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B: Procedures <<>> Continuous Invention <<>> Best Practice

At the basic practice level, agencies interpret and then reframe the rules as detailed procedures, covering every aspect of day-to-day child protection practice. These procedures are more detailed and prescriptive than the rules on which they are based and reflect local interpretations and preferences. This results in significant variation in practice from agency to agency.

At the basic practice level, Workers have little latitude or need for independent judgment. Practice is, for the most part, a matter of following agency procedures. Even so, practice varies from worker to worker based on individual interpretation of the procedures and personal practice preferences. The extent of this variance is a function of management tolerance for deviation from procedures and the extent to which supervisory controls limit the variance.

At the intermediate practice level, continuous invention expands practice beyond procedures. Workers create or invent new and innovative strategies and techniques to achieve specific outcomes. These inventions conform to the relevant procedures. They represent the critical difference in practice achieving expected outcomes and practice that does not.

At the advanced practice level, the expansion to best practice as the basis for intervention is integral to the principles practice element. Best practice in this context means most decisions and actions are primarily guided by formal theory and empirical evidence of effectiveness. Further, the theoretical and empirical underpinning for decisions and actions changes over time, as improved theoretical constructs and newer research replace older knowledge and understanding. “Best practice” is not based on opinion, personal preference, or exigent circumstances. Instead, “best practice” is based on approaches, strategies, and interventions validated as effective through research, evaluation, and through other techniques empirically demonstrating their utility and practice value.

How it works:

At the basic practice level, practice is directed, within management controlled limits, by designated procedures. At the intermediate practice level, within the procedure context, workers continuously invent strategies and techniques to achieve specific outcomes for individual children. At the advanced practice level, those inventions, in turn, conform to and are guided by best practice.

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