Sustainability Over Time
Fidelity (the degree to which an intervention is delivered as intended) to the program model, over time, can undermine the possibility of program sustainability (Fixsen et al., 2005).
As you learn more about your program’s strengths and limitations, you may identify possible changes or adjustments.
Adaptation and Fidelity
Adaptations to the program model that remove or shift core components can undermine the continued effectiveness of care delivery. Finding the “sweet spot”—where you can adapt to continue your program while not undermining effectiveness—is always going to require careful thinking, the use of your evaluation data, fidelity measures, and involvement from stakeholders.
Often, using technical assistance support can help you understand how best to make these decisions. In general, changes to your program over time can maximize potential benefits when they are done carefully and deliberately as a method for optimizing program fit for your community and organization.
Dynamic Sustainability Framework
Developed by university-based and federal agency researchers, the Dynamic Sustainability Framework depicts the reality that change is constant (Chambers et al., 2013). The differences between static and dynamic sustainability are summarized in Table 1 below.
Table: Static vs. Dynamic Sustainability View
|Static View||Dynamic Sustainability View|
monitored and guided by
|Context Assessment||Initial or during
|Outcomes Assessment||During study by
|Incorporated as part of
|Review of Evidence||Initial - from
|Ongoing; from convergent
sources including replications
|Staffing issues (e.g.,
turnover) and variations
|Ignored/feared||Planned for; investigated|
|Generates new knowledge||No||Yes, feedback to other areas of
science and to earlier stages
Strategies for Sustainability
Sustainability of programs will require adaptation and flexibility. In the following video, practitioners, researchers, and state agency directors share their strategies for program sustainability in the midst of constant change.
If you are taking a dynamic sustainability approach, adaptation will be inherent to your approach.
Doing so requires good data and a precise understanding of the outcomes for your clients and the forces shaping program sustainability.