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Issue Briefs

These documents were produced by the Promising Practices Network (PPN) and are published online as part of PPN's Issue Brief series.

Topic Areas

PPN Issue Briefs provide a concise overview of research-based information on a variety of topics.

Child Abuse and Neglect
Evidence-Based Practices
Head Start
High School Graduation
Low Birth Weight


Promising Practices for Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect

Victim of child abuse
Every year in the United States, more than one out of every hundred children are victims of substantiated child abuse and neglect. Child maltreatment burdens individuals and society in a number of different ways. First and foremost it harms the victim, and not just when maltreatment happens—it also has long-term consequences. Additionally, there are financial and other non-monetary costs at the societal level. This summary provides a concise overview of research-based information related to preventing child abuse and neglect.

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What is an Evidence-Based Practice?

Woman using laptop to do research
Facing a growing emphasis on accountability for achieving results in the area of children and family services, decisionmakers such as funders and service providers are increasingly making programmatic choices based on the best research evidence. But what is the best available research evidence? And how can decisionmakers without research training make sense of that evidence? This issue brief is intended to help PPN visitors understand some of the variation in how the field of child and family services defines "best available research evidence." We describe the history of evidence-based practices (EBPs) and review varying definitions of EBPs, comparing the PPN criteria with those from other organizations.

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Head Start:  What Do We Know?

Child in Head Start center
This issue brief is intended to clarify some of the reasons that Head Start has been difficult to evaluate in a rigorous way, and why even the most rigorous evaluations of Head Start have been criticized for having shortcomings. Many of the difficulties in assessing Head Start are inherent to the structure of the program itself. This brief should illuminate for policymakers and others the reasons why many consider the issue of Head Start's effectiveness to be as of yet unresolved.

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Promising Practices for Promoting High School Graduation

High school graduates
High school graduation is widely valued because it usually leads to higher earnings for individuals, and also because communities with more-educated citizens have greater productivity and economic growth. There is evidence that graduating high school provides an additional boost to earnings above and beyond the earnings of individuals with the same number of years of schooling but no diploma. This summary explains the importance of high school graduation and describes research-based approaches to promoting high school graduation.

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Promising Practices for Preventing Low Birth Weight

Premature baby in hospital
Low birth weight is associated with worse outcomes over the entire life course. Lower birth weight babies are more likely to die in the first year of life and suffer from chronic health conditions, as well as compromised cognitive development. The disadvantage from low birth weight persists into adulthood, where it is associated with lower scores on IQ tests at age 18, lower educational attainment, and lower incomes. The percentage of births that are low birth weight is one of the most widely used indicators of population-level health around the globe, and reducing LBW is a common public health policy objective. This summary provides a concise overview of research-based information related to preventing low birth weight.

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