Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Importance of Fidelity

No, I'm not going to write about a man and pictures he tweeted to single women even though he is married ~ that's nasty and I'm tired of hearing about it.

I'm taking about PROGRAM FIDELITY, what it means and why it's important. Whenever something works, whether it's a restaurant or a literacy program there's always a need to replicate that good idea. At the same time, adjustments need to be made for it to work in other places. In making those adjustments, we have to figure out what is the most essential part of the program that needs to be replicated. The HIPPY model is over 30 years old and has been replicated in hundreds of locations in Israel, Australia, US, New Zealand, Canada, Argentina and many other countries. Over the years we've refined what program elements are necessary and must be replicated and devised various structures to ensure fidelity to the model. These include preservice training of coordinators, onsite training of home visitors, manuals/documents, onsite monitoring, and last but not least accreditation. I've been involved with the accreditation committee to update and finalize a new and simplified accreditation instrument that will be rolled out nationally in the Fall. This document reflects a sea change in our approach to model fidelity. In the past we've identify all the quality indicators that we would like program sites to implement. This new document pares down criteria to the absolute "must haves" for program implementation. A separate process is being developed for identifying and recognizing programs who show excellence and go above and beyond the accredited must haves. Why is this important? Are we just being control freaks? It's important because social science research / evaluation is difficult enough, but is impossible and unreliable unless we can ensure that what is implemented in one community is substantially the same as what is implemented in another community. Program fidelity allows us to say with confidence that if a program works in Irving Texas it can work just as well in Irvine California.

So, that's an inside look at program fidelity!

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