Outcome measurement

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See more resources on Outcome measurement in the AIFS library catalogue

Measuring child developmental outcomes: approaches and methods.

Watson J, Zhou A, Hopkins J, Paxman M, Butler M and Burke S
Ashfield, NSW : NSW Dept. of Communities and Justice, 2020.
This is a technical report for the Pathways of Care Longitudinal Study (POCLS) in New South Wales. It aims to provide researchers using the POCLS data with some guidelines on the use of methods and approaches in their analysis, interpretation and reporting of children's developmental outcomes. It also summarises some of the advantages of the age standardised measures being used to maximise measurement equivalence over time, sets out the rationale for the selection of the POCLS standardised measures subset, and discusses determining cut-offs to define levels of developmental status.

Developing and selecting measures of child well-being

White H and Sabarwal S
Florence, Italy : UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, 2014.
This paper provides an introduction into developing and selecting measures of child well-being, as part of a series on data collection and analysis methods in program evaluation. Sections include: Indicators: a brief description; How to select or develop indicators; How to collect indicators on child well-being; Ethical issues and practical limitations; How to use indicators in impact evaluation; and Example indicators used in UNICEF studies.

Child well-being in economically rich countries: changes in the first decade of the 21st century

Martorano B, Neubourg C, Natali L and Bradshaw J
Florence, Italy : UNICEF Office of Research, 2013.
This paper looks at recent trends in child well-being in economically rich countries in Europe and North America. It compares statistics on material well-being, health, education, and behaviour and risks from Innocenti reports cards from years in the early and late 2000s.

Children's subjective well-being in rich countries

Bradshaw J, Martorano B, Natali L and Neubourg C
Florence, Italy : UNICEF Office of Research, 2013.
Though child well-being has been traditionally assessed through measures of financial poverty or deprivation, many studies are now including the subjective opinions of children on their own well-being. However, while there is a relationship between these two measures, it is not necessarily a direct and unidirectional one. This paper explores subjective well-being in more detail. It looks at the concept and the analysis of subjective well-being, changes in subjective well-being during the last decade, the factors that explain the variations in subjective well-being, the Relationship between subjective and objective domains, and The relationship between subjective well-being and structural factors. This paper is based on research from Innocenti report card 11, 'Child well-being in rich countries: a comparative overview', and includes data on well-being in European and North American nations.

Child well-being in advanced economies in the late 2000s

Martorano B, Natali L, Neubourg C and Bradshaw J
Florence, Italy : UNICEF Office of Research, 2013.
This paper compares the well-being of children in economically advanced countries. Using information from different sources for 21 OECD countries, child well-being was measured on six dimensions: 1) material well-being, 2) education well-being, 3) health and safety, 4) family and peer relationships, 5) behaviours and risks, and 6) subjective well-being. This includes individual measures of monetary and material deprivation, child mortality and health at birth, preventive health services, educational achievement, experience of violence, risk taking, overcrowding and housing, and participation. Most of the countries are also ranked within the Child Well-being Index. Australia, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Japan and New Zealand are excluded from that index due to insufficient data. This paper is one of the three background papers written as the basis for Innocenti Report Card 11, 'Child Well-being in Rich Countries: A comparative overview.'

National outcome measures for early childhood development: development of an indicator-based reporting framework

Petrie M, Eldridge D and Quee M
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2011.
The early years of a child's life lay the foundation for future health, development, learning and wellbeing. This report describes the development an indicator-based reporting framework for early childhood development, and establishes a recommended high-level set of indicators to measure progress against the National Early Childhood Development Strategy 'Investing in the Early Years Outcomes Framework'. It reviews existing reporting frameworks and headline indicators, reviews the literature on key aspects of early child development, and identifies domains and indicators in the areas of health, development, and well being.

Developing a wellbeing outcome measure for use in economic evaluations of children's services: identifying domains important to children and young people : report summary

Holder J, Beecham J and Knapp E
London : Childhood Wellbeing Research Centre, 2011.
"Measurement of children and young people's wellbeing has developed considerably in recent years. However, there remains a need for an instrument that can be used as a generic measure of outcomes for use in evaluating children's services. The proposed preference based outcome measure would fill this gap. There has been increasing acceptance of the desirability and utility of measuring users' perceptions, experiences and views to support service evaluation and planning in both adult social care and children's services. The research reported here is a first step towards the development of a potential new tool that would be useful for research and particularly in economic evaluations of children's services and interventions."

