Evaluation of the Families and Children Expert Panel Project

The goal of the ‘Expert Panel’ project is to help Families and Children (FaC) Activity service providers to use evidence in their practice. Our focus is on supporting service providers to better articulate the evidence underpinning their programs and to build program monitoring and evaluation into their routine. Our ultimate aim is to help service providers to deliver more evidence-informed programs for parents and children, to achieve better outcomes for those parents and children who use their services.

The purpose of this evaluation is to assess whether AIFS’ activities – providing targeted support and resources to service providers – have promoted the growth of evidence-informed practice in the Families and Children Activity sector. We also want to understand whether our work with Communities for Children (CfC) Facilitating Partners has helped those service providers to meet the evidence-based funding requirements.

The evaluation is in two parts. This first part looks at early indicators, from the first half of the six-year project period. The second part, looking at the overall project, will be completed in June 2020.

Interim findings

Building the evaluation capacity of the sector is important. The interim evaluation found evidence of a growing organisational capacity – particularly with CfC Facilitating Partners – to undertake program planning, implementation and evaluation tasks. However, the capacity of service providers across the sector is variable. Some organisations are confident, while others require quite intensive support.   

Building sector capacity takes time and resources. We found that organisations are more likely to develop an evaluation culture if they have support and resources to do so, and that having access to local, affordable support is important. To that end, 81% of responding CfC Facilitating Partners and 63% of responding CfC Community Partners indicated that they were satisfied with the support they’ve received from AIFS.

Limitations

The interim evaluation has three main limitations:

  • This first phase of the evaluation only considers whether there are preliminary indications of change in the sector.
  • The evaluation relies heavily on self-reported survey data, which can limit the accuracy of baseline assessments of skill or knowledge, and obscure the degree to which there has been change.
  • The data focus on CfC Facilitating Partners; data on other service providers are very limited, and conclusions about the remaining FaC sector are tentative.

What we’re doing next

We’re working on a final evaluation of the project, to be completed by June 2020.

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Contact us if you want to know more about the evaluation.

A summary of the interim project evaluation is available on request.

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