The context for social work education is rapidly changing. We must develop social workers who consistently use evidence to inform their practice, who are capable of delivering empirically supported interventions, and who understand and can apply implementation science and frameworks to support effective service delivery.
Increasingly, major funding sources require delivery of practice models with proven effectiveness for specific populations and behaviors of concern. Furthermore, despite political rancor, bipartisan legislation is emerging that requires delivery of evidence-based practice, including the following:
The Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission Act, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), has been approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The Every Student Succeeds Act includes more than 80 mentions of evidence and evidence-based practice and distributes power to states and districts to implement those provisions
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is developing bipartisan congressional support for the Families First Act, which will require programs supported by Title IV-E funds to deliver well-defined promising practices beginning in 2017, then evidence-informed practices, and by 2023, evidence-based practices.
Consortium efforts lead to special issue!
Addressing results from our studies on workforce preparation and readiness (Barwick, 2011; Bertram, Charnin, Kerns, & Long, 2015), in 2015-16 the Consortium developed and presented its Janus series of webinars for MSW faculty and programs (https://ebpconsortium.com/webinars/msw-faculty-webinars).
Based upon this feedback we proposed a special issue of the Journal of Social Work Education to focus upon a key conceptual next step in professional workforce development: How to integrate evidence based practice and implementation science in academic and field curricula. Once accepted, a call for abstracts was disseminated in the spring and summer of 2016.
The response was overwhelming. We received over 50 proposals from across the United States, Canada, and Australia, of which 21 were invited to submit a manuscript by December 31, 2016 for this special issue. About half of these will ultimately reach hard copy in the special issue at the start of 2018.
In both content and in number, the abstract proposals demonstrated how the field is moving farther and faster than previous debates about evidence-based practice would suggest.