ChildLinks Issue 2: Outcomes Focused Children's Services

Barnardos. (2008). ChildLinks Issue 2: Outcomes Focused Children's Services.
Welcome to the latest edition of ChildLinks on the theme of ‘Outcomes-Focused Children’s Services’. Thinking about children’s services from an outcomes perspective rather than an outputs perspective has radical implications for what kind of services are provided to children and families. All of us working in this area are familiar with reporting requirements and counting how many service users, how many services, how many meetings and so on. These refer to outputs and are the measurement of services or activities. However they don’t actually tell us anything about how effective the service has been in meeting children’s needs. As the first article from Barnardos Service Design Team explains, rather than fitting a child into services, our goal is to provide services that best meet the presenting needs of a child and his or her family. The priority is needs-led and outcomes focused children’s services. Within this issue of ChildLinks, there are contributions from Irish and International practitioners and academics who are forging ahead with this approach. Professor Pat Dolan and his colleagues from NUI Galway make a case for promoting family support as a means of achieving successful child protection outcomes. Young Ballymun demonstrate how they are taking an outcomes focused approach to improving the learning and well-being outcomes for children and young people in Ballymun. The experience of Children’s Trusts in the UK and developments in regard to early years is contained in the article from Christine Davies of the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services. Finally, the use of cost-benefit analysis and evidence-based policy-making is captured in the article about the Washington experience. Research carried out by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found an 8–10% return on investment in Early Childhood Care and Education. President Obama has announced a 10 billion dollar plan for pre-school education in the US. Outcomes-focused children’s services have the capacity not just to achieve better results for children and families, but to achieve value for money from public expenditure. In these days of financial rectitude, outcomes-focused children’s services make sound policy and economic sense.