Practice to Research and Back in a Social Service Agency: Trying to DO BETTER

Patrick M. Tyler, W. Alex Mason, Barb Vollmer, Alexandra L. Trout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: There is a growing emphasis of evidence-based program requirements being integrated into social welfare policies for youth care services in the U.S. This trend highlights the need for increased practitioner understanding and involvement in the research process to develop and implement evidence-based programs for youth with emotional and behavioral disorders who receive residential services. Objective: The purpose of this review was to provide residential care practitioners and researchers with an understanding of a transdisciplinary translational research approach for social service agencies and the research activities that can be included. Method: A review of the literature from a collaborative project between a social service agency and university that resulted in the development and testing of an aftercare intervention for youth departing residential programs was used to explain the framework. Result: The DO BETTER framework outlines a process that (1) focuses on input from practitioners and consumers to help determine problems that impact youth and families, (2) involves research and practitioner partnerships to conduct a variety of research activities to create solutions and (3) provides results that are useful for practitioners. The research activities of the project illustrate the iterative processes of practice to research and back to practice that included youth, caregivers, practitioners, researchers, and experts from other disciplines. Conclusion: The framework is provided to help researchers plan for collaborative research with social service agencies, and to help non-researchers in agencies become more familiar with research activities to increase their involvement in program design, testing, implementation and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-165
Number of pages17
JournalChild and Youth Care Forum
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • Research to practice
  • Transdisciplinary research
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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