The vast majority of evidence-based programs (EBPs) for parenting are manualized and, as evaluated in research settings, have been implemented with a high degree of fidelity. In the real world, providers make changes to evidence-based programs they deliver, including combining programs and modifying materials to meet client needs. Additional research on adaptation of EBPs delivered in natural settings is needed to understand the nature of and reasons for adaptation in program delivery. Moore, Bumbarger, & Cooper (2013) proposed a taxonomy for categorizing adaptations based on fit, timing, and valence. In order to examine the utility of this taxonomy, a qualitative study was conducted with parenting education practitioners to better understand the adaptation options and motivations facing practitioners. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with program coordinators from three community providers in a Southeastern U.S. state. Interviews were followed by an in-person focus groups with program coordinators and participants. Questions were adapted from Moore et al. to explore fit, timing, and valence. A new dimension, autonomy, was added to explore the degree to which the provider can freely make changes to the program or is constrained by external ecological influences. Qualitative responses were coded by two members of the research team across the four domains. Internal validity was assessed by a third team member coding a sample of the team’s coding for comparison. Implications for use of the Moore et al. taxonomy in natural settings are discussed, including implications for community providers in multicultural settings and who are facing real-world external pressures.

Author Biography

Steven E. Lize, PhD, is a sociologist and research assistant professor at the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Lize researches human trafficking, collateral consequences of persons involved in the criminal justice system, and evidence-based program evaluation. Dr. Lize also serves as a technical consultant to the Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, to implement cost-benefit analysis of evidence-based interventions for state-level public policy planning. Dr. Lize holds a doctorate in sociology and Master of Arts in International Service from the University of Surrey-Roehampton, England, and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Dominican University, Illinois.

Arlene Bowers Andrews, PhD, LISW, is a social worker, community psychologist, and Carolina Distinguished Professor Emerita of the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Andrews has extensive experience in community-based practice and research about families affected by turbulence. She was a founder and director of the USC Institute for Families in Society, an interdisciplinary center that conducts research to enhance families through community partnerships. She loves helping community organizations to develop and thrive over time. Dr. Andrews’ work includes books, articles, and book chapters regarding family strengthening, violence prevention, and community systems development.

M. Pippin Whitaker, PhD, MSW, is an assistant professor in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Whitaker’s research focuses on multi-level influences on healthy relationships to promote human capabilities. She received her MSW and PhD from The Florida State University.

Cheri Shapiro, PhD, is a research associate professor with the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina. She is a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years of experience in direct service, administrative, and research settings. The primary focus of her research is implementation of evidence-based parenting interventions and prevention of a range of maladaptive outcomes in youth including behavioral problems, child maltreatment, and delinquency. Dr. Shapiro served as project director of the federally funded US Triple P System Population Trial and principal investigator of The Family Networks Project, a federally funded research and demonstration project designed to examine strategies for strengthening families and preventing child maltreatment in young children with disabilities. Dr. Shapiro’s current research focuses on the impact of incarceration on families, implementation of evidence-based parenting programs, and brief parenting interventions.

Nina Nelson, MSW, is a doctoral candidate in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests are outcomes and services for children in foster care and those with special health care needs (CSHCN); support services for parents of foster children and CSHCN; educational and health involvement of parents and caregivers of foster children and CSHCN. Her dissertation study explores how one to one parent support benefits parents of children with autism and factors affecting helpfulness toward caregiving.


The authors are grateful to the University of South Carolina Provost Office for funding this project. We also thank the members of the three community-based organizations and their parent representatives who participated in our planning meetings, interviews, and focus groups.