Using Rapid Cycle Learning to Build Momentum for Change in Two-Generation Service Delivery

Using Rapid Cycle Learning to Build Momentum for Change in Two-Generation Service Delivery

OPRE Report #2023-196
Published: Jun 30, 2023
Publisher: Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Associated Project

Next Steps for Rigorous Research on Two-Generation Approaches

Time frame: 2019-2023

Prepared for:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation

Key Findings
  • Two-generation initiatives lengthened their iterative improvement cycles to learn more about their improvement strategies or adjusted their planned approach as needed. Initiatives need to be flexible when engaging in rapid cycle learning to account for the often small number of families served by two-generation initiatives. Being flexible better enables initiatives to gather the feedback they need to make informed decisions.
  • The rapid cycle learning approach was motivating. The narrow scope used by the rapid cycle learning process on NS2G made change faster paced and more manageable than undertaking large changes all at once. The short time-frame boosted motivation and encouraged future learning.
  • The strategies that initiatives tested intentionally integrated supports for staff. While strategies varied across the four initiatives, they all included some form of staff supports. In this way, each initiative recognized the need to bolster staff capacity to improve the staff experience, and ultimately improve service delivery and the family experience.
  • Regular, structured communication helped service providers coordinate their efforts. Initiative staff reported that when their initiatives’ strategies built in time for communication and coordination between staff, they experienced increased levels of comfort in referrals across departments, better coordination, and more capacity to support service delivery.

Two-generation initiatives intentionally combine intensive, high quality adult-focused services with intensive, high quality child-focused programs to improve outcomes for children, primary caregivers, and families. The goal of integrating services for primary caregivers and their children is to achieve better outcomes than those accomplished by serving each generation in isolation (Chase-Lansdale and Brooks-Gunn 2014; Sama-Miller et al. 2017). Research suggests that to effectively support families, these services should be high quality, intensive, and intentionally aligned (Sama-Miller et al. 2017).

This brief is the third in a series of three briefs that aim to support future evaluations in the field of two-generation approaches. This third brief highlights the experiences of four two-generation initiatives that used rapid cycle learning to test and refine strategies to strengthen service delivery. This brief is intended for two-generation service providers who seek to strengthen their initiatives, as well as their evaluation partners.

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