Informed by stakeholders, including youth and people with lived experience of youth homelessness, a knowledge synthesis gap analysis will be a key strategy in identifying, adapting, and mobilizing knowledge on effective and innovative policy and program interventions. MtS will conduct an analysis that includes an assessment of the current knowledge base through: a) a systematic literature review; b) a collaborative mapping project (with the National Learning Community on Youth Homelessness) identifying promising practices in prevention and housing stabilization; and c) an international innovation review supported by our global partners. The knowledge gained through these exploration activities will enable us to prioritize policy, practice and interventions for research, resource development, demonstration projects and knowledge mobilization.
2. Research and Evaluation
This is a key component of our social R&D approach. Selected projects and initiatives will be funded for research and evaluation. Additionally, we will go deeper in planning, research and development through a series of Demonstration Projects, operated through the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Demonstration Lab. Demonstration projects are intended to produce an evidence base for a policies, practices and program models, where rigorous research and evaluation support practice, determine program fidelity, shape outcomes measurement and support to continuous improvement. As a policy instrument, demonstration projects can contribute to evidence-based decision making, to effective funding allocation, and to support taking innovation to scale in a way that demonstrates fidelity to a program model or intervention.
3. Dissemination, Uptake and Capacity Building
MtS will curate, summarize, and disseminate what we learn about innovative approaches, with the goal of making emerging practices accessible to diverse users. MtS will achieve this aim by leveraging the success of the Homeless Hub, which will be the engine to disseminate MtS content. Research outputs to improve overall capacity may include toolkits to support program replication, academic publications to provide an evidence base, reports and policy briefs designed for end-users, instructional videos and other technical supports, as well as a robust distribution system accompanied by an integrated social media strategy.
Additionally, we will support uptake and early adoption through training and technical assistance, as well as nurturing peer to peer learning and staff exchanges, so policy makers and practitioners will engage with each other to support knowledge sharing and building. The MtS training strategy will facilitate dissemination through staff exchanges, internships, and opportunities for emerging scholars to learn from and support this work including participating in process and outcomes evaluation. This will build the capacity of social sector organizations.
MtS’ partnership design will ensure that the knowledge produced is relevant, feasible and meets necessary evidence standards. A sound government relations strategy involving A Way Home Canada and other high impact partners will support the uptake of knowledge produced at a policy and funding level.
4. FULL IMPLEMENTATION to foster Scale and Impact
Research impact is defined as “the effect the research-informed products, policies, and services have on end-users as measured by the non-academic organization. It is measured not only in metrics of utilization but also by changes in the lives of citizens, the health of the environment, or animal welfare, depending on the ultimate end-user the organization is seeking to address.” A measure of impact for MtS will be the ability to scale up the innovative policies and practices for which evidence is created. Implementation science is enhancing our understanding of the systematic and focused processes to increase the uptake of research findings into policy, service delivery and routine practices, thereby accelerating impact. The McConnell Foundation refers to the process of scaling up to change institutions, policy, and law; scaling out to replicate innovations in different communities; and scaling deep to produce a cultural shift by transforming hearts and minds towards the change you want to see.
Our full implementation strategy will involve deepening our sector outreach and engagement regarding effective prevention-based programs and interventions. This will also be supported through the community systems planning work of A Way Home Canada and the Systems Planning Collective. We will build on our government relations strategy to align policy and funding to support community adoption and implementation of prevention initiatives and also work with the private sector and philanthropic organizations to support this transition. We will monitor impact through a comprehensive research agenda focusing on our own KMb efforts as well as an assessment of uptake across the country.