expands beyond Mobile and Sel­ma to a long-term statewide effort, how will imple­men­ta­tion differ?

Com­mu­ni­ties admin­is­ter the youth sur­vey local­ly and res­i­dents and stake­hold­ers use this data to set local pri­or­i­ty youth well-being out­comes. As a result, local strate­gic plan­ning will always dri­ve the imple­men­ta­tion of Evidence2Success. At the state lev­el, we will focus on encour­ag­ing pub­lic sys­tems to come togeth­er around a com­mon lan­guage for pre­ven­tion and sup­port­ing the fund-map­ping process of local pub­lic sys­tems par­tic­i­pat­ing in Evidence2Success. These state-lev­el actions will have a com­mon goal: to sup­port effec­tive and sus­tain­able pre­ven­tion pro­grams at the local level.

Q5. Who are some key part­ners that Casey is work­ing with in Mobile and Selma?

In Mobile, the Mobile Area Edu­ca­tion Foun­da­tion has a long his­to­ry of lever­ag­ing dis­cre­tionary dol­lars to improve aca­d­e­m­ic out­comes. They under­stand the con­nec­tion between achiev­ing aca­d­e­m­ic indi­ca­tors, such as third-grade read­ing lev­els and high school grad­u­a­tion, and under­ly­ing social and emo­tion­al fac­tors that affect edu­ca­tion­al achieve­ment. The Mobile Coun­ty Pub­lic School Sys­tem, Mobile Coun­ty Health Depart­ment, the Juve­nile Court of Mobile Coun­ty and the Mobile Pub­lic Hous­ing Author­i­ty have also been strong pub­lic sys­tem sup­port­ers of Evidence2Success in Mobile.

In Sel­ma, the lead orga­ni­za­tion is the Dal­las Coun­ty Children’s Pol­i­cy Coun­cil, which includes the direc­tors of pub­lic child wel­fare, behav­ioral health and pub­lic health as well as the school super­in­ten­dent and law enforce­ment offi­cials. Dis­trict Court Judge Robert Arm­strong III, who cham­pi­oned major juve­nile jus­tice reforms through JDAI, chairs this coun­cil. Judge Arm­strong is an ear­ly and enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er of Evidence2Success and the impor­tance of pre­ven­tion to avoid unnec­es­sary pub­lic sys­tem involvement.

This post is related to:

This post is part of the series:

Popular Posts

View all blog posts   |   Browse Topics

Youth with curly hair in pink shirt

blog   |   June 3, 2021

Defining LGBTQ Terms and Concepts

A mother and her child are standing outdoors, each with one arm wrapped around the other. They are looking at each other and smiling. The child has a basketball in hand.

blog   |   August 1, 2022

Child Well-Being in Single-Parent Families