The Canadian Homelessness Research Network (CHRN) has developed a framework that can help both funders and providers determine what works, why, and for whom it works as they implement various solutions to end homelessness. The framework has two parts and is entitled What Works and for Whom? A Hierarchy of Evidence for Promising Practices Research. Across the housing sector, there is an ongoing debate around models of supportive housing. Proponents of the “Housing First” approach call for investments only in those types of models, while others call for consideration of a range of other models of supportive housing. This framework can assist planners and providers in identifying what works in the context of systems, policies and agency dynamics.
The CHRN website states: “In order to make a significant impact on homelessness, we must begin to understand the effectiveness of our approaches and invest in efforts that have been demonstrated to be effective and hold potential for replication and adaptation. It is essential that we use evaluation and research to generate evidence on promising practices, as well as those that have the potential to be effective.”
Part 1 of the framework clarifies what is meant by “best practices,” “promising practices” and “emerging practices.” Although these terms are used often many still do not fully understand the meaning of the terms.
The definitions of these terms are below:
- Best Practice: A best practice is an intervention, method or technique that has consistently been proven effective through the most rigorous scientific research (especially conducted by independent researchers) and which has been replicated across several cases or examples.
- Promising Practice: An intervention is considered to be a promising practice when there is sufficient evidence to claim that the practice is proven effective, however, there may not be enough “generalizable” evidence to label them best practices. As the name suggests, these practices do hold promise. Promising practices need effective communication; that is to say, others working in the field need to know that a particular strategy that demonstrates positive results exists. As a promising practice is adopted and adapted for use in other settings, a body of evidence begins to build.
- Emerging Practice: Emerging practices are interventions that are new, innovative and which hold promise based on some level of evidence of effectiveness or change that is not research-based and/or sufficient to be deemed a promising or best practice. Emerging practices highlight the need for more rigorous research and would be of particular interest to program evaluators and researchers.
Part 2 of the framework provides a clear structure to help determine what constitutes a promising practice, describe responses to homelessness, and use evidence to gauge program effectiveness. Communities, service providers and governments, can use it as a resource to help guide evaluation assessment strategies and conceptualize the scope and breadth of evaluation research. Programs with limited resources for program evaluation will especially be able to benefit from the simplicity of this framework’s design.
To read more information about the framework tool or, to read the full documents, go to the Homelessness Hub’s Website.