Impact of an outcomes-focused approach for children
What evidence is there about the impact on children and families when assessments are outcomes-based rather than focused on an assessment of needs?
The Highland Pathfinder project was launched in 2006. Its remit was to develop and embed the GIRFEC principles and framework for practice in Inverness and the surrounding area. The Pathfinder project operated as a partnership between local agencies including the Highland Council, Northern Constabulary, NHS Highland, Voluntary Sector and the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA). The project was evaluated and reported on in 2009.
is a summary report of an evaluation that focuses on outcomes and their measurement (Stradling and MacNeil, 2009). You may find it useful to dip into and identify findings and discussion within the report that is of interest to you.
The evaluation found a 'fundamental shift in professional culture' towards a more outcomes-based approach in Highland during the course of the project. Professionals had generally became more confident in applying an outcomes-based approach. This wasn't only about assessing what is important to children, but also about planning and reviewing the agreed outcomes. This seemed to make services more sensitive to changing circumstances for children and more flexible when responding to change.
There were signs that children's needs were being identified earlier and that this was having a positive impact on their development. Fewer children were being referred to the Children's Reporter on non-offence grounds, or for social work support – their needs were instead being met within universal services. Not all these changes can be attributed to a move to an outcomes-based approach – and the writers make the point that other changes were also happening during the life of the project. But these changes are still important. The report also identified other things that needed to happen to embed the GIRFEC approach. It emphasised, for example, the shift in service culture required to move from output -led assessment, planning and review.
There have now been a number of research studies that demonstrate the benefits of an outcomes-based approach for children and adults. They also highlight some complexities and barriers to be overcome when introducing self-directed support. If you are interested in finding out more about this research, there are links to other policy research reports and to tools for evaluating the achievement of outcomes below.
Find out more
You have now come to the end of looking at outcomes for children. If you want to look at the outcomes for adults, you should move on to the next page. Otherwise you can continue this section of the course.