Evidence-based decision making was a theme running throughout the Children and Young People Now conference on early help, with directors of children’s services, academics and practitioners all highlighting the importance of identifying and implementing “what works?” in early intervention.
Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, took this question one step further, asking us to consider “What works? For whom? In what circumstances?”. In this set of questions she succinctly summarised another common thread across the presentations, the importance of context and implementation practices when applying evidenced-based interventions.
Whilst the evidence-base can help local authorities identify which interventions are most likely to be successful in supporting young people, Louise Morpeth, Chief Executive of the Dartington Social Research Unit, explained that the evidence also tells us that it is not as simple as picking these interventions up and dropping them into your local authority. The right conditions for success are also required. This could be training for practitioners, structures that monitor implementation practices and the creation of a culture that supports and embraces change.
The relationship-based approach
The importance of organisational culture, vision, mission and values was also highlighted by Dave Hill, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and Executive Director for People in Essex. He shared the conditions for success that had been implemented in Essex to support early help, with a vision for a “relationship-based approach” to service delivery across the organisation being a core component. Hill also described the need to consider a whole service approach, and ensure that investment is not solely focused on universal and intensive services (either ends of the “windscreen of need”).
Allocating resource where it’s needed
The targeting of services was also discussed by many of the speakers. Louise Morpeth illustrated this best with a representation of need. Using one circle to signify the population of young people that need services within a local authority and another to represent the population receiving services, Louise highlighted that in all seven of the local authorities that they worked with there was only a small area of overlap between the circles. This indicates a high level of unmet needs. This doesn’t mean the resource in the delivery circle is not delivering value, it may be preventing the size of the “circle of need” increasing, but it does pose interesting questions on how best to allocate resource.
How services can be targeted by identifying risk factors
Many speakers referred to pointers within the evidence-base to aid the targeting of services, with the research identifying risk factors that can make a child more vulnerable to specific negative outcomes.
With information about the attendance, attainment, special educational needs, support services, early years engagement, exclusions and interactions with youth services of children from across your local authority (as well as Social Care data if you’re a One Social Care customer), Capita One is a valuable tool in both identifying need and analysing the impact of interventions. Recent developments in One Analytics and One Predict and Prevent means that it’s never been easier to analyse your data in this way. In addition we are working closely with organisations such as the Early Intervention Foundation to further improve how our products can support early help initiatives.
If this is an area of interest to you please do not hesitate to get in touch with your account manager to arrange a demonstration or contact the One team for more information.