Review of the child material deprivation items in the family resources survey

McKay S
Sheffield, UK : Dept. for Work and Pensions, 2011.
Material deprivation indicators have often been recommended as a rigorous scientific approach to the measurement of poverty. In 2004/05 the Family Resources Survey (FRS) was amended to include questions relating to material deprivation, and these have formed part of the annual reports monitoring progress to reduce and, in time, eradicate child poverty. This report provides evidence on which items (material goods, activities, access to services) are now regarded as essential in the UK. It draws on this evidence to propose changes to the overall set of indicators used to measure child poverty.

Family social network: development of a Children's Headline Indicator : information paper

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2010.
"A strong family social network provides access to support and resources, and is linked to better outcomes for children's health, development and wellbeing. This report describes the process of developing a Children's Headline Indicator designed to measure the quality of families' social interactions. It presents research evidence on the importance of the quality of family social networks for children's outcomes, assesses potential indicators and data sources, and recommends an indicator based on the ability of a family to get help when needed."

Developing an index of children's subjective well-being in England

Rees G, Goswami H and Bradshaw J
London : The Children's Society, 2010.
This report presents a new index of children's subjective well-being. The index consists of a five-item measure of overall well-being and ten single-item measures of happiness with different aspects of life. These measures have been derived from consultation with young people, previous research on child well-being, and statistical analysis of two surveys conducted in England in 2008 and 2010 respectively. The report describes issues in measuring children's well being, the development of the index, potential uses of the index, and areas for future research and development.

Complexities of assessing social and emotional competence and wellbeing in young children.

Barblett L and Maloney C
Australasian Journal of Early Childhood v. 35 no. 2 Jun 2010: 13-18
Developing positive social and emotional growth and development in young children has always been a fundamental priority of early childhood practitioners. However, with an increasing economic and political focus on the foundational early childhood years, there has been a global push for the measurement of outcomes in early childhood education. This paper reports the findings of a major literature review to examine the assessment of social and emotional competence and wellbeing in young children. The review was conducted by a team at Edith Cowan University as part of project funded by the Western Australian Department of Education and Training. It describes a number of issues dominating the early childhood literature about assessment and reports on the complexities of examining a domain that is socially and culturally constructed and where meaning belongs to the individual rather than to the person assessing the individual's behaviours.

The development and validation of Australian indices of child development - part II: validity support.

Sanson A, Misson S, Hawkins M and Berthelsen D
Child Indicators Research v. 3 no. 3 Jul 2010: 293-312
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is a major study on child development, following two cohorts of 5,000 children each: infants aged 3-9 months at the beginning of the study and preschool children aged 4-5 years. A previous article described the development of outcome indices for the study, which feature 16 measures over three domains: health and physical development, social and emotional functioning, and learning competency. This article presents evidence from Wave 1 of the study to support the validity of the indices.

The development and validation of Australian indices of child development - part I: conceptualisation and development.

Sanson A, Misson S, Hawkins M and Berthelsen D
Child Indicators Research v. 3 no. 3 Jul 2010: 275-292
The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is a major study on child development, following two cohorts of 5,000 children each: infants aged 3-9 months at the beginning of the study and preschool children aged 4-5 years. This article describes the development of outcome indices for the study, which feature 16 measures over three domains: health and physical development, social and emotional functioning, and learning competency.

Can government measure family wellbeing?: a literature review

Wollny I, Apps J and Henricson C
London : Family & Parenting Institute, 2010.
"Interest in 'wellbeing' in the UK has tended to focus on the welfare of children, or wellbeing at an individual, adult level, rather than on family wellbeing. But with growing acknowledgement of the importance of the family to outcomes for both children and adults there is increasing interest in finding ways of developing a comprehensive, widely-accepted conceptual framework for measuring family wellbeing ... Based on a wide-ranging examination of international research and other literature, this review analyses current definitions, theoretical models, and measurement tools and examines quality issues such as validity and transferability, as well as the conceptual and practical measurement challenges posed by the study of family wellbeing. It considers whether existing datasets and surveys could be used for measuring family wellbeing and proposes future directions for family wellbeing research in the UK. It also includes comprehensive appendices that detail the many concepts and measures that have been identified in the literature."

