Policy in Action

Policy is made up of decisions, rules, budgets, and legislation adopted by people and agencies in federal, state, county, and city government, as well as the top levels of organizations. But policy work doesn’t end there. Often it doesn’t even start there. Grassroots efforts and experiences in real-world situations push policy issues up to decision makers. And just creating a rule or changing bylaws doesn’t automatically create changes in practice.

The Center focuses its work on policy in action – the dynamic process of decision-making and management:
  • Identifying emerging needs
  • Collecting data and conducting research to support planning
  • Locating evidence-based policy and practice
  • Engaging children and families who receive services in development and implementation of new policy
  • Developing systems to put policy into practice
  • Finding and developing funding to support services
  • Evaluating the effects of policies and making necessary changes
An example of the Center’s policy work:

In 2017, there was an interruption in the delivery of children’s community-based mental health services. The targeted case management (TCM) program overseen by Children’s Mental Health Bureau, one of the Center’s work partners, needed to make changes to maintain services to children and families. CMHB needed to do TCM differently. But how?

At this point, the work of policy in action began. CMHB and partners, including the Center, investigated other ways of providing services. The Center conducted research and wrote policy briefs to contribute information and guidance to providers and decision makers. Then CMHB and partners created new TCM rules, program design, and reimbursement strategies. The Center helped shepherd the changes through the formal rule-making process. To track the impact of the changes, the Center helped secure funds for and designed an ongoing evaluation program, which is in progress – the first time this program has ever been formally evaluated. Local organizations needed help to put the new rules into effect; the solution was finding new funding to support providers as they developed innovative approaches to the transition.

The work of policy in action is ongoing. When done well, policy work results in more effective services and improved conditions for children and families across the state.

Want more information about the Center’s focus on policy in action? Email policyinaction@umontana.edu.

Focus Areas

Family First Prevention Services Act

Impact and opportunities resulting from this new federal policy that restructures many aspects of child welfare systems

Family Voice Curious

Resources to help organizations deeply engage families in all aspects of their work 

Grants & Revenue Development

Tables of current grants, grant-writing resources, and services to build the capacity of Montana organizations to write grants and develop new sources of funding

Resources for Effective Policy Making in Montana 

Tools, resources, and research that can inform policy and help decision makers on the ground in Montana

Policy Briefs

Funding Types and Block-Grant Entitlement Programs 

Defines and describes types of federal funding

Investment in Early Education

Focuses on case studies and return on investment of three different publicly funded models of early childhood education

Locating & Adapting Evidence-Based Practices

Identifies resource lists of evidence-based practices in human services, health, behavioral health, early childhood, and family and juvenile justice. Includes resources for adapting evidence-based practices for different locations and to increase cultural competence