Publication - Research and analysis

Evaluation of the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund: interim report

Published: 23 Apr 2019
Directorate:
Housing and Social Justice Directorate
ISBN:
9781787816572

Iconic Consulting is conducting a formative evaluation of the core funding awards made by the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund.

Evaluation of the Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention and Adult Learning and Empowering Communities Fund: interim report
Progress and Support

Progress and Support

This section focuses on the implementation of the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund since it was launched in April 2016. It provides an overview of progress among the funded organisations and summarises the support provided by the Corra Foundation.

Overview

Overall, monitoring information submitted by the funded organisations demonstrates good progress against their stated outcomes. At the end of the second year of the Fund (end of March 2018) 111 of the 119 grant recipients[2] (93%) reported they were ‘on track’ to meet their outcomes; a similar situation had been reported at the end of the first year when 91% of grant recipients stated progress was ‘on track’.

Six grant recipients reported progress was ‘probably (on track) but we have some concerns’ at the end of 2017/18. However, their concerns appeared to be relatively minor and tended to involve issues the organisations had faced and largely overcome such as challenges developing new services or generating referrals from partner agencies or where other time commitments had temporarily affected CYPFEI & ALEC funded activities.

Only two grant recipients reported that they were not on track to achieve their outcomes. One of the organisations had experienced significant funding issues which had, at one point, led to concerns about their ongoing viability; these issues were subsequently addressed with support from the Scottish Government and the Corra Foundation. The other organisation had also experienced funding issues following the loss of a significant contract although there was no concern about this organisation’s viability.

The Corra Foundation provided additional assistance to the above organisations that reported progress was not ‘on track’.

The Foundation had also raised concerns about one organisation that reported it was ‘on track’ to meet its outcomes. Their concerns related to the organisation’s ability to gather robust evidence to back up the reported impact and additional support was provided to support them with their evidence gathering.

The CYPFEI & ALEC Fund has supported a significant number of beneficiaries during 2016/17 and 2017/18. As part of their end of year monitoring submissions to the Corra Foundation, funded organisation are required to report on the number of: 1) children and young people, 2) families, and 3) adults including practitioners. The Foