Who We Are
About the Promising Practices Network
The Promising Practices Network (PPN) is a group of individuals and organizations who are dedicated to providing quality evidence-based information about what works to improve the lives of children, families, and communities.
Network members provide guidance and collaborate to develop and promote the PPN website. A core team of staff at the RAND Corporation develop and maintain the website. PPN also relies on the ongoing support and expertise of many scientific reviewers and subject matter experts.
Who runs PPN?
This project is operated by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world's preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years.
As a nonpartisan organization, RAND is widely respected for operating independent of political and commercial pressures. RAND disseminates its findings and recommendations broadly through the media to help inform public policy debate.
RAND brings to PPN extensive experience in the child policy arena, with more than 150 researchers and consultants working in areas such as child health, juvenile justice, education, child care, labor, and demographics. RAND's analysis has shaped public policy on a range of problems facing young people, including prenatal health, substance abuse, firearms violence, and early childhood interventions.
Who is PPN's audience?
PPNís target audience includes policymakers, service providers, and other decisionmakers at all levels who care about improving outcomes for children and families. The site helps decisionmakers understand what approaches and programs have been shown in the scientific literature to improve outcomes in various areas such as child health and education.
What's the history behind PPN?
PPN is an unprecedented web site in that it was founded by social service practitioners and policymakers who had identified a need for a particular type of information, rather than being created by information providers or others who felt people could use their services.
Can after school programs reduce juvenile crime and improve school performance in any meaningful way?
Are there any programs that have demonstrated they can reduce teen drug use?
Can home visiting programs have a lasting impact on children?
The urgency of questions like these points to a knowledge gap on the practices and programs that support children and families. For too long, impartial, results-oriented research information has been a challenge to come by. A program funder or practitioner interested, for example, in improving childrenís health would find it daunting to sort through all the evaluation literature and find programs whose effectiveness had been soundly demonstrated. Typing "child health policy" into an Internet search engine would yield tens of thousands of responses of wildly varying quality.
There's no question that government and the private sector could do a better job if they had better access to reliable information on effective programs and practices. As issues of accountability and measurable outcomes increasingly define the development of new social programs, itís essential that practitioners have an objective picture of whatís working (or has the likelihood of doing so). Policymakers and funders, meanwhile, must have a foundation of reliable information to make sound investments and avoid becoming mired in battles of competing ideologies.
Narrowing the knowledge gap is the goal of PPN. The site provides a first step for those who ask "We know where we want to go and what outcomes we want to achieve, now what do we do to get there?"
An Innovative Partnership
PPN was launched by a partnership between four state-level intermediary organizations that help public and private organizations improve the well-being of children and families:
The Colorado Foundation for Families and Children
The Family and Community Trust (Missouri)
Georgia Family Connection Partnership
The Foundation Consortium for California's Children & Youth
These founding PPN partners shared a common belief in results-oriented decisionmaking based upon scientific evidence, yet they found it difficult to access the information they needed to achieve this. They created the site in 1998 with the goal of encouraging a shift towards results-oriented policy and practice by providing easier access to evidence-based information via the Internet.
As the site grew, it became clear that a new level of resources and expertise would be required to sustain it. In 2000, the siteís broadening scope and widening popularity led the partners to seek a fifth partner to take over site operations and content development. After a nationwide search, the founding partners chose RAND because of its reputation for objective, high-quality research on child and family issues across multiple domains. RAND staff were eager to join the partnership because it helps fulfill RANDís mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. Today, RAND staff operate all aspects of the project and additional organizational and individual members across the nation have joined the Network.
PPN is a one-stop source of unbiased information.
Here's what PPN offers to those who design, implement, or legislate children's programs:
Objective, evidence-based information.
Every "Proven" or "Promising" program and practice included on the website is examined by RAND teams of researchers and other scientific experts to ensure that findings reflect credible methodology. "Other Reviewed Programs" have not been fully reviewed by PPN for effectiveness, but they have been examined by one or more credible organizations. High-profile programs are subject to the same thorough scrutiny as lesser-known initiatives.
PPN covers an extraordinary range of services, activities, approaches, and policies in education, child health and safety, and family issues—all of which have been shown to achieve positive results for children of all ages, from prenatal to age 18.
Findings that would have once required a lengthy search to uncover, or that would have remained unknown to all but the readers of academic and research journals, are now easy to come by in user-friendly summaries.
In a field dominated by advocacy groups, practitioners and policymakers know they can trust RAND to remain unaffiliated with any ideology.
Less than one percent of total government expenditures on children and youth goes for research and development. Clearly, any information that is comprehensive and credible is a precious commodity for practitioners and decision makers. RAND and the other Network members are committed to have PPN play a leading role in bringing that information to the forefront—helping to ensure that the investments made for childrenís well being are informed by evidence-based analysis.