Bridging the gap: Using Veerman and Van Yperen s (2007) framework to conceptualise and develop evidence informed practice in an Irish youth work organisation
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Brady, B., Canavan, J., Redmond, S. (2016) 'Bridging the gap: Using Veerman and Van Yperen s (2007) framework to conceptualise and develop evidence informed practice in an Irish youth work organisation'. Evaluation and program planning, Volume 55, Pages 128–133
While there is considerable support among the policy, practice and academic communities for the idea that practice in youth work should be based on evidence, Veerman and Van Yperen (2007) highlight the fact that little practice in the area of youth care is actually evidence based due to the paucity of experimental studies in the field and the difficulties associated with evaluation of non-standardised interventions such as youth work. They propose a model consisting of levels of evidence, the aim of which is to bridge the gap between evidence based and evidence informed practice (p.218). In order to address the dearth of examples in the international literature of how organisations have dealt with these complexities in practice, this article provides a case study of how a large Irish youth organisation, Foróige, has endeavoured to adopt an inclusive approach to evidence, working towards both evidence based and evidence informed practice. Drawing on Veerman and Van Yperen s (2007) framework, the case study shows that Foróige committed itself to gathering different types of evidence, including logic models and theoretical understandings at the foundation level and experimental design studies of key programmes at the advanced level. The case study focuses in detail on the intermediate level, whereby practitioners were trained to evaluate aspects of their own work, with a view to embedding evaluation and reflection in day to day practice. The process is described and key lessons emerging are discussed.