Stronger Families in Australia study : the impact of Communities for Children : Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 2004-2009

Edwards B, Wise S, Gray M, Hayes A, Katz I, Misson S, Patulny R and Muir K
Canberra : Dept. of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, 2009.
This report examines the impact of the Communities for Children (CfC) program on child, family, and community outcomes. This study was conducted as part of the 2004-2008 evaluation of the Federal Government's 'Stronger Families and Communities Strategy 2004-2009'. The CfC program funded non-government organisations serving 45 disadvantaged communities in Australia, to develop and implement a whole-of-community approach to enhancing early childhood development. Four priority outcomes were measured: healthy young families; supporting families and parents; early learning and care; and child-friendly communities. The analysis included a longitudinal study of 2,202 families. Positive impacts include fewer children living in a jobless household, parents reporting less hostile or harsh parenting practices, and parents feeling more effective. Positive impacts were also found for hard-to-reach groups. Some negative findings were reported for the health outcomes of hard-to-reach, low education and low income groups. These results suggest that the CfC model makes an important contribution to the wellbeing of disadvantaged children.

A guide to measuring children's well-being: backing the future - practical guide 2

Thompson S and Aked J
London : New Economics Foundation, 2009.
"This guide is a supplement to a larger report, 'Backing the Future: why investing in children is good for us all'. This guide explains how we can accurately measure well-being in children and young people. It looks specifically at the scope of subjective indicators (e.g., life satisfaction, optimism about the future) to complement objective indicators of well-being (e.g., child obesity, numeracy and literacy, household income) in informing us about how children experience their lives - from their own perspectives. It covers some of the practical approaches to measuring child well-being that have been implemented and it discusses some of the considerations that need to be made when designing a well-being measurement tool for children, which includes subjective indicators."

Improving indicators of child well-being

Stagner M, Goerge R and Ballard P
Chicago : Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, 2009.
"This report makes a number of recommendations on new directions for the development of child well-being indicators. For developmental transitions throughout early childhood, the authors call for standardizing birth records across states, collecting additional data at immunization visits, and creating common assessments at kindergarten entry. For the transition from youth to adulthood, the report emphasizes opportunities for linking secondary school information systems to postsecondary and employment data systems. Other recommendations include outcome-based measures for childcare, a poverty measure that fully accounts for government support, and consistent collection of child citizenship and family immigration status on federal surveys. The report follows a symposium on child well-being indicators held in December 2008, attended by leading experts from universities, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations."--Publisher abstract.

Doing better for children

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Paris : OECD, 2009.
This book compares child well-being and child welfare policies across the OECD nations, including Australia. Topics include the OCED child well-being indicators, social spending across the child's life cycle, the effect of single parent families, timing of exposure to family structure, intergenerational mobility and inequality, prenatal care, child migrants, parental leave, parental time investment, and policy recommendations. Statistics include infant mortality, child poverty rates, income, overcrowding, educational achievement, breastfeeding rates, physical activity, youth suicide, adolescent births, bullying, enrolment rates in child care, education spending, financial support, intergenerational earnings, family structure, and correlations between child well-being indicators. The book also discusses the multi-dimensional measures of child well-being and why the specific indicators have been selected, which fall into domains concerning material well-being, housing and environment, education, health, risk behaviours, and quality of school life.

Local index of child well-being: summary report

Bradshaw J
London : Communities and Local Government, 2009.
"The CWI (Child Well-being Index) is based on the approach, structure and methodology that were used in the construction of the ID (Indices of Deprivation) 2007. The seven domains included in the CWI are: Material well-being; Health; Education; Crime; Housing; Environment; Children in need. This summary report outlines the components of the CWI and explains the difficulties introduced as a result of data availability."

Child social exclusion: an updated index from the 2006 Census.

McNamara J, Harding A, Daly A and Tanton R
10 July 2008
The development of regional measures of child social exclusion for Australia are underpinned by increasing research and policy interest in indicators of child wellbeing, multidimensional measures of poverty, and spatial differences in disadvantage. The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling at the University of Canberra has developed a small area index of child social exclusion, a concept which encompasses multiple dimensions of poverty, and the cumulative nature of many aspects of disadvantage. This paper describes a recently updated version of the index, based on new data from the 2006 ABS Census of Population and Housing. Variables incorporated in the index include family type, education level and employment status of the child's parents, housing tenure and household income. This paper presents results displaying the regional distribution of child social exclusion risk in 2006, and analyses the characteristics of those areas (both urban and rural) which experience both the most and the least risk of child social exclusion.

