Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund evaluation: final report

Final report of the evaluation of the CYFEI and ALEC Fund.


The Scottish Government established the Children, Young People & Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning & Empowering Communities (CYPFEI & ALEC) Fund in 2016 to enhance the core services and infrastructure of third sector organisations in relevant policy areas. In total 118 third sector organisations were awarded core funding of approximately £14m for 2016/17 with subsequent funding dependent on satisfactory progress towards their stated outcomes and Scottish Government budgets. Further annual core funding awards of £14m followed in 2017/18 and 2018/19. In March 2018, Scottish Government announced the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund would continue for a fourth year to the end of March 2020.

Iconic Consulting conducted a formative evaluation of the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund to assess whether the overall vision for the Fund was achieved and to help inform future decisions around this area of funding. The evaluation covered the core funding awards during the period from April 2016 to March 2019. It did not cover the fourth year of core funding or the project funding awards made separately by the Fund in 2017. A Baseline Report was published in September 2016 summarising the initial findings, followed by an Interim Report in November 2018 which assessed progress and the emerging impact. 

Fund overview

The overall vision of the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund was to:

  • Deliver nationally on improved outcomes for children, families, young people and adult learners through supporting the third sector in prevention and early intervention approaches.
  • Strengthen the third sector to increase the effectiveness of services and policies that prioritise prevention and early intervention in the areas of children, young people and families and adult learning, at a national level through:
    • Developing the third sector’s national level infrastructure to support local service delivery.
    • Establishing mechanisms that support sharing of information and intelligence between Scottish Government and the third sector to improve policy development and the use of evidence in policy making.
    • Increasing the intrinsic capacity and skills of third sector organisations across a range of features (including through experience sharing between organisations).
    • Increase the number of formal and informal partnerships between third sector organisations.

The Fund aimed to contribute to national outcomes. The CYPFEI element of the Fund was expected to improve outcomes for children, young people and their families through: 1) the delivery of prevention and early intervention; 2) building parenting and family capacity and skills; and 3) contributing to positive and sustained support for children and young people to achieve their potential under the GIRFEC Wellbeing indicators. The ALEC element of the Fund was expected to improve outcomes for adult learners and building community capacity through: 1) prevention and early intervention through adult learning and community capacity building; 2) support to, and delivery of, lifewide, lifelong, learner-centred adult learning as outlined in the Statement of Ambition for Adult Learning in Scotland; and 3) using an asset based approach, work with adult learners or with communities to plan and co-design learning or capacity building opportunities. The CYPFEI & ALEC Fund objectives were aligned with, and expected to contribute to, delivery of Scottish Government policy in these key areas.

The Fund supported third sector organisations across nine key policy areas:

  • Parenting, Play and Family Support
  • Early Learning and Childcare
  • Looked After Children
  • Children’s rights and well-being
  • Child protection
  • Child Health
  • Adult Learning and Empowering Communities
  • Youthwork
  • Gender based violence.

The Fund was overseen by the Scottish Government Promoting Prevention Team. The Corra Foundation (formerly Lloyds TSB Foundation for Scotland) was commissioned by the Scottish Government to deliver the grant management and monitoring aspects of the Fund and provide support to the funded organisations. The Support and Engagement Programme consisted of a series of learning and development workshops; networking and learning exchange sessions; 1-2-1 organisational support; information and resource sharing; and annual conferences.

Policy context

The Baseline and Interim Reports summarised the evolving policy context over the life of the Fund. Key references included:

  • The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.
  • The Scottish Attainment Challenge.
  • The Adult Learning in Scotland Statement of Ambition.
  • The Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015.
  • The Fairer Scotland Action Plan (October 2016).
  • Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015 Community Planning Guidance (2016).
  • Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.
  • Every Child, Every Chance: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22.

More recent policy developments are summarised below.

Community Learning and Development (CLD) policy transferred from Education Scotland to the Scottish Government in September 2018. The new CLD Policy Team worked with the adult learning sector to refresh the previous Strategic Forum for Adult Learning and create the new Adult Learning Strategic Forum Scotland. The Forum will provide strategic advice and direction to the Scottish Government in support of adult learning policy including the development of an Adult Learning Strategy for Scotland in 2020. Also in September 2018, Scottish Government produced its Programme for Government. The aspects of the programme most relevant to the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund were The Best Place to Grow Up and Learn, and An Empowered, Equal and Safe Scotland. 

In December 2018, The Scottish Government published Progressing the Human Rights of Children in Scotland: An Action Plan 2018-21. Children and young people contributed to the development of the plan which aims to help children and young people to experience their rights. The plan states: ‘A Scotland where children are recognised as citizens in their own right and where their human rights are embedded in all aspects of society is the Vision we aspire to; a Scotland where policy, law and decision making takes account of children’s rights and where all children have a voice and are empowered to be human rights defenders’. 

Scottish Government published a progress report in December 2018 on the 50 actions outlined in its Fairer Scotland Action Plan (2016). The progress report outlined the many actions that have been delivered or are in progress, such as the Innovation Fund in partnership with the Hunter Foundation. The fund supported eight new projects to reduce child poverty in 2018/19 with a combined investment of £450,000. The projects ranged from job training and a befriending service, to school-based mentoring and support for lone parents.

2018 was the Year of Young People in Scotland. The initiative provided a focus for children and young people’s issues, showcased the extensive range of activities and opportunities for children and young people, and delivered a series of events across the country. A Scottish Parliament debate on the Year of Young People took place in March 2019. 2018 also saw the Independent Care Review, set up in 2017, move from its Journey stage to the Discovery stage. 

In early 2019, Scottish Government published National Operational Guidance to support the ongoing implementation of Scottish Attainment Challenge’s Pupil Equity Funding (PEF). The objective was to help schools plan how they will spend their allocations in the most effective way. Education Scotland also published Interventions for Equity: a framework to support PEF. The framework was based on a range of approaches already being implemented across Scotland and aims to help schools select interventions to help close the attainment gap in their respective contexts. 

In May 2019, Scottish Government published a Wellbeing Report that provides a holistic picture of the current and longer-term performance across the revised National Outcomes as outlined in Scotland’s National Performance Framework (published in 2018). In the same month, the Scottish Government announced the Family and Communities Fund. From April 2020, the Fund will provide up to £16 million per year to third sector organisations to reduce inequalities and provide the best outcomes for children and families through offering support, such as training in parenting skills, helping looked after children or perinatal services. The Fund will be managed by the Corra Foundation.

In July 2019, the Poverty and Inequality Commission was established as an advisory public body after it had been proposed by the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017. The Commission will provide independent advice to Scottish Ministers on poverty and inequality, monitoring progress, and proposing solutions to reduce poverty and inequality in Scotland.


The specific questions to be addressed by the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund evaluation are: 

  • How has this fund as a whole contributed at a national level towards improving outcomes for beneficiaries? 
  • Has the embedding of early intervention and prevention in the ethos of organisations supported through this fund been sustained or improved. If so, what was the contribution of this fund, and what has the impact been?
  • Has the Fund impacted on internal Scottish Government processes and ways of working, including third sector having opportunities to co-produce and add value to the development of Scottish Government policy? 
  • Have the capacity, skills and knowledge of the third sector improved as a result of being part of this funding programme. If so, what has the impact been? 
  • Have formal and informal partnerships between third sector organisations arisen as a result of being part of this fund? If so, what has the impact of these partnerships been?

This Final Report is based on evidence gathered via the following research:

  • A group discussion with the Scottish Government Promoting Prevention Team overseeing the Fund and a separate group discussion with the Corra Foundation team responsible for grant management, monitoring and support.
  • A review of Fund documents including quarterly reports produced by a sample of 20 funded organisations selected at the outset of the evaluation to cover a cross-section of grant holders, the Corra Foundation’s annual overview report and annual summaries of the Support and Engagement Programme, and minutes of the Stakeholder Group.
  • An online self-assessment exercise completed by 85 of the 118 funded organisations in May 2019, a response rate of 72%. The self-assessment exercise was designed as the central part of the evaluation methods and the form was co-produced with the Scottish Government at the outset of the evaluation to focus on seven themes that reflected the Fund’s outcomes and the evaluation aims. The survey was previously undertaken in May 2016 and May 2017 and the findings are intended to indicate changes in third sector views over the evaluation period. Appendix 1 contains further details on the survey and Appendix 2 contains a summary of the findings.
  • A confidential survey completed by 14 of 34 Policy Officers from Scottish Government and Education Scotland, a response rate of 41%.
  • Depth interviews conducted with representatives from 13 third sector organisations supported by the Fund. 
  • Detailed analysis of the quantitative and qualitative evidence gathered from the research described above. The evaluation questions provided the overarching framework for the analysis. Responses to the self-assessment exercise were analysed in Excel. Noteworthy changes in responses from 2016 to 2019 are highlighted in this report as potential indicators of change rather than definitive, statistically significant findings. These findings are complemented by the qualitative findings which were analysed using a thematic approach that identified recurring or notable issues.

Report structure 

This report addresses the evaluation questions and is therefore structured as follows:

  • Section 2 assesses the Fund’s contribution at a national level towards improving outcomes for beneficiaries.
  • Section 3 examines the Fund’s impact on the capacity, skills and knowledge of the funded organisations.
  • Section 4 considers the Fund’s impact on partnerships involving funded organisations.
  • Section 5 assesses the Fund’s impact on embedding early intervention and prevention in the ethos of funded organisations.
  • Section 6 examines the Fund’s impact on internal Scottish Government processes and ways of working.
  • Section 7 presents the evaluation conclusions.



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