What do we mean by building evidence?
We know from our work with community-based organizations that you and your organization are already experts in pulling in the information you need to do your work on a daily basis. Sometimes what might be missing is the documentation of such efforts.
Using a recipe (la receta) as a metaphor, your recipe (initiative or program) is a combination of ingredients (what you do, how you do it, and with what resources). You and your organization are constantly making changes to the ingredients based on the feedback that you get from your taste-testers (the community members with who you work). Sometimes you might be in the middle of adjusting your ingredients-hechando mas pimiento o minimizando sal- and this might make you forget to write down the changes that you made to your recipe and the reasons for the changes. This is an important step. Documenting and improving your recipe is what we call evaluation or building evidence.
This toolkit is meant to help you document or improve your recipe by keeping track of your ingredients or changes to your ingredients and the information provided by your taste-testers.
Many thanks to June Lee of Korean Community Center of the East Bay for the idea of evaluation as a recipe.
A Community-Centered Evidence-Based Practice Approach
This section explores a community-centered EBP (evidence based practice) approach that we adapted along with many test-tasters, including practitioners, community members and other researchers/evaluators. This EBP approach is meant to align with the work of community-based, culturally-specific organizations that work alongside community members. We hope that it increases understanding of how EBP can look from this perspective.
In October 2011, Casa de Esperanza received an award from the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACF), Family and Youth Services Bureau, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program to fund the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities (NLN) as the national Latin@ domestic violence resource center. A priority of ACF has been to document and provide access to a continuum of trauma-informed and evidence-based practices (EBP). (Examples of that work can be found at www.dvevidenceproject.org and www.promisingfutureswithoutviolence.org.) Despite the long-standing history of culturally specific work being critical to meeting the needs of families, there has been a limited investment in documenting and developing the evidence base for culturally specific services. Given the challenges inherent in generalizing EBP approaches to a wide range of services, the NLN as well as other culturally specific resource centers were tasked by ACF to facilitate discussions on community-relevant approaches to EBP.
After consultation with the research literature, a national workgroup of researchers, community practitioners and ongoing feedback from national audiences we have adapted the Transdisciplanary model (Satterfield et al., 2009) in order to reflect our unique perspective. The result of this work has been captured in the following approach (see figure 1) and is intended to bridge culturally relevant, community based scholarship and EBP for the field of DV.
Figure 1. NLN’s Adapted EBP Approach
Of note, EBP is intended to be a process that guides the weighing of decisions for program implementation and adaptation. The following sources should be considered when making decisions about programming as well as documentation efforts (e.g., evaluation).
Just as the work of the NLN is informed first and foremost by community experiences, this adapted approach is grounded in community expertise as represented graphically by highlighting the “community expertise” circle. We’ve expanded this aspect to not merely consider community members needs and values but to actively engage community members in program decision making and documentation efforts. For example, Cardona et al. (2009) conducted focus groups with Latin@ immigrant families to understand the types of cultural adaptations the community found important before implementing an evidence-based parenting intervention. In this way, Cardona and colleagues collaborated with the community to inform the best possible implementation of an evidence-based treatment. In a similar manner, many culturally specific community-based domestic violence programs develop and adapt their programs based on the voices of the communities they serve. The process of engaging community experts is key to this adapted approach.
Expertise of Community Practitioners & Other Resources
The NLN views the expertise of community practitioners as a key component of EBP not only for the services they provide, but also in their role as consultants to other programs. The dissemination of knowledge among community programs has traditionally taken various forms including information sharing in conferences, roundtables, toolkits, and manuals. Publishing in academic journals has more recently increased for those agencies that have been able to establish academic partnerships. Here too, community practitioners have an important seat at the table, as they are often valuable consultants for academic researchers. Community practitioners can provide unique contributions in identifying meaningful program development and adaptation, culturally appropriate research and evaluation methodology (e.g., how to recruit participants), and interpreting results. Finally, community practitioners can also serve as allies to communities as they have earned the trust of community members. The NLN stresses the importance of building collaborations with community practitioners and other community stakeholders in order to increase funded community-based sources of evidence that offer higher rates of external validity or generalizability to communities, especially those that have historically been underrepresented.
The NLN approach of considering documented evidence is based on a flexible approach that values information from community and academia as equal sources of knowledge. We see community research as a different entity from other academic research, more closely aligned with community and broader in scope. As such we see “documented evidence” as including community-based research, organizational evaluations, as well as traditional academic research. In looking at various forms of evidence, some researchers have created hierarchies of evidence, prioritizing the use of RCTs; however, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), in their document “Expanding the Evidence Universe,” promotes the broader definition of evidence similar to what we have adopted, which sees program evaluation as a significant source of knowledge (Schorr & Farrow, 2011). In our approach, decision-making and documentation of evidence are carried out using an inclusive process and research methods appropriate for communities.
Environmental and Organizational Context
A central element in our work is the inclusion of contextual factors. We know that we cannot separate our work with community members and families from their larger context such as socio-cultural histories and policies (Perilla et al., 1994 & Perilla, 1999). Similarly, we cannot separate EBP from the larger contextual environment. They noted that decision making about programs and the ability to evaluate programs relies on organizational resources which in turn are influenced by the funding environment. These are all elements that need to be considered; thus, we expanded on Satterfield’s model to represent this very important point.
In our work with community organizations, we hope to utilize our adapted EBP three-circle approach as a guiding element in making decisions for implementation and documentation that considers all elements, including contextual factors, while prioritizing the voices of community members. This approach is consistent with Casa de Esperanza’s long-standing belief about the central role of communities in ending domestic violence. Researchers and service providers across various disciplines have highlighted the importance of valuing the community’s expertise about their own realities. Thus, as with any one of our research initiatives, our EBP approach will value program staff and community stakeholders as key elements of our work. In this way, we will approach each opportunity with the flexibility to meet the needs of organizations, utilizing methods that align with the NLN’s commitment to human rights, community wellness, and social change.
We have learned that we are not the ones who are going to end domestic violence in the Latin@ community; it is the community who will end domestic violence. All we need to do is put the work back into their hands. In this section, we are sharing our special ingredient, our theory of change. We hope that it will be useful to other similar organizations who share this value and who are looking to conceptualize their special ingredients or provide support for working from this perspective.
Conceptual Framework for Cultural Specific Community Based Change
This visual is meant to reflect an approach to ending domestic violence (DV) through a cultural specific, community based lens. This approach centers the capacity of communities to create change with the understanding that domestic violence intersects with many other systems of oppression. It reflects various aspects of change at different levels (e.g., individual, family, community, etc.) that we consider critical from this perspective. It is based on multiple types of evidence (community practitioner expertise, community member expertise and documented evidence including academic research) and the community capacity theory of change.
This approach to ending domestic violence (DV) is grounded in the understanding of DV as a violation of human rights. DV occurs within a larger system of inequality and oppression, thus instances of sexism, racism, classism, and others that are often experienced at the same time. The realities of survivors are central; therefore, the expertise of survivors and their families must guide the work we do and how we do it. Other values that are necessary when working from this perspective include mutual respect and humility, examining and understanding privileged identities, valuing diversity, and honoring strengths.
These values and principles are foundational for change to occur in the four areas listed below (community, family, individual, organizational, policy, and socio-political). To end domestic DV in our community change must happen at all of these levels.
Community & Organizational
Social change occurs through strengthening the capacity of communities to end DV. Ending DV will occur by putting the work back into the hands of community, by for example, having community members engage in both knowledge building and exchange. This approach seeks to redistribute power from the organization to the community in order to avoid recreating or perpetuating oppressive systems. Organizations that work from this approach provide opportunities to share power with community members who can influence the organization at every level. Some examples include:
Listening sessions with community members
Community led planning and advisory boards
Ensuring that Latin@s are in positions of leadership within organizations
Undergoing routine assessments of the organization for culturally affirming practices
Including the collective in the process of healing (building and strengthening social networks)
Peer to peer education programs like the Lideres and promotoras/promotores model
Participatory Action Research (PAR), through which community members develop and execute research projects on topics important to them
This approach builds on Latin@ cultural values of familism (centrality of family) and respect (including respect for elders) by encouraging all family members (as defined by the participant, e.g. LGBTQIA, extended family, etc.) to participate in prevention and intervention strategies to end DV. A variety of services tailored to women, men, and youth should be offered. How this might look on the ground:
DV interventions incorporating the entire family;
Parenting support for mothers, fathers, and other primary caregivers;
Engaging men in ending violence against women including and beyond batterer interventions;
Advocating for Latin@s and their families in various contexts, such as in the school system and in medical care;
Working directly with children to reduce the continuation of violence across generations.
Youth involvement in preventive efforts and community initiatives
When working one-on-one, it is important to meet the whole person’s needs, to go beyond that person’s experiences with violence, promote capacity building and highlight strengths across contexts. Some examples include:
Exploring Latin@ collective histories;
Including holistic healing (physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being);
Supporting Latin@s in learning to navigate unfamiliar institutions;
Providing opportunities for survivors to strengthen their natural leadership abilities;
Providing support in the intersections of issues (e.g., HIV prevention with Latin@s).
Policy and Social Political
Multiple social and political forces (e.g., immigration policies) impact survivors’ lives in various ways. An important aspect of the work that is done from this perspective considers these issues and promotes change across systems. Examples include:
Advocating the cultural, social and economic needs of survivors and their families into social policies.
Promoting change within other systems (e.g., partnering with an immigration rights organization to raise knowledge about the impact of immigration enforcement policies on immigrant survivors).
Providing training to DV and non-DV organizations on topics related to DV and systems change.
Identifying and building allies within various organizations working on issues that impact Latin@s, (e.g. Immigrant Rights, Women’s Rights, Disability Rights, LGBTQ, Anti-Racism, etc.).
Building alliances and partnerships as well as coalitions with other communities of color and allies.
It is our hope that this conceptual framework provides a starting point for language to discuss cultural, community based ways of ending DV. It is meant to be a “living” document that can be adapted to reflect the experience of culturally based communities making cultural specific change.
- Si usted es un padre de niños o niñas, la acción más importante que puede tomar para ayudar a sus hij@s es ser cariñoso y respetuoso con su compañer@ íntim@ (del pasado y del presente). También es importante que hable con niños por qué es importante honrar y respetar a las niñas y mostrar cómo la sociedad manda el mensaje de que las mujeres y las niñas son menos importantes que los hombres y los niños, en todas sus manifestaciones (medios de comunicación, deportes, pornografía, sus semejantes) y que esos mensajes son injustos.
- Ya sea que usted es un padre o no, posiblemente hay niños en su vida quienes podrían usar este tipo de mensajes o modelo a seguir. Usted puede ser un entrenador comunitario (o profesional), un maestro en las clases de catequesis, un tío o un padrino. Todas estas son oportunidades para que usted sea un mentor para un joven. Si el adolescente ha experimentado violencia en la casa, usted pude ser la diferencia entre que él adopte la violencia como una forma de vida o no. Piense en esto.
- Si usted es un joven, usted puede tener mucha influencia en sus semejantes y niños más jóvenes. Los adolescentes más jóvenes admiran y aprenden de sus compañeros, hermanos, primos y amigos mayores. Envíe mensajes positivos y modele actitudes saludables para adolescentes. Asegúrese que ellos sepan que no está bien irrespetar a las mujeres y niñas, y que está bien tratar de seguir un camino diferente.