Policies/Procedures

Policies/Procedures

Policies and procedures that prepare agencies for expected research activities will position the agency to achieve the most with the least trial and error. Some of the information in this section of the research plan may include factual information about the existence of local or State Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements as well as IRB review requirements for local universities or local or national child welfare services research vendors with whom the agency has a substantial likelihood of collaborating. In general, children and families involved with child welfare are vulnerable subjects and if information is collected from them—about those services or any other experiences—then there must be IRB approval of informed consent and assent procedures (This is not, typically, the case for routine data collection used in the process of monitoring services—e.g., to meet the CFSR reporting requirements).

  • Procedures should be outlined in anticipation of common requests of child welfare agencies—for example, when outside investigators are seeking to conduct research in the child welfare agency, when staff members are seeking to initiate research projects or when student interns want to conduct research. This section should also clearly indicate when IRB approval is required, the process for obtaining IRB approval and the expected relationship between IRB approval by the agency (or the State) and the governing institutions of collaborating researchers (e.g., local universities). Information about how consent can be obtained is also critical because without prior planning, the source of consent and assent for such activities as obtaining educational records or conducting focus groups can become challenging. Some agencies require child welfare worker consent on behalf of a dependent minor, some require parental consent and some require judicial consent. All should require at least assent of the minor to participate, although the ages for assent may vary. Prior planning or, at minimum, a website or wiki that makes this information available to subsequent investigators is likely to be very useful.
  • Procedures should also be developed for how the research findings will be communicated and disseminated in a communications plan. The plan will address how to prevent the “burying” of negative findings. In the end, a good communications plan will result in agency staff at all levels being able to indicate why research is important to the agency, the primary research questions currently being answered and (eventually) the findings from the research and their implications for practice.
  • Policies developed that address how the agency will collaborate with outside investigators should include, but not be limited to:
    • Identification of a liaison to outside researchers.
    • The expectations for decision-making related to the implementation of research.
    • Clarification about the IRB processes that will be undertaken.
    • The appropriate use of incentives for research participation.
    • The periodic reporting of research progress.
    • The timing for review of reports before they are disseminated more broadly (as well as the right to include a letter summarizing concerns about the report in the appendix of the report).
    • Criteria for authorship on subsequent research articles.
    • The sharing of any costs for implementing the study.





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