Modernity's paradox and the structural determinants of child health and well-being.

Li J, McMurray A and Stanley F
Health sociology review v. 17 no. 1 Jun 2008 : 64-77
The decline in indicators of human development linked to rising social inequalities, despite post-modern society's unprecedented economic prosperity, has been called 'modernity's paradox'. Scholars of developmental health suggest that micro-level influences from the social, economic and psychological circumstances in early life may explain social inequalities across the lifespan. However, children's poor developmental and health outcomes are also a product of the wider contexts of their lives. This article extends the human developmental framework by linking the proximal determinants of health and well-being with macro-level forces. It reviews recent changes in the political, economic and social environments in developed countries, to provide insights into the recent trends in poor outcomes in children and youth, which remain paradoxical given the expectations of economic prosperity and the advances in medical and other technologies. The article concludes with policy and research recommendations to reduce social disparities in child outcomes.

Towards New Indicators of Disadvantage Project. Bulletin no.4. Social exclusion and children.

Saunders P and Naidoo Y
SPRC Newsletter no. 98 Mar 2008 7-10
In 2006, two surveys were conducted in the Left Out and Missing Out: Towards New Indicators of Disadvantage project. The first was a national postal survey of randomly selected Australians (the community sample), and the second targeted those who had used selected welfare services (the client sample). The resultant nationwide data are being used to identify who is deprived and excluded from the benefits associated with Australia's current period of economic growth and rising incomes. The focus of this bulletin is social exclusion among Australian children. The project has developed 27 indicators of social exclusion among the general population. Two of those directly applicable to children, plus seven other indicators have been selected as most likely to have the greatest impact on children. The nine indicators of social exclusion among children are: no week's holiday away from home each year; children who do not participate in school activities and outings; no hobby or leisure activity for children; no medical treatment if needed; no access to a local doctor or hospital; no access to a bulk billing doctor; does not have $500 in emergency savings; could not raise $2,000 in a week in an emergency; lives in a jobless household. The bulletin applies the nine indicators to the project's community and client samples with dependent children. It presents the findings, discussing the incidence of exclusion, multiple exclusion and the implications of the findings.

'What counts? Defining, exploring and measuring family wellbeing': overview, outcomes and next steps : National Family Wellbeing Symposium : 20-21 June 2007.

Babington B, Harrison E and Strazdins L
Barton, ACT : Families Australia, 2007
One aim of the National Family Wellbeing Symposium, held in Canberra in June 2007, was to explore the meaning and relevance of the increasingly used term 'family wellbeing'. The Symposium also explored options for developing a tool for monitoring and reporting on how well families and their members are faring and identifying what further support they need. The outcomes of the Symposium were: the decision that developing a family wellbeing framework could enhance national family research and policy; that work on developing such a framework should begin as soon as possible; that indicators of wellbeing will need to be inclusive and that the involvement of families in the development phase is crucial; and that a working group representing key stakeholders should be formed to develop a first working iteration of the framework. This paper details the Symposium's achievements.

Child outcomes and family socio-economic characteristics: final report of the project : LSAC outcomes and the family environment

Bradbury B
Sydney : Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, 2007.
Using data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), this report assesses research funded by the Commonwealth Department of Families, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to investigate which measures of family economic resources are most relevant to outcomes for children. Most studies of child poverty in rich nations have used income as their indicator of economic disadvantage. Focusing on children aged 4 to 5 years, this report tests the salience of a number of different measures according to the extent to which they are correlated with child learning and social and emotional outcomes.

Socio-economic indexes for individuals and families

Baker J and Adhikari P
Canberra : Australian Bureau of Statistics, c2007.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics' Socio Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA), based on the Census of Population and Housing, are measures of relative socioeconomic status at a small area level. They identify and rank the relative disadvantage of areas and provide contextual information about the areas. However, any given area will contain individuals and sub populations with characteristics very different from the overall population of the area. Using Western Australian census data, this paper explores the possibility of using socioeconomic indexes at the individual and family level, using the same conceptual and methodological basis as SEIFA. The analysis shows that a feasible index of disadvantage for individuals and families can be created, and that there is considerable potential for misclassification error when SEIFA is used as a proxy for the socioeconomic status of smaller groups within an area.

Dropping off the edge : the distribution of disadvantage in Australia

Vinson T, Rawsthorne M and Cooper B
Richmond, Vic. : Jesuit Social Services ; Curtin, ACT : Catholic Social Services Australia, 2007.
This report presents the findings of a national study that analysed social indicators in a number of urban and rural localities, producing a map of relative disadvantage. The indicators measured social distress, health, community safety, economic variables, education variables, and community engagement. The report profiles the characteristics of disadvantage in each state, the correlations that occur, and the impact of social cohesion. There is no set of variables that appear in all heavily disadvantaged areas, but some were identified as significant variables that correlated with many others and entrenched the disadvantage: low family income, low work skills, early school leaving, post schooling qualifications, limited computer use, limited internet access, year 12 incomplete, unemployment, and long-term unemployment. It is hoped this data will improve policy decisions to combat the risk factors of disadvantage.

Conceptual frameworks for a family indicator monitoring system.

Lippman L, Moore K, Guzman L and Bronte J
National Family Wellbeing Symposium, June 2007. Barton, ACT : Families Australia, 2007: 18p
The following conceptual frameworks for developing family wellbeing indicators are explored: family strengths approach; healthy couples; positive parent child relationships; father involvement; child, family and community connections; and child and adolescent outcomes. The presentation also explores measurement issues with strengths based indicators.

Indicators of children's well-being : understanding their role, usage and policy influence

Ben-Aryeh A and Goerge R
Dordrecht, The Netherlands : Springer, c2006.

Headline indicators for children's health, development and wellbeing

Victoria. Dept. of Human Services, Australian Health Ministers' Conference, Community and Disability Services Ministers' Conference.
Melbourne, Vic. : Statewide Outcomes for Children, Office for Children, 2006.
In 2005 Australian Health Ministers' Conference (AHMC) and the Community and Disability Services Ministers' Conference (CDSMC) approved a project to develop a set of national, jurisdictionally agreed Headline Indicators. The indicators are designed to focus the policy attention of governments on a set of priority issues for children's health, development and wellbeing through comparison of State and Territory data, and data from sub-populations of children including: children with a disability, children from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, children living in disadvantage, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. They are a mechanism to assist policy and planning by measuring progress on a set of indicators that are potentially amenable to change over time by prevention or early intervention. This report outlines the process that was undertaken to develop the Headline Indicators. A set of 19 priority areas were identified as Headline Indicators in the health, development and wellbeing of children in the age range of 0-12 years of age.

Children at risk of social exclusion: methodology and overview.

Tanton R
Canberra, ACT: National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, University of Canberra, 2006, 15p, tables, maps (NATSEM Conference paper CP0605), Online (PDF 750K)
This paper reports on recent work conducted by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) on an area index measuring Australian children who are at risk of being in social exclusion, done at a regional level (Statistical Local Area). Social exclusion is taken to mean that the child's family suffers a number of aspects of disadvantage. Being at risk of social exclusion does not mean the child suffers social exclusion; it means children in the SLA have a higher risk of being in social exclusion. The method used to summarise a number of social exclusion variables is principal components analysis. This is a method used for a number of summary measures of disadvantage, such as the ABS SEIFA index (ABS 2003) and the NZ Indexes of deprivation (Salmond and Crampton 2002). Children are split into two groups, those aged 0 - 4 and those aged 5 - 15, because it is thought different factors may affect each of these groups. An index was then created for the risk of social exclusion. The authors expected these indexes to be quite similar to the ABS SEIFA indexes. A focus of interest is the ways in which they diverge from the SEIFA indexes - that is, where these indexes provide different information, due to the fact that they are for children only. This divergence is investigated in the paper, which found that the indexes are significantly correlated with the ABS SEIFA indexes. The ABS SEIFA indexes use similar variables to the SEIFA indexes but are calculated for all persons, not just children, and are calculated for Collection Districts and aggregated to SLAs. This high correlation does suggest that many high risk areas for children in social exclusion are also disadvantaged areas. Despite the high correlation, the authors found that the Child social exclusion index was different enough from the SEIFA indexes to provide additional information on child social exclusion.
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