The Evaluation Journey Thus Far
In 2018 our published evaluation strategy set out how we intended to monitor and evaluate the action taken by the Scottish Government and its partners to tackle child poverty. The evaluation strategy was conceived as a long-term strategy to 2030, however it is right that we should build on experience and thinking during the first delivery plan period to review the evaluation approach to ensure that it is still sufficient for our needs.
Annual updates on progress have been published, which include evaluation evidence. Key evaluation findings from the first delivery plan include that:
- Early evidence suggests that key policies were potentially effective but more thought was needed in 'what works' findings about mode of delivery, scale of response and timescales for change.
- There was a need to pivot policies to ensure that child poverty outcomes and priority families were considered as a priority in policy implementation, data collection and evaluation.
- There was a lack of join-up between policies at national and local level making it difficult for families to navigate the cluttered landscape. Individual policy evaluations were not necessarily picking up these gaps.
- Some families experience multiple disadvantages or adversities. These families are often among those deepest in poverty and who face particularly challenging journeys to get out of poverty. They tend to require, additional, targeted holistic support. These activities did not fit well into current measurement approach.
- Tackling child poverty requires pulling levers in a complex system which makes attribution difficult to identify. There is an ongoing need to ensure that longer term impacts are captured and that unintended consequences on targets, but also on children and parents' wellbeing, are monitored.
The following improvements are suggested for the revised evaluation strategy:
- Consideration of the data and statistics around income and poverty, including the purpose, size and nature of any boost to the Family Resource Survey (FRS).
- Better contextualisation of data, especially thinking about long term trends.
- Continued use of qualitative and participative research to understand data.
- Further consideration of proxy indicators that might be available at local level.
- Incorporating periodic analysis of health and wellbeing outcome indicators to capture poverty-related evidence on longer term preventative action and to get early warning of potential adverse impacts from policies.
- Ongoing policy assessment, which includes developing a wider range of delivery, performance and impact data related to child poverty drivers and priority groups.
- Undertaking primary local case-study analysis of policy join-up (qualitative cumulative assessment), perhaps based around the pathfinder projects.
- Continued development and refinement of quantitative impact modelling.
- Improved governance, providing oversight of monitoring and evaluation principles and plans and bringing key findings/insights into deliberations.
- Periodic review of measurement framework to ensure that indicators are based on the latest and most accurate data.
- Reviewing the approach to producing priority family focus reports with the annual progress report, and consideration of more regular updates.
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