Outcomes for children and their families
‘Outcomes for Children and Their Families’, is the report by the Standards and Performance Reporting Working Group of the Progressing Disability Services for Children and Young People programme.
The working group comprised frontline staff in children’s services, a parent and representatives of the Department of Health, the HSE and umbrella disability organisations. We were asked to develop a performance reporting and accountability system for children’s disability teams, which is focused on outcomes for children with disabilities and their families. This required us to examine in depth the very reasons for providing services for children with disabilities.
What is our vision for children and young people with disabilities in Ireland and their families? Is the vision of service providers the same as the vision of children and young people themselves and their families? People with disabilities tell us that what they want is to take a full part in everyday life with family and friends, to feel a sense of belonging, to have relationships and make decisions for themselves, all of which are of course universal desires. This vision then should be the purpose underpinning all service activities from the beginning of service involvement with families and their children and should also guide day–to–day decision–making and planning about interventions and supports.
Up to now the system of accounting for public money and reporting on services for children with a disability has been output based, which means it measures what has been done for the child, for example the number of sessions they had with a speech and language therapist. The new Outcome Focused Framework aims to measure what changes the child and his family have achieved as a result of the services and supports we provide, in other words the added value. So using the same example, if a desired outcome for a child is that she has friends as she chooses, we will measure amongst other things her development of communication skills through speech and language therapy intervention, which contribute to her ability to form friendships. This may seem a rather subtle change but it shifts the focus from the immediate supply of services to the steps towards achievement of the long-term goal.
The Framework sets out 11 outcome statements for the child, young person and family. Interventions and supports should be focused to contribute to these outcomes.
Services should support children and young people to achieve the following outcomes:
- Children and young people have a voice in matters which affect them and their views will be given due weight in accordance with their age and maturity
- Children and young people enjoy the best possible health
- Children and young people are safe
- Children and young people have friends and get on well with other people in their lives
- Children and young people learn skills to help them to be independent
- Children and young people take part in home life, school life and community life
While recognising the lived experience of families, disability services should aim to support families to achieve the following outcomes:
- Families understand their child or young person’s needs, what they are able to do well and what they find difficult as they are growing up
- Families look after, take care of and support their child or young person
- Families are supported to ensure that their rights and the rights of their child or young person are respected
- Families take part in community services and supports
- Families feel supported by family, friends and neighbours in their local community
This Framework is the culmination of an extensive national consultation process with children, young people, families and team members providing multi-disciplinary services and supports and a review of the international literature. We also had positive feedback from internationally regarded researchers in the area.
The Working Group experienced a steep learning curve during eighteen months developing the Framework, which has led to our understanding of the deep changes involved for staff and for families in the way they view the purpose of services. From the earliest days they will be identifying what is most important for child and family, and planning how to work together towards the best possible long term outcomes.
All the work under the Progressing Disability Services for Children & Young People programme is linked together by the overall aims and objectives. This report develops the vision of effective teams working in partnership with parents to achieve best possible outcomes for children. The working group has devised an outcome based system that will drive the reform, to make future children’s disability services more effective, accountable and equally accessible to all children.
Read the full report‘Outcomes for Children and Their Families’