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Evaluation of the Domestic Abuse Service Development Fund 2000-2002 - Research Findings

DescriptionThe research describes the types of domestic abuse work that are funded by the DASDF and the perceived impact of such work on service providers and service users.
ISBN
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 17, 2003

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    No.73/2003
    Research Findings
    Crime and Criminal Justice Research Programme

    Evaluation of the Domestic Abuse Service Development Fund 2000-2002

    Sheila Reid, Reid-Howie Associates

    This document is also available in pdf format (107k)

    The Domestic Abuse Service Development Fund was established in 1999 to provide financial support to local work focusing on: prevention of domestic abuse; protection of those who experienced domestic abuse; and provision of services to meet their requirements. It was envisaged that this would take forward the National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland. An evaluation was undertaken of the first period of funding, from 2000-2002.
    Main Findings
    • The Fund provided support to a large number of projects across Scotland. Work was carried out in all but one local authority area by 59 projects.
    • 22 (37%) of the projects undertook strategic planning and co-ordination work.
    • 32 (54%) of the projects undertook public awareness raising (in the community or schools).
    • 33 (56%) of the projects undertook staff or volunteer training and awareness work.
    • 34 (58%) of the projects developed new or extended service provision.
    • 31 (55%) of the projects identified that they had carried out work with specific groups of women or children.
    • Overall perceptions were very positive. A high proportion of respondents believed that work of each type had been successful (97% of those undertaking public awareness raising; 97% of those providing new or extended services; 94% of those undertaking staff or volunteer training and awareness and 73% of those undertaking strategic planning and co-ordination work).
    • The projects were found to have had a positive impact upon: providers' awareness and understanding of domestic abuse; multi-agency working and co-ordination; policy development; services and resources; the quality of provision to service users; help-seeking and public awareness of domestic abuse and services available.
    • There was a clear and repeated message that the Fund had been essential to the promotion of the National Strategy and the Fund provided good value for money overall. The benefits of the provision of specific resources to address domestic abuse included: the development of new work; the impact of the work; the priority of and commitment to domestic abuse; and the flexibility of the provision.
    • There was a widely shared view that funding for work to address domestic abuse should continue in some form.
    • Although a number of problems and constraints were identified with the work carried out and with the Fund, these can be used to inform the future development of work to address domestic abuse in Scotland.
    Introduction

    This study was commissioned to evaluate the Domestic Abuse Service Development Fund from 2000-2002. It was recognised that it was important to evaluate the early operation of the Fund, in order to inform decisions about future provision.

    The Fund was established in 1999, following the early work of the Scottish Partnership on Domestic Abuse, which suggested the need to tackle domestic abuse through the 'three p's': prevention; protection and provision. A total of 3million was made available to provide financial support to local work to take forward the National Strategy to Address Domestic Abuse in Scotland.

    Methodology

    The key aims of this study were to consider:

    • The work which had been carried out through funded projects, and the impact of this.
    • The "success" of projects, and suggested improvements.
    • The sustainability of projects.
    • The key benefits of the projects to those involved.
    • Perceptions of gaps in provision and problems in addressing domestic abuse.
    • "Lessons learned" which can assist in the development of work in the future.

    In order to explore these issues, the evaluation involved a number of strands, as follows:

    • Examination of documentary material.
    • Circulation of a postal questionnaire to all projects funded during 2000-2002, and preparation of a database of information about these projects.
    • Case studies of 12 projects; 3 from each of the following categories: strategic planning and co-ordination; public awareness raising; staff or volunteer training and awareness; new or extended service provision.
    • Discussions with members of the National Group.

    This information provided an overview of the perceived impact of the Fund on service providers and service users.

    The projects

    The evaluation identified that work was carried out in 31 local authority areas in Scotland by 59 projects. Almost three quarters of the respondent projects (73%) employed new staff, and 11 increased the hours of existing staff. Most areas had a multi-agency partnership (86%) and this oversaw the project in 80% of cases.

    Four main types of work were identified. 22 (37%) of the projects undertook strategic planning and co-ordination work, involving work such as: production of a strategy / action plan; overall co-ordination; work with individual services and the completion of research. 32 (54%) undertook public awareness raising involving preventive work with young people in schools and work with the wider community. 33 (56%) undertook staff or volunteer training and awareness work involving multi and single agency formal and informal training covering basic awareness and more subject-specific provision. 34 (58%) developed new or extended service provision, involving: support to women; outreach; support to children / young people; refuge workers and other types of provision. Many projects undertook work in a number of different categories. A total of 31 projects (55%) identified that they had carried out work with specific groups of women or children.

    While there were many common strands amongst the projects, there were also found to be variations in the nature of work and operation of the projects. The definitions of a local "project" also varied as did the size of the funding, reflecting the pattern of application, with some areas receiving over 150,000 over the two years, while others received under 40,000.

    The impact of the Fund

    Overall perceptions of the work were very positive. A high proportion of respondents believed that work in each category had been successful. Most of the anticipated work appeared to have been carried out and it was found to have had a considerable impact on the development of services, the approach of service providers and the experiences of service users.

    Projects were found to have had a positive impact upon: service providers' awareness and understanding of domestic abuse and the identification of staff needs; multi-agency working and co-ordination, networking and communication; policy development; the level of services and resources; the quality of provision to service users and users' experiences; help-seeking and public awareness of domestic abuse and services available. Although it was noted that not all of the projects would have had the same level of impact, and not all of the experiences were wholly positive, the Fund clearly represented a positive step in addressing domestic abuse in Scotland and raising the profile of such work.

    There was a clear and repeated message that the Fund had been essential to the promotion of the National Strategy. The Fund provided good value for money overall, and the existence of specific resources clearly had a number of benefits. There was a widely shared view that the funding should continue in some form.

    Problems / constraints

    As well as positive perceptions, however, some problems with projects were identified, with issues such as: their structure and organisation; the involvement of other organisations; the nature of the work; time and resources and the national context.

    Some problems were also experienced with the Fund itself, such as: variations in definition of "projects"; the level of need and limited availability of resources; the time limited nature of the funding; the continuing reliance of many projects on DASDF; variations in the practice of partnerships; difficulties in match funding; issues relating to administration; the nature and clarity of the funding criteria; lack of monitoring / evaluation and limited links between local and national developments.

    From all of these experiences, the report identified a number of "lessons learned" and recommended that:

    • Work should continue to develop in local areas in each of the categories. The information provided in the report, including the lessons learned, should be used to inform the development of such work according to good practice.
    • Good practice guidance should be developed and disseminated by the Scottish Executive / National Group in relation to all aspects of domestic abuse work.
    • The Domestic Abuse Service Development Fund should continue to fund work by projects undertaking relevant work from 2004-2006, with priority given to projects currently funded which can demonstrate their effectiveness and the continuing need for provision.
    • It should be made clear to projects which apply for funding that this is the last period of provision in this form, and that the approach adopted thereafter will be based on a more strategic approach to disbursement.
    • The Scottish Executive should consider the funding criteria and process in the light of the findings of the report, amend these as required and inform all projects as early as possible of the provision which will be made.
    • The National Group should co-opt a member with funding expertise and should establish a small group to develop a National Funding Strategy.
    • The National Group should identify a minimum acceptable level of provision in each area to guide the development of work.
    • Each local area should be asked to develop, by 2005, a summary of the provision in their area.
    • From March 2006, the resources currently provided through DASDF should be directed to addressing the local gaps in provision between the recommended minimum level of service and the existing provision in the areas, as identified in the local summaries.
    • Central support should be provided by the Scottish Executive to partnerships / areas across Scotland to develop their capacity, strategic approach and provision.
    • Information should be gathered and circulated regularly, with details of work undertaken, relevant developments in the work of the National Group and forthcoming key dates in the funding process.
    • The Scottish Executive should consider other ways in which the development of domestic abuse work can be facilitated.

    The report concludes that the main message from the evaluation is the continuing need to support work to address domestic abuse with appropriate funding.

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