Five Questions with Casey: Suzanne Barnard on Evidence2Success

Posted October 18, 2015
Blog fivequestions suzanne barnard 2015

As direc­tor of the Casey Foundation’s Evi­dence-Based Prac­tice Group, Suzanne Barnard over­sees Evidence2Success, an ini­tia­tive that cham­pi­ons the pow­er of data and proven pro­grams to improve the lives of chil­dren and youth. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Barnard served in lead­er­ship roles for the Foundation’s Child Wel­fare Strat­e­gy Group and Fam­i­ly to Fam­i­ly reforms as well as for the Amer­i­can Humane Asso­ci­a­tion and the Amer­i­can Pub­lic Human Ser­vices Association. 

Q1. What is Evidence2Success?

Evidence2Success works with a diverse array of part­ners in cities and states to help com­mu­ni­ties make smart, cost-effec­tive invest­ments to improve the well-being of chil­dren and youth. We start with research. We con­duct a school-based sur­vey of mid­dle and high-school stu­dents to deter­mine their strengths, risks and chal­lenges. Next, we help com­mu­ni­ties form a board of res­i­dents, civic lead­ers and elect­ed offi­cials. This group out­lines which issues to address and which evi­dence-based solu­tions to use. We also help these com­mu­ni­ties map out their cur­rent fund­ing flow and visu­al­ize how they could rede­ploy these funds to evi­dence-based programs.

Q2. What has the Foun­da­tion learned from its work in Prov­i­dence, Rhode Island, the first Evidence2Success site? 

In 2012, we launched Evidence2Success in Prov­i­dence. Ini­tial invest­ments have yield­ed promis­ing results. For exam­ple, chron­ic absen­teeism has decreased by 5 per­cent in schools that have con­sis­tent­ly imple­ment­ed evi­dence-based pro­grams. This is all the more impres­sive when you con­sid­er that chron­ic absen­teeism has increased across the school dis­trict as a whole. At the same time, our expe­ri­ences in Prov­i­dence are shap­ing the larg­er ini­tia­tive and help­ing fast-track progress and max­i­mize results at oth­er sites.

Q3. You recent­ly expand­ed this ini­tia­tive to two more sites. How did you select new sites? 

We recent­ly added Alaba­ma as an Evidence2Success part­ner – focus­ing ini­tial­ly on Sel­ma – as well as Kearns Town­ship in Salt Lake Coun­ty, Utah. We select­ed these sites by solic­it­ing for pro­pos­als and search­ing for the best fit in terms of readi­ness and goals. All of these areas were able to high­light a clear track record of using data-dri­ven deci­sion mak­ing and strong work­ing pub­lic-com­mu­ni­ty partnerships. 

In Alaba­ma, the state’s pro­pos­al posi­tioned Sel­ma as a test site, where the Alaba­ma Depart­ment of Youth Ser­vices is con­tribut­ing fund­ing along with the Foun­da­tion to get the work start­ed. Our hope is that the suc­cess in Sel­ma will help to cre­ate sim­i­lar part­ner­ships in oth­er com­mu­ni­ties across the state.

Kearns Town­ship has expe­ri­enced demo­graph­ic shifts, increased pover­ty and wors­en­ing stu­dent achieve­ment in recent years. Sev­er­al years of sur­vey results have left lit­tle doubt that the kids in this Utah com­mu­ni­ty are fac­ing a vari­ety of risks. 

Q4. How does Evidence2Success fit into the Foundation’s grant making?

Evidence2Success is help­ing com­mu­ni­ties iden­ti­fy the ways in which chil­dren are at risk. At the same time, we are iden­ti­fy­ing pro­tec­tive fac­tors that can help mit­i­gate these risks, and we are boost­ing the sup­ply of tried-and-true strate­gies that com­mu­ni­ties can use to improve the lives of chil­dren and youth. This work advances Casey’s core val­ues. It also increas­es the demand for evi­dence-based pro­grams, while our evi­dence-based prac­tice grants seek to increase the sup­ply of those pro­grams that are able to demon­strate their results through rig­or­ous research. 

Q5. What’s the long-term vision for Evidence2Success sites? How will things look dif­fer­ent in 5 or 10 years?

There are sev­er­al ways we can scale our future efforts: We can expand our reach with­in states, we can add new sites and we can make our tools avail­able to a broad­er audi­ence. In the future, we would like to have more Evidence2Success sites up and run­ning – and achiev­ing move the nee­dle” results we can doc­u­ment by reg­u­lar admin­is­tra­tion of the youth sur­vey. We are also in the process of build­ing a vir­tu­al learn­ing net­work that will empow­er sites to launch their own efforts and learn from one another. 

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