Implementation Framework

The Children’s Bureau has developed a three-phase model for system improvement in consultation with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). The three phases are:

  • Foundational Phase:  During this phase, an implementation team is formed, data are analyzed and decisions are made about what goals and initiatives will be the focus of the systems change.
  • Planning Phase:  This is the phase in which implementation is planned, needed infrastructure is developed and monitoring and feedback loops are designed.
  • Action Phase:  During this phase, the plans are executed and the implementation team is engaged in continuous monitoring and improvement of the change effort.

For more information on NIRN, visit

It is important to remember that the major activities of practice and system improvement are ongoing and cyclical. One activity shapes and leads to the next, although steps are not always sequential; sometimes agencies must “backtrack” to a previous activity to re-evaluate, adjust, and even complete (or partially complete) the activity again.

Note that the implementation steps discussed in the links below relate to new practice innovations, although the concepts of implementation research have comparable application to the implementation of systemic improvements to programs and infrastructure, such as continuous quality improvement.

Note also that there are a number of models for implementing effective systems change. The Systems Change section of the Additional Resources section contains several resources for further reading.