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Evaluation of Intensive Family Support Projects in Scotland

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Annex 2 - Methodology for Service User Interviews

A2.1 Collecting data from service users

Project staff were asked to discuss the research with families referred to them for support, and to seek family members' consent to participate in the study by allowing access to personal records and/or agreeing to be interviewed. Similarly, Aberdeen and Dundee staff helped the researchers by seeking consent to be involved in the research on the part of any families having their cases closed during the research. It was then a matter of contacting and arranging interviews with those agreeing to be involved.

Dundee's experience as detailed below indicates the relatively limited extent of 'attrition' involved in the process of seeking to obtain service user interviews:

Of approximately 25 approaches made to families in the Phase 1 fieldwork, 18 agreed to be interviewed, both of these figures providing around half of the total for the entire sample. Nine of these were interviewed in Phase 1.

Unlike for the more recently established projects, some DFP cases had been closed for up to a year before the interviews took place. Consequently, while consent had initially been given, come the time of the interviews, some families were uncontactable. Some, for a variety of reasons, simply did not attend interviews as previously arranged.

In any case, given that 28 families were interviewed in this phase (see Table 1.1), then DFP's 9 accounted for 32% of the total.

Over both phases:

39 of DFP's cases fell within the parameters of the research. All cases considered to be live on or after 01.04.06 were to be included. Since some cases had already been closed by the time the pro-formas for the research were developed, retrospective consent required to be sought for some families. Some simply did not respond, or declined to give consent. Bearing this in mind, the actual figures for those who did give consent are:

27 out of 39, or 69% of all DFP families who fell within the criteria consented to researchers viewing their case files.

28 out of 39, or 71% of all DFP families who fell within the criteria consented to researchers seeking information from other agencies.

23 out of 39, or 59% of all DFP families who fell within the criteria agreed to take part in interviews.

A further 13 interviews took place at DFP during Phase 2 (out of 14 interviews arranged). Five of these were second interviews, with a further eight being 'new' interviewees.

The number of interviews which took place with DFP families was therefore 22, amounting to a third of the total across the five projects.

A number of difficulties were encountered in seeking to arrange interviews. Many of the families involved in the projects were, not surprisingly, living in extremely vulnerable situations. The majority had been working with their IFSP only for a short period and were starting to address serious issues such as homelessness, eviction, drug and alcohol misuse and child welfare. While agreeing to participate in the research in principle, some people cancelled or otherwise missed scheduled appointments. Others experienced personal problems which meant that they were unable to commit to an interview during the research period - for example, one family was made homeless during the interview period and another experienced bereavement.

As one project worker commented: " a week is a long time for these families". Indeed, one family described themselves as having made significant changes in their lives at the point of interview. However, a week later the situation had deteriorated considerably and their children had been taken into care. This example starkly illustrates the chaotic and unstable lifestyles which IFSPs are working with.

The interviews completed involved a face to face meeting, each lasting approximately one hour. All bar two were conducted at Project offices. As the service users were already working with their IFSP, this provided a familiar and comfortable setting. Interviewees were invited to bring a friend or project worker to the interview, although none accepted this offer. The interview topic guides were designed to be as sympathetically phrased as possible, thus limiting the impact upon families that may be under stress. Project worker were available after the interview was completed if additional support was required. Where possible (and consent had been given), the researchers also reviewed case files maintained by project staff relating to the service users being interviewed. A further 15 case files (at P4 Perth and DFP) were reviewed where families had allowed access to their personal records but had not consented to interview.

Table A2.2 - Families participating in service user interviews - summary details

(a) Interviews achieved in 2007

Project

No of children

Household type

Outreach or core?

Perpetrators

Referral agency

Employment status/history of interviewed adult

Risk of child into care

Drug use

Alcohol

Depression

Dundee

1

Single female headed

Core, then dispersed

Adults only

LA housing

Never employed

High

No

Yes

Yes

Dundee

2

Single female headed

Core

Both adults and children

DV Refuge

Never employed

High

No

No

Yes

Dundee

1

Single female headed

Core

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

High

Yes

No

Yes

Dundee

5

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

ASBT

Currently unemployed

High

No

No

Yes

Dundee

2

Two adult family

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Employed

Low

No

No

Yes

Dundee

2

Two adult family

Dispersed

Adults only

LA housing

Never employed

Medium

Yes

No

No

Dundee

2

Single female headed

Core

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

High

No

Yes

Yes

Dundee

2

Single female headed

Core

Children only

LA housing

Never employed

High

No

No

Yes

Dundee

2 (one in care)

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Never employed

High

No

Yes

No

Dundee

1

Single female headed

Core, then dispersed

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

High

Yes

No

No

Falkirk

2

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

LA social work

Never employed

DK

No

Yes

Yes

Falkirk

1

Single female headed

Outreach

Adult only

LA housing

Never employed

Low

No

No

No

Falkirk

2

Single female headed

Outreach

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

Low

No

No

Yes

Falkirk

2

Two adult family

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA social work

Never employed

DK

No

No

DK

Perth

2

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

ASBIT

Currently unemployed

Low

No

No

Yes

Perth

3

Two adult family

Outreach

Adults only

LA social work

Currently unemployed

High

Yes

No

Yes

South Lanarkshire

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Never employed

High

Yes

Yes

Yes

South Lanarkshire

6

Single female headed

Outreach

LA social work

Currently unemployed

Medium

Yes

No

No

South Lanarkshire

6

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Never employed

High

No

No

Yes

South Lanarkshire

4

Two adult family

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Never employed

Medium

Yes

Yes

No

(b) Interviews undertaken in 2008

Project

No of children

Household type

Outreach or core?

Perpetrators

Referral agency

Employment status/history of interviewed adult

Risk of child into care

Drug use

Alcohol

Depression

Aberdeen

1

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

Other

Currently unemployed (previously employed)

Low

Yes

Aberdeen

1

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed (previously employed)

Low

Yes

Yes

Dundee

2

Single female headed

Blank

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

Low

Dundee

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Never employed

High

Dundee

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Currently unemployed

Low

Yes

Falkirk

2

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed (previously employed)

Low

Yes

Falkirk

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed (previously employed)

Low

Yes

Falkirk

2

Two adult

Outreach

Adults only

LA social work

Never employed

Blank

Yes

Falkirk

4

Two adult

Outreach

Adults only

LA social work

Currently unemployed

Low

Yes

Yes

Falkirk

6

Single female headed

Outreach

Adults only

Blank

Currently unemployed

High

Yes

Perth

6

Two adult

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Employed part time

Low

Perth

6

Two adult

Outreach

Children only

LA social work

Currently unemployed

Medium

Yes

Perth

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed

Medium

Yes

Yes

Perth

5

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Employed part time

Medium

Perth

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Children only

LA housing

Employed part time

Medium

Yes

Yes

Perth

5

Two adult

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed

High

Yes

Yes

Yes

Perth

4

Two adult

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Blank

Low

Yes

Yes

South Lanarkshire

3

Single female headed

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Never employed

High

Yes

Yes

Yes

South Lanarkshire

1

Single female headed

Outreach

Adults only

LA social work

Currently unemployed

High

Yes

Yes

South Lanarkshire

3

Two adult

Outreach

Both adults and children

LA housing

Currently unemployed (previously employed)

High

Yes

Yes

NB thirteen interviews were conducted in Dundee in 2008. There are only three records in this table, however, due to the fact that five families were also originally interviewed in 2007 and are therefore listed in Table A2.2(a); and following that, out of remaining eight families five were accepted for project support before 2006 and therefore no data was available for them on employment status, risk of child being taken into care, and health problems.