Evidence-based practice

What is evidence-based practice?

Evidence-based practice is integrating the best research evidence with practice expertise in the context of child and family characteristics, culture and preferences.

This approach means taking into consideration:

  • child and family/whānau situation
  • child and family/whānau goals values and wishes
  • best available research evidence, and
  • practice expertise of the practitioners/professionals in decision making.


Why is it important?

Research evidence alone cannot make the difference, but it can support practitioners and professionals in their day-to-day work.

We need to ensure the services and supports we use are effective and achieve real results. Evidence-based practice enhances the:

  • opportunity for the most effective outcomes,
  • quality of care and service provision for children and their families, and
  • best use of resources.


What does it look like in practice?

Taking an evidence-based approach means using the best, research proven information in our day-to-day practice and service delivery.

Working in an evidence-based approach way means:

  • understanding the problem and its interrelated nature
  • taking account of the whole situation
  • understanding the underlying causes and the change required
  • knowing what interventions will work for whom and when
  • respecting a child’s and their families views
  • tailoring the response to the individual
  • measuring and reviewing progress for a child and their family//whānau
  • going back and trying again when things don’t work as you expected.

It is important to document all decisions made with the child, family and whānau. An accurate record forms the basis for communication between practitioners and child and family to:

  • ensure informed, coordinated continuity of services and support, and care
  • achieve effective outcomes
  • assist in evaluation of services and support, and care provided, retrieve data for management, audit and research reference.

Outcomes should be reviewed to show the planned actions are helping to address the child and family goals and are making a difference.


What do I need to consider when taking an evidence-based approach?

In order to take an evidence-based approach, organisations might need to consider being flexible in the way your service responds to the needs of a child.

Things to consider:

  • How will we know when our work with this child and whānau has been successful?
  • What are we basing our decisions on? Is there enough supporting evidence?
  • How are we documenting our decisions, assessments and plans?


How do I support my staff to make evidence-based decisions?

There are a number of tangible things managers can do to support their staff, including:

  • keep staff up-skilled with new professional developments, such as access to latest research or best practice guidelines
  • place value on recording and documenting decision-making
  • provide staff with accessible and effective supervision and professional development opportunities.


How do Children’s Teams take an evidence-based approach?

The Children's Team approach was developed from evidence in the White Paper for Vulnerable Children (2012).

Children’s Teams record decisions made and the evidence used in one integrated, child-centred assessment and plan record.

Children’s Teams practice process:

  1. Assess the child and their family/whānau to identify their needs
  2. Plan actions to address their needs
  3. Implement supports and services in line with the plan
  4. Review progress, assessing and planning again until needs are met
  5. Exit from the Children’s Team once overall needs have been met and the family no longer require intensive support from the Children’s Team.

Children’s Teams share information across agencies and organisations to ensure they have the whole picture of the child and family/whānau and their circumstances. Children’s Team Panels provide senior experienced oversight of professional practice.


What resources can help me put evidence-based practice in place?

Superu holds the latest research on what works best for children and families.