It is critical to develop a strategy that communicates and engages staff with the purpose and value of the research project so that they see the effort as part of the larger picture of improving practice in child welfare. This strategy should include plans beyond initial introductory discussions about the research project itself and carry through during all phases of the research project. Staff will need encouragement and motivation to maintain commitment to accurate and consistent data collection over time, and recognition for their efforts and contributions to advancing the field through their participation.
Agencies can also include staff in this process by establishing workgroups or advisory committees in the early stages of developing the research plan. A few areas to note in this step are:
Both executive and mid-level management should communicate clearly to all staff the importance of the research plan and the research questions that will be answered. They should provide an overview of the anticipated benefits to the agency, the staff and the consumers served while acknowledging the “costs” of such an undertaking -- collecting and entering more data, adhering to protocols, etc. Additionally, progress updates abo t challenges to implementing the research plan as well as findings as they become available should be circulated to all staff.