Improving Outcomes for Children and Families: Finding and Using International Evidence

Significant amounts of money and resources are spent on child and family services, so successful evaluation of whether or not they are achieving the best outcomes is therefore essential.

This edited collection offers an international perspective on the challenges of designing and undertaking outcome-based evaluation of child and family services. With contributions from leading international experts, it introduces the key ideas and issues currently being debated in the evaluation of these services; discusses relevant approaches to designing and using evaluation methods; and provides examples of evaluation from the real world of policy and practice. Issues covered include setting appropriate indicators for service effectiveness, cross-cultural evaluation of service interventions, service user involvement in evaluation, and evaluations of family and community-based services.

This invaluable book will be essential reading for policy makers, planners, commissioners and managers across child and family welfare services, as well as researchers and other academics in the field.

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About the author

Robyn Munford is Head of the School of Sociology, Social Work and Social Policy at Massey University. She has published widely on social and community work and disability studies, and her research on families has gained international recognition.

Professor Nina Biehal is Research Director at the Social Policy Research Unit of the University of York. She is leads work on vulnerable children, children in care and young people. Previously a social worker, Nina has been involved in child welfare research for many years. Her research interests focus particularly on social work with older children and adolescents. She has published widely on leaving care, runaways from care, family support and missing persons.

Wendy Rose is Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the Open University, UK, and works on national and international child welfare research and development projects. She was previously a senior civil servant advising the government on children's policy.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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Published on
Mar 15, 2011
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780857002488
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Social Services & Welfare
Social Science / Research
Social Science / Social Work
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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As child and family interventions assume greater international application, it will be helpful to examine the various ways in which service innovations are being evaluated. As demonstrated in the seminar from which these chapters resulted, only by sharing our specific professional interests, our too frequent problems in measurement, our despair in implementing complicated studies, and our successes can we advance the evaluation of human services and their outcomes. This volume considers a variety of programs and issues in the field of child and family services. While different perspectives are evident among the authors in terms of their focus and/or emphasis, there is common concern about the value of examining each program or service so as to maximize its impact as well as its potential for dissemination. Intervention research should spur and motivate cross-national efforts not only among researchers but also among social workers and other practitioners from diverse professions engaged in the delivery of human services. Such collaboration would contribute to the ultimate goals of achieving greater clarity about the specifics of "best practices" in child and family services, protocols for assessing outcomes, and ways of improving service delivery. How then can researchers and policymakers in diverse settings within diverse countries improve practice and service delivery on behalf of children and families? What particular program findings can be generalized to improve services? How can we share and implement new solutions? The contributions to this volume address such questions from varying international perspectives. Contributors provide answers and generate discussion points for consideration by practitioners as well as researchers. The book is a must for social work parishioners in areas involving the delivery of goods as well as services. Tiziano Vecchiato is scientific director of the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy. Anthony N. Maluccio is professor of social work at Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Cinzia Canali is research associate at the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.
In this collective portrait, editors and authors do not attempt to draw systematic, country-by-country comparisons. Given the magnitude of the issues, they believed that it would be inappropriate to paint with too broad a stroke. What they have accomplished, however, is to codify and identify what the participants repeatedly noted in regard to issues and difficulties inherent in conducting outcome evaluation. These include: varying definitions of outcome; complexities in measuring outcomes of particular interventions with different groups of consumers and documenting the effectiveness of the intervention; the tendency to focus on evaluation of process more than outcome; the challenge of involving practitioners in the evaluation task, in part because its value is unclear to them or perceived as distant or untrustworthy; the typical inadequacy of resources available for systematic evaluation; and the need to inject rigor into the design and execution of evaluation projects. The authors demonstrate strong conviction about sharing research expertise across national boundaries; learning through each other how to cope with organizational impediments to cross-national collaboration; and strengthening the interaction between practice and research. Their contributions suggest that there is wide interest in pursuing cross-national collaboration. In recent years, largely in response to demands by their funding sources for accountability, assessment of performance, and cost effectiveness, researchers in human services have been devoting increased attention to outcome evaluation. Limited attention, however, has been given to the findings of evaluation studies conducted in different countries. The present volume has been organized and edited to address the task of learning from outcome research across the world. Its goal, an extension of a major goal of the human services in any one country, is to improve life chances of vulnerable children and youth. Anthony N. Maluccio is professor of social work at Boston College, Graduate School of Social Work, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Cinzia Canali is research associate at the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy. Tiziano Vecchiato is scientific director of the Fondazione Emanuela Zancan, Padua, Italy.
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