Supporting children and young people's wellbeing
Supporting children and young people's wellbeing

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Supporting children and young people's wellbeing

7 Making a difference

This course considers the kinds of practice that might make a difference to children and young people’s wellbeing as well as how we can evaluate whether any difference has been made. In this next activity you will look at the ways in which practices can be evaluated.

Activity 7 Evaluating practice: why and how?

Timing: Allow about 1 hour and 30 minutes

Task 1

At this point, think about what to evaluate and how by answering the following two questions.

  1. Why might it be important to know whether practice is having an impact on children and young people’s wellbeing? Try to think of at least two different examples.
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  1. Taking the example of a family centre such as Hedgerows, what would you try to evaluate and how? Again, try to think of at least two different examples.
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Discussion

It might seem obvious that we want to know if practice is having an impact on children and young people’s wellbeing, but there are several perspectives on this, including to:

  • improve practice (some approaches could be dropped and others enhanced if it was apparent which ones were effective in their impact)
  • demonstrate that services are fulfilling their main purpose
  • demonstrate that a service is providing value for money – whoever is providing the money may want evidence of what impact it is really having.

In the remainder of this activity you’ll consider what a family centre such as Hedgerows might evaluate in terms of its practice.

Task 2

Listen to Tina talking about evaluating services, and note what she says about the need for the centre to demonstrate its effectiveness. As you watch, focus on the different measures they use at Hedgerows to evaluate impact.

Download this video clip.Video player: Tina Price talks about evaluating practice
Skip transcript: Tina Price talks about evaluating practice

Transcript: Tina Price talks about evaluating practice

TINA PRICE
Hedgerows makes a difference for children, young people, and families in lots of different ways. Some are hard to measure, and some are easy to measure. So if we look at footfall or people that are registered with the centre, even though we support 13 estates, on Netherfield, particularly, we know that 100% of our families have registered with us. So we know we've got that contact with them. We can't say that we make a difference to every person in that household, but they are registered with us. They know that we're there if they need us. But our data shows us that we are engaging very well with young people, with people in workless households, and lone parents, so we know from our data that we are engaging with the right people. When it comes to actually measuring our outcomes, we use different tools. So we use family star, which, on an individual basis, will show the growth of an individual, say, when they come in and they may have an issue, we can measure that in a few months time to see if anything has changed and we would actually know. We would have an action plan that would support how that change has come about. In terms of children being school ready, we would use all the planning sessions we have, the earliest foundation stage, and we have measured with local schools, particularly our key local school, that the children that spend more time at Hedgerows score higher at the end of the foundation year. So we use that as evidence to prove that if they come to Hedgerows, if they absorb lots of sessions, as do their parents, they may have some specialist support, they will go on and achieve hopefully better results at school. We have key performance indicators around obesity, so we use different targets to measure how well we're doing for our families in the local area. Also things like has tooth decay gone down, because of all the dentist comes in or all the prevention work we do with families around sugar being quite damaging to children's teeth and sugary drinks. So we can use those and say, actually, we can show part and parcel here that we have made a difference. Signing up children to the two-year-old funding and nursery, we can link the doors that we've knocked as to whether the take-up's improved. So all those things are really important. For us, we like to look at it also on a personal scale. So when a parent comes in and says, actually, you might not have realised, but when I took part in that aerobics session for weeks on end and met lots of women from different cultures and people that I knew that spoke to me in my own language, that got me through postnatal depression, or that made my mental health better. We also have courses. So we will measure how many parents have taken up education for the first time. In this area, we don't have lots of people that have got qualifications from school. So to say they've got level one, level two, we record how many people have gone back to work with our support or with our partners support. I still believe that whoever comes through the door, I like to see people go on to be successful. And I think some people don't start off, you know, exactly what sure start says, with the same chance in life, and for whatever reason, I think our families they come across barriers all the time, they have had difficult childhoods themself. It's about having high expectations. I believe that we can make a real difference. When we're looking in-depth in families now, there's a lot of what I would call emotional poverty. And I think that's the thing that fascinates me at the moment and really keeps me here is that unless we-- it is about well-being. Unless we help people emotionally, it isn't necessarily the practical elements of poverty, even though that's really hard and impacts massively on people, it's their emotional well-being, it's their emotional needs that have never been met that I think that's the specialist work that we do that I think makes a difference. And when I see-- I think of maybe one or two families where I've seen the most amazing journey that they've been on that we couldn't predict in the beginning, and you see happy, safe children and parents that are achieving. We have a duty to these families to make a difference, and believe in them and have high expectations for them, because they have been, you know, not everybody has.
End transcript: Tina Price talks about evaluating practice
Tina Price talks about evaluating practice
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Task 3

Now use Table 2 below to note down the different measures used at Hedgerows to evaluate impact for both adults and children. You should be able to identify at least four areas of evaluation.

Table 2 Impact measures at Hedgerows

What is Hedgerows trying to evaluate?How is Hedgerows measuring this?
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To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
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Words: 0
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Discussion

The completed table below shows some examples, although you may have identified others:

Table 2 Impact measures at Hedgerows (completed)
What is Hedgerows trying to evaluate?How is Hedgerows measuring this?
The impact of the services at Hedgerows on the local community

Numbers using the centre and accessing different sessions

Levels of engagement with ‘priority’ groups

Whether it is helping achieve change with individual familiesUsing an assessment tool (‘Family Star’) and individual action plan
Whether Hedgerows is helping children prepare for the transition to school effectively (school readiness)Data from schools about success at end of foundation year
Whether it is making a difference to children’s health

Health data, including dental decay and obesity measures

Enhanced healthy eating and lifestyle

Whether it is improving the ability of adult family members to secure employmentNumbers securing employment
Whether it is enabling adults to engage with educational opportunitiesNumbers signed up to courses

Tina mentions many different types of measures here including more anecdotal examples of making a difference – such as social networks helping with a mental health issue - which she sees as important in enhancing the wellbeing of the whole family but which are more difficult to demonstrate explicitly.

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