Developing a local child poverty action report: guidance

Guidance for local authorities on developing a local child poverty action report.

Principles to consider when writing LCPARs

In writing LCPARs, local partners are encouraged to consider these principles:

Balancing long term planning and annual reporting

Tackling child poverty requires short, medium and long term action, and action across all areas of local authority and health board activity. LCPARs should aim to set out clear, strategic aims and describe how local partners plan to track their progress. Reports should aim to clearly set out annual progress alongside any updates to the strategy.

We have heard local leads’ feedback on the challenges of balancing annual reporting with longer term, strategic planning. If preferred, local leads are free to publish a more strategic report every three or four years - with deeper analytical focus and longer term, strategic direction - alongside annual progress reports documenting progress and specific actions planned for the coming year. i.e. the same depth of contextual analysis and detailed strategising need not be repeated annually – rather, annual progress reports could clearly refer back to a multi-year, strategic report. This reporting pattern might involve more intensive engagement and sign-off from various partners for the strategic report and a more streamlined governance process for annual progress reports. Local leads are invited to align their LCPARs with the four year cycle of the national delivery plans and to be aware of other relevant reporting cycles - see the section entitled ‘Guidance on the reporting process’.

NB. If opting for a multi-year strategy, annual reporting is still required under the Act.

Focussed reporting

Tackling child poverty is complex and covers a wide range of actions. It is not expected that LCPARs report equally on every action taken/proposed that might impact families experiencing poverty. To produce focussed reports, local partners are encouraged to consider:

  • a local needs assessment – what most needs to change in your area?
  • based on evidence, what actions are likely to impact on priority areas identified from that needs assessment?
  • based on evidence, what local actions are likely to have the largest impact on the drivers of child poverty?
  • how have priority groups been considered in the actions - how will you ensure priority families are being reached?
  • how will actions – and their impacts on priority groups - be monitored and evaluated?
  • what additional value are partnerships adding to the strategic aims set out in their LCPAR?
  • reflecting on actions taken, what are the key points for learning, improvement and change? What actions are working/not working and why?

Authors of LCPARs might consider where information – for example, governance structure – has already been set out in another report and whether the LCPAR could link back to an existing publication rather than restating.

Making connections

An effective approach to tackling child poverty will require local areas to identify and utilise all the policy levers at their disposal, with particular consideration given to the specific impact on families with children, especially those in the priority groups. LCPARs should therefore provide an opportunity to better coordinate efforts across, for example,

  • housing
  • transport
  • childcare
  • education
  • physical and mental health care
  • and economic development

in order to deliver the most holistic and effective support possible for families. This involves analysing broader policy decisions and spending from a child poverty perspective - applying a child poverty lens to local systems.

‘Best Start, Bright Futures’ is a plan for all of Scotland and highlights the need for national, regional and local efforts to be joined up in order to see progress toward the child poverty targets. Local leads are encouraged, where possible, to show how actions/policies are integrating: e.g. How are national, regional and local actions on transport and employability interconnecting?

Your reports might reflect on how local work to tackle child poverty connects with:

  • Whole Family Wellbeing and GIRFEC
  • Keeping the Promise to care experienced children.
  • United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
    • You might consider completing a Children’s Rights and Wellbeing Impact assessment like the impact assessment published alongside ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’.

Effective use of information

In LCPARs, try to avoid listing actions without explaining the reasons for taking such action and describing how effective actions have been in tackling (and/or creating the conditions for tackling) child poverty.

For local actions to tackle child poverty to be most effective, they should be based on effective use of information throughout the planning process:

  • using information to identify local needs and select priorities
  • using information on what works (and doesn’t work) to inform actions to address local priorities
  • using information to monitor and evaluate the impact of evidence-based actions on the areas they are targeting
  • capturing new information from what’s learned through new innovative actions to add to the evidence base of what works/doesn’t work.

The types of information that can be used to help local areas in each of the stages include:

  • quantitative data
  • what works evidence (from research and case studies)
  • qualitative data (including from those with direct experience of poverty and those who work to support them)

See the section entitled ‘Guidance on planning, monitoring and evaluation’ for further detail on effective use of information throughout the planning process and the different types of information available, as well as links to data sources.

Monitoring progress and measuring impact

Planning local actions to reduce child poverty and evaluating their impact in a complex landscape is a challenge. Given this complexity, a focus on data-driven, theory-based actions are key. This allows a clear line of sight, or ‘golden thread’ which links each activity undertaken to address local child poverty to: 1) evidence that the issues being addressed are local priorities and 2) evidence that the activity will be effective against the priority identified.

The complexity of tackling child poverty also means that there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to monitoring and evaluation. Rather, there are different types that are relevant and valid depending on the local approach. LCPARs might include:

  • routine monitoring (If actions have an existing evidence base)
  • bespoke evaluation / capturing learning (If actions do not have an existing evidence base)
  • evaluating the plan as a whole (Stepping back to assess at a system level)

Read more detail on these types of monitoring and evaluation.

Note that it is important to report honestly on actions which are not working and on the challenges impeding local anti-poverty work. Clarity on these points allows better targeting of resources and support

A ‘golden thread’ linking high-level strategic priorities with specific objectives for services, teams and individuals, aligns activities to desired outcomes, and reflects the contributions of multiple stakeholders. In reports, it is helpful to have clarity on

  • who is accountable for delivering agreed actions,
  • how they are being resourced,
  • when they will be delivered and
  • when a measurable impact is expected.

Summary of guidance

Consider, does your LCPAR contain the following?

  • Alignment with ‘Best Start, Bright Futures’
  • Focus on the three drivers of child poverty
  • Special consideration of priority families
  • Partnership working with public and third sector partners
  • Voices of people with direct experience of poverty
  • Actions rooted in good understanding of local poverty
  • Plans based on good use of information
  • A holistic, person-centred approach to supporting families
  • Case studies highlighting effective actions taken
  • Monitoring and evaluating actions using relevant indicators
  • Clear connections with related plans / strategies
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