Evaluating the effectiveness of social work in employment services center


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9th International Conference on Evaluation for Practice
Sanna Blomgren (National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland)
Chautauqua, USA

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Evaluating the effectiveness of social work in employment services center

  1. 1. How to evaluate the effectiveness ofadult social work in employmentservices centerSanna Blomgren20.5.2013The 9th International Conference on Evaluation for PracticeChautauqua Institution, NY7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 1
  2. 2. FinSoc – Evaluation of Social Services Group• Active player in evaluation of social services since 1997• Central role in bringing evaluation knowledge to Finland andspreading it to practitioners• Maintains a website introducing adult social work evaluationto social work professionals and students: concepts,methods, literature, events etc. (in Finnish)• Active in Facebook (a secret group for adult social workevaluation, 92 members)• At the moment the main focus is on developing measures toevaluate effectiveness of adult social work and to build amodel to disseminate effectiveness information to decision-makers7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 2
  3. 3. Some examples of quantitative evaluationmeasures in use in Finland• RAVA- a measure to evaluate the functional ability of the elderly andtheir need for services• ASCOT measure (adult social care outcomes toolkit) has just beenintroduced in elderly care (developed in UK)• GAS (Goal Attainment Scale) in use in publicly financed rehabilitationservices: goal setting and evaluating goal attainment• Available in Finnish dozens of simple measures to evaluate thefunctional ability – a database called ”To function” (”Toimia” inFinnish)• Work Ability Index has been used to evaluate the effectiveness ofemployment measures (focus on medical factors)• In some local projects measures to evaluate the individual change arebeing developed  usually do not connect the contextual factors andmethods and measures used with the individual change7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 3
  4. 4. KEY Measure (AVAIN in Finnish)• A quantitative online measure to evaluate adult social work inmunicipal social services office• Developed at the National Institute for Health and Welfare ina project 2011-2012 in cooperation with one Finnishmunicipality (Seinäjoki)• Takes into account the goals of social work, contextualfactors and the content of the interventions• The client has got a key role in setting the goals andevaluating the goal attainment• Single-case design  to connect the attainment of individualgoals to contextual factors and measures and methods used• Realist evaluation  “what works for whom in whatcircumstances?”  from black box to white box7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 4
  5. 5. KEY measure helps social workers to:• Set the goals for social work with the client• Decide/ assess what kind of measures and methods would bemost useful to reach the goals• Take into account various situational/ contextual factors• After a period evaluate how the goals have been reached andwhat contextual factors and measures were essential in theprocess7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 5
  6. 6. KEY Measure as a tool for social workers to improvesocial work practice• A tool to practice goal-oriented social work• A tool to help social workers to analyze what kind ofmeasures to use when the client has got certain kind of goals• The client has got a key role in defining his/ her goals andalso evaluating the outcome/ goal attainment• Social worker helps in clarifying the life situation and in goalsetting• Social worker uses her/his expertise in defining the contextualfactors that are essential in each case and plans themeasures to be used in each case7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 6
  7. 7. KEY measure• By specifying the contextual factors and the content of theinterventions the KEY measure helps the worker to evaluate”what works for whom in what context?” An online reporting tool has been developed to help social workerhimself/ herself to analyze the situation and his/her practice Social worker is able to improve his/ her work and practicetowards evidence-based social work In the future the municipalities would be able to allocate theirresources to operations and measures which have proven to beeffective and help people most7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 7
  8. 8. Unemployment and long-term unemployment inFinland• In March 2013: 287 000 unemployed jobseekers, which is 40900 more than in March 2012 (+17 %)• The unemployment rate 9,0 %• In March 2013 there were 68 200 long-term unemployed.That is 9500 people more than in March 2012 (+16 %)• In addition in March 2013 there were 106 700 people inactivation measures which means that they are not in normalemployment7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 8
  9. 9. Employment services center• One-stop shop for the long-term unemployed• Since 2002, now about 43 around Finland• Starting point to enable close collaboration between centraland local government service providers, central partcooperation between employment services and social work• Also involved: Social Insurance Institution, health services,study advisor, psychologist, rehabilitation officer etc.• The main goal is to rehabilitate the long-term unemployedback to work or education – step by step• Big part of the long-term unemployed have problems withhealth, mental health, alcohol, drugs, social situations,excessive indebtedness7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 9
  10. 10. How to develop a measure to evaluate social workin employment services center• KEY measure as a starting point• Employment Services Center of Vantaa (the 4th biggest cityof Finland) as a key partner• At the first time when the long-term unemployed comes to theCenter he or she meets social worker and employment officerindividually• After that he or she meets very often at the same time bothsocial worker, employment officer and community nurse whowork as a close-knit team Professionals learn from each other What is the social work special in the teamwork?7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 10
  11. 11. How to develop a measure to evaluate social workin employment services center (2)Central questions when developing the KEY measure:– What is the program theory behind social work practice inemployment services center  Is it different from municipal socialservices office?– What is the role of social work if compared to employment andhealth services  What social workers can do and what is thefocus of their work if compared to other professionals?7.6.2013 Esityksen nimi / Tekijä 11
  12. 12. How to develop a measure to evaluate social work inemployment services center (3)• To build a knowledge base what is done and what should bedone when working with long-term unemployed– Meetings with social workers working in employment servicescenter– Observations in Vantaa employment services center: social workand multiprofessional teamwork– Review of the literature• What helps long-term unemployed people to do well• What has showed to be working in employment services and adultsocial work generally To include the most crucial factors into the evaluation measure7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 12
  13. 13. The important factors: What seems to be workinggenerally with long-term unemployed people• Trust in other people and in society• Motivation• Tailored services• Focusing on individual strengths• Focusing on solutions, not on problems and obstacles• Listening the individual carefully when deciding the measureswhat to do  only tailored and focused measures will work• Enough time for change• Challenges: Local labor market situation, the attitudes andexperiences of local employers to employ long-termunemployed7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 13
  14. 14. 7.6.2013 THL 14
  15. 15. A new way to work7.6.2013 THL 15
  16. 16. Challenges• How to include all the important factors into the evaluation measure– And at the same time keep the evaluation measure as simple aspossible to ensure that it is being used  It should be an aid, nota burden• To specify the goals of social work when it is been practiced in veryclose cooperation with other professionals• To decide can and should social work and work made byemployment officers and community nurses be separated when theywork as a close-knit team• To take better into account structural factors that maintain socialproblems, poverty, homelessness, long-term unemployment etc.• To integrate evaluation measures into social work practice• To convince social workers that KEY measure is meant to help themimprove their practice – not just a new measure to monitor theirwork7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 16
  17. 17. Conclusions• Often the employment activation measures don’t help the long-termunemployed to get back to work  social work is needed to find apath forward and to act as a case manager before the service useris ready for the activation measures and finally back to employment• The official goals in employment services centers are usually inemployment  A structured way to evaluate the effects of socialwork is needed• When building an evaluation measure a close cooperation betweenresearcher and social work practitioners is needed, this cooperationneed to be built on trust• A measure which is based on realist evaluation and single casedesign can make social work visible and enables the opening of theblack box of social work practice• Specially designated evaluation measure for social work can makesocial work more visible in a multiprofessional team and also helpsother professionals to see the importance of social work7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 17
  18. 18. Thank You!Sanna.Blomgren@thl.fiNational Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland7.6.2013 THL, FinSoc-team 18