Step 4b: Customize and Localize Your Program (Adaptation)

4b: Customize and Localize Your Program

Now that you’ve chosen an evidence-based program [definition], it's time to customize and localize it for your target audience. This is also called program adaptation.

To retain all of the benefits of evidence-based programs, your version should match the original as closely as possible. After all, the original program was based on a certain set of core components. The more you change those core components, the further your program will be from the original and the greater a risk you take with your investment. Staying true to the original program is called program fidelity [definition].

That said, every community is different, and nearly every program will need some customization to make it relevant and have the most impact. Think about the resources and capacity of your organization and of your partners. Think about the needs of your target population.

Remember that balance is everything and keep these ideas in mind:

  • your program should meet local needs without compromising program effectiveness, and
  • whenever you make a change, be sure it is necessary and worth the risk.

Explore customization resources below or...

Step 4aChoose an evidence-based program.

Select Resources

Use the links below to find out more about program adaptation and customization.

Customize and Localize (Adapt)

These links will help you learn to customize and localize the program you've chosen to deliver in your community.

Guidelines for Choosing and Adapting Programs (PDF) PDF file

RTIPs Adaptation Guidelines Fact Sheet

Acceptable and Risky Adaptations (PDF) PDF file

A checklist of essentials for customizing and localizing an evidence-based program

Program Fidelity Guide from the University of Wisconsin (PDF) PDF file

Program fidelity and adaptation: Meeting local needs without compromising program effectiveness

Using Principles of Effectiveness to Enhance the Quality and Impact of Family-Based Prevention Programs (PDF) PDF file

This article presents principles for improving the quality and impact of existing evidence-based prevention programs targeting children, youth, and their families. It illustrates these principles by using examples from well-established, family focused, preventive programs.

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