Prevention Services Clearinghouse Equity Action Plan

The Prevention Services Clearinghouse conducts objective and transparent reviews of evidence on programs and services intended to provide enhanced support to children and families and prevent foster care placements. As an initiative of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Clearinghouse aims to uphold ACF’s commitment to and position on equity.

To accomplish this goal, the Clearinghouse is engaging or planning to engage in a number of activities to:

  1. Advance equity through the selection of programs and services for review;
  2. Foster the review of programs and services that have been studied with diverse populations;
  3. Build the capacity of a diverse Clearinghouse staff to further equity; and
  4. Promote equity through intentional and transparent communication with the public.

Advancing Equity Through the Selection of Programs and Services for Review

  • Seeking recommendations for programs and services that may advance equity. In our public call for program and service recommendations we specifically request recommendations for programs and services that are responsive to the criteria specified in the Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government. For example, this can include programs and services that are:
    • designed or adapted for underserved or historically excluded communities,
    • identified by communities affected by disproportionality,
    • currently in use by providers who serve diverse communities, or
    • evaluated in studies conducted with underserved populations.
  • Encouraging the public to submit recommendations for programs and services for review at any time to the Clearinghouse inbox (preventionservices@abtassoc.com). The Clearinghouse FAQ page was recently updated to include more detail on this process and includes guidance on what information to provide with program and service recommendations, including information relevant to equity. The Clearinghouse strives to have broad distribution of the annual public call for program and service recommendations. The Clearinghouse also accepts recommendations at any time to ensure that the timing of the public call does not limit the opportunity to recommend programs and services.
  • Prioritizing the review of culturally adapted, culturally grounded, and equity-focused programs and services designed to meet the needs of underserved populations such as Black, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN), Hispanic or Latino, and other impacted people of color; people who are LGBTQIA2S+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual, Two-Spirit, or other gender or sexual identity); those who experience poverty; people with disabilities; and other populations who historically have experienced disproportionality and disparity in the child welfare system.
  • Enhanced public call outreach, including soliciting input from representatives of the Clearinghouse’s various audiences on how we can continue to expand awareness of public calls, particularly among organizations implementing culturally tailored, culturally grounded, and equity-focused programs and services with underserved populations.

Fostering the Review of Programs and Services That Have Been Studied with Diverse Populations

  • Seeking out a wide range of publicly available studies. The Clearinghouse’s inclusive study search process is not limited to peer-reviewed journals. We encourage members of the public to submit relevant studies to the Clearinghouse inbox (preventionservices@abtassoc.com) or to reference specific studies in their recommendations for programs and services. The Clearinghouse keeps a record of all studies referenced or submitted for potential review and conducts a targeted search process. This process is designed to ensure that those conducting evaluations of programs and services can easily submit new evidence, which may in turn allow the Clearinghouse to incorporate evidence from diverse settings, populations, and communities more quickly.
  • Adding Healthy Native Youth, a tribal-focused clearinghouse, to the list of sources we use to identify studies during our literature search process. This addition will help ensure that relevant studies with tribal populations are identified.
  • Including studies conducted in any country so that programs and services that support children and families can be identified from across the globe. To date, the Clearinghouse has reviewed studies conducted in every region of the United States and over 40 countries.
  • Reviewing programs or services that can be implemented in languages other than English. The Clearinghouse has reviewed programs and services that can be implemented in over 40 languages, including all top 10 spoken languages in the U.S., thus ensuring that there are programs and services in the Clearinghouse that can be implemented in linguistically diverse communities.

Building the Capacity of a Diverse Clearinghouse Staff to Further Equity

  • Ensuring Clearinghouse staff have regular equity-focused trainings so that staff have a shared understanding about our commitment to advance equity as we conduct objective and transparent reviews of evidence for programs and services that can meet the needs of diverse populations, communities, and regions. Staff who facilitate engagement activities with experts and members of the public receive training in equitable facilitation to ensure that all voices are heard and valued.
  • Staffing the Clearinghouse with a diverse team. The Prevention Services Clearinghouse is staffed by an intergenerational, multiracial team of over 70 professionals located across the United States. Staff are diverse in identities and experiences and bring a blend of academic, applied, and lived expertise to the work of the Clearinghouse.

Promoting Equity Through Intentional and Transparent Communication with the Public

  • Publicly sharing the list of all programs and services that have been recommended for review and updating this list quarterly for transparency. The public list of programs and services recommended for review can also help visitors to the website determine if there are culturally adapted, culturally grounded, or equity-focused programs and services that have not yet been recommended.
  • Soliciting specific feedback on how to enhance equity in the Clearinghouse’s Handbook of Standards and Procedures. In the 2021 Federal Register Notice (86 FR 37332), ACF asked for equity-related suggestions and clarifications to inform revisions to the Handbook of Standards and Procedures Version 1.0. This feedback was then incorporated into the Handbook of Standards and Procedures, Draft Version 2.0. The Clearinghouse invited the public to comment on the proposed changes and clarifications in the new version in a 2023 Federal Register Notice (88 FR 73021).
  • Engaging with individuals with equity expertise. To inform revisions to the Handbook of Standards and Procedures that are responsive to issues of equity, we engaged with individuals whose expertise includes equity in child welfare systems, equity in systematic review methods, culturally relevant programming, and program adaptations, particularly adaptations made when adapting programs for different cultural groups.
  • Growing the Clearinghouse email list. Since the launch of the Prevention Services Clearinghouse in 2019, the email list has grown to include over 2,600 members and includes subscribers from all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and a number of Indigenous communities. Continuing to expand the mailing list will help ensure that a diverse group of individuals and organizations are invited to recommend programs and services through our public call and are aware of Clearinghouse activities, requests for information, and resources.
  • Providing public call materials in both English and Spanish to ensure that materials are accessible in the two primary languages spoken in the United States.
  • Forthcoming activities include:
    • Sharing the characteristics of study participants on the website (e.g., race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, etc.) for each program or service reviewed so that visitors can more easily determine if the population contributing to the evidence aligns with their population of focus. The Clearinghouse’s plans to display the demographic characteristics of the participants in the studies reviewed can help users understand the extent to which the programs and services reviewed by the Clearinghouse have been evaluated with diverse populations and populations relevant to their local contexts.
    • Producing briefs synthesizing Clearinghouse findings across programs and services, including a summary of participant characteristics in across all the studies that have been reviewed and a summary of potential gaps in the evidence reviewed by the Clearinghouse. Syntheses of the Clearinghouse’s findings are also intended to identify opportunities for evidence-building, especially for culturally adapted, culturally grounded, or equity-focused programs.
    • Engaging with advisors and individuals with lived expertise to inform Clearinghouse website materials and products and help ensure that they are accessible and actionable for diverse audiences.

The Clearinghouse will continue to revisit this equity action plan and provide updates to the public.

Date Equity Plan Last Updated: December 2023