Impact in Children and Young Peoples Services


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A framework for outcomes for young people, and explore key issues in evidencing the impact of interventions with children and young people

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Impact in Children and Young Peoples Services

  1. 1. Gill Millar South West Regional Youth Work Adviser Impact in children and young people’s services – are you investment ready? April 2014
  2. 2. 4 Questions…  Why do outcomes & impact matter?  What are the key outcomes for children & young people?  What is a ‘theory of change’?  How can we demonstrate the impact of work with children, young people and families?
  3. 3. Why do outcomes matter? Government, commissioners & funders now think about the ‘outcomes’ & ‘impact’ of interventions as being more important than the processes used in achieving them Shrinking resources for public services, so money needs to be spent on interventions which have a strong chance of success (‘evidence based practice’) Funders want to see ‘return on investment’, and want to invest in interventions with a track record of moving people from a negative to a positive trajectory Youth work in particular has been severely criticised for not having enough evidence of its effectiveness
  4. 4. What are the key outcomes for young people? Young Foundation Framework for Outcomes for Young People  Review of research studies into young people’s transitions to adulthood (evidence base)  Identify critical ‘capabilities’ required to make successful transitions  Showed how possession of these capabilities enabled young people to progress successfully  Identified a range of tools that could be used to measure these capabilities
  5. 5. 7 clusters of capabilities
  6. 6. What is a ‘theory of change’? NESTA model core elements: Ultimate Goal(s) – the top-line impact you want to achieve (reduce youth offending rates; improve educational achievement) Intermediate outcomes - direct outcomes resulting from your work/project Programme activities: what you will actually do to achieve the intermediate outcomes Linking the stages together: showing which activities produce which outcomes and how that contributes to the ultimate goals Examine your assumptions: what are you assuming/taking for granted? Challenge and justify these
  7. 7. What is your ‘theory of change’? Example Theory of Change Evidence required Open access youth work will attract young people who would engage in negative activities without it Information about the young people who attend – backgrounds, current capabilities Skilled youth workers will engage those young people in ways that enable them to develop capabilities Information about how individuals and groups progress during their engagement Young people with improved capabilities will make better transitions Young Foundation literature review Impact measures
  8. 8. Outcomes based commissioning  Commissioning based on the outcomes rather than the processes used to achieve them (e.g. ‘25% reduction in youth offending’, rather than ‘10 potential young offenders receive intensive support’)  Can be based on the savings that will be made by preventing the negative outcome, rather than the cost of providing the preventative service  Tends to be based on longer term changes, so contracts are longer  Usually linked to payment by results, with full payment to providers only on achieving the successful outcome (e.g. Government Youth Programme, with phased payments)
  9. 9. Preparing for Payment by Results  Know the cost to public bodies of the negative outcomes commissioners want to reduce (e.g. the total costs of youth crime)  Build a track record of delivering outcomes, with evidence that your programmes achieve commissioners’ desired outcomes  Establish potential delivery partnerships that are ready to collaborate on delivery  Engage with potential social investors (public sector commissioners, private sector investors, trusts)
  10. 10. Tips and things to consider  Can you influence your funders about the kinds of outcomes they want you to evidence?  Really think about your ‘theory of change’ for each project – it will help you measure the right things  Try to focus on ‘outcome’ rather than ‘input’ data collection (though you might want both in order to demonstrate your theory of change)  Invest in appropriate information systems – maybe jointly?  Use evidence to improve practice in your organisation, not just to inform funders
  11. 11. More support? Nationally: Young Foundation has produced additional guidance on measuring outcomes (Jan 2013) Regionally: Regional Youth Work Unit has set up Evidencing Outcomes Network, to help organisations benchmark their models, and to share best practice South West Forum’s Impact Hub run training and events and can provide tailored support
  12. 12. Visit our web-site at