Function 5: Define the Intervention
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Function 5: Define the Intervention

Thanks for joining us today! Welcome to the Center
for States video series on the seven functions
of intervention selection, design and adaptation. This series is produced by The Capacity
Building Center for States and funded by The
Children’s Bureau. In this module, we will discuss how to define
an intervention if adapting or designing an
intervention is selected. As a reminder, teams
should have already researched possible intervention options
and assess the evidence, fit and feasibility
of an intervention, determined whether
to replicate, adapt, or design a completely
new one before moving on to defining the intervention, developing a proposal
and then further defining and operationalizing
the intervention as needed. Whether teams have
decided to replicate, adapt or design a
new intervention, they will need to be able
to define the intervention, and describe its
parts in simple terms. This means
describing the intervention so that stakeholders understand
what the intervention is and the team will
be able to explain it, teach it to staff,
deliver it to families, and evaluate its success. There are two
sets of key subtasks that teams should complete to
fully define an intervention; one set before a
proposal is developed and the second after a proposal
has been developed and approved. Before developing a proposal, teams can work to
identify the purpose, goals, and the underlying
principles of the intervention and articulate how
the core components align with the team’s
theory of change. In addition to building
a common understanding, this information will help
the team craft the proposal for leadership
and decision makers. After the proposal is approved, teams can move to
the more in-depth and time consuming pieces like
fully defining the components and features, as
well as adapting or developing a
practice profile. It’s important to remember that while these may be two
separate sets of activities, they will often overlap. Teams can move back and
forth between the tasks to refine the intervention
and its components. Let’s take a closer look
at the two tasks teams complete before
crafting a proposal. First, teams define the purpose,
goals and guiding principles. The purpose and goals of
the intervention work together to briefly describe
what the intervention does and why or how it does it. Goals should outline
the identified problem and anticipated
results of an intervention. Both the purpose and
the goals should clearly and directly address the
team’s identified problem and how the intervention aligns with the team’s
theory of change. Guiding principles
are the philosophies, norms and values that will shape
the intervention components and related
activities or decisions. For example, the
importance of integrating youth and family voice in
program development and service delivery, or that all young
children and their families deserve the same opportunities
to succeed regardless of any demographic, geographic, or economic considerations. The second subtask
before developing the proposal is to broadly
identify the core components, the critical building
blocks of the intervention that make it work. To define the intervention, teams will describe
the core components and more specifically, how they address
the identified problem and support the
team’s theory of change, for example, comprehensive assessments
or group connections. Teams may be able to use or
modify existing core components of a well-defined intervention but may need to plan
time to add components to an existing
intervention or develop them for a new intervention. Outlining these
essential building blocks will support planning
the intervention, designing or adapting practice profiles, and determining
fidelity measures. What can help teams to
define the intervention? Consider the
following as a team: Have you articulated the
intervention’s purpose, goals, and guiding principles in a way that supports
clear understanding for all the stakeholders? Have you made a clear connection between the core
components of the intervention and the identified
problem or need that your team is
trying to address and how it supports
the theory of change? Have you considered
if a formal proposal, which will be
explained in greater detail in the next module, can be
developed and approved prior to
committing time to adapting or developing how the components
will be operationalized? Answering these
questions together as a team will help teams
define the building blocks of the intervention clearly
and connect the components to the identified problem
and the team’s theory of change about what will lead
to improved outcomes. We have heard from other
examples so far in this series and it is time to
look at an example of what defining an
intervention might look like. The Parents as Teachers
home visitation intervention defines the intervention through
their mission or purpose, goals, guiding
principles and core components. The mission of
Parents as Teachers clearly describes what
the intervention does: it provides early development through parent and
caregiver support. There are four clearly defined
goals of the intervention for agencies to look at
what the expected results of implementing this
intervention might be: Increase parent knowledge
of early childhood development and improve parent practices. Provide early detection
of developmental delays and health issues. Prevent child abuse and neglect. And increase children’s
school readiness and success. The intervention’s developers
have clearly laid out the values or guiding principles, and agencies looking
at this intervention would want to ensure that they
align with their overall values and principles of their
organization, including: The early years
of a child’s life are critical for
optimal development. That parents are their
children’s first and most influential teachers. That established
and emerging research should be the
foundation of parent education and family support curricula, training,
materials, and services. That all young
children and their families deserve the same
opportunities to succeed, regardless of any
demographic, geographic, or economic considerations. And an understanding and
appreciation of the history and traditions
of diverse cultures is essential in
serving families. And the critical building
blocks, or Core Components, that should lead to the
positive outcomes such as: One-on-one personal visits, group connections, health and developmental
screenings for children, linkages and connections for
families to needed resources. This example helps
agencies seeking to define a selected
intervention to ensure that they define all
of the key elements, and also take into consideration
any other components that may need to
be added or adapted based on their specific context. Once teams have defined a
well-defined intervention, they will be able to
move into the next step, which is developing a
proposal for the intervention. Let’s take a
moment to check in on what you’ve learned about
defining an intervention. Why do teams define
the intervention? So that it can be
clearly explained, taught, delivered to
families, and evaluated. How do teams
define the intervention? By stating the
intervention’s purpose, goals, and guiding principles;
identifying core components and how they align
with the theory of change; and then further
developing core components after a proposal is approved. What can help teams
define the intervention? Stating the purpose,
goals, and guiding principles; describing clearly the
connections to the problem and theory of change; and considering if a
proposal can be prepared and approved prior
to committing time to further develop components. Now take this a step further by reviewing the
reflection questions and practice exercise for
“Define the intervention” in your Intervention
Selection, Adaptation, and Design Workbook to
connect what have learned to your own experience. Up next is “Develop a Proposal”, the sixth function in
intervention selection, adaptation, and design. This video was created by the Capacity Building Center
for States and funded by the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, Administration for Children
and Families, Children’s Bureau under contract
HHSP233201400033C. The content of this video
does not necessarily reflect the official views of
the Children’s Bureau.

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