public-policy article

National Assembly Comments on HHS Evidence-Based Clearinghouse for Prevention Services

July 24, 2018

On Friday, July 20, the National Assembly submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) about the development of a clearinghouse of evidence-based practices in accordance with the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) of 2018. The clearinghouse will identify “promising,” “supported,” and “well-supported” practices for mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs, in-home parent skill-based programs, and kinship navigator programs for children who are candidates for foster care, pregnant, or parenting foster youth, and the parents or kin caregivers of those children and youth.

HHS invited comments on all aspects of the clearinghouse including the criteria for rating programs and potential candidate programs for inclusion. The National Assembly’s comments focused on the need for a transparent, flexible, and community-focused clearinghouse for prevention services that will build well-being and help children remain in their homes. We suggested that HHS prioritize in-home prevention services that are culturally competent, administered by a community-based organization, and focused on the needs of the family because they are the most likely to have sustained positive outcomes. We also asked HHS to consider explicitly adding youth involved in the criminal justice system to the target populations for services included in the clearinghouse. Finally, we recommended that HHS remain open to including services in the clearinghouse that may not meet the conventional “evidence-based” methods or statistical thresholds, especially when considering what services are rated as “promising practices.” HHS should emphasize the size of a favorable outcome on a target population in addition to the degree to which that outcome is statistically correlated with a given practice.

For many years, the human service field, including many National Assembly members, have been developing, administering, and evaluating programs and practices that will serve the goals of the FFPSA. We highlighted several examples of practices for HHS to take into account as the agency finalizes its criteria for the clearinghouse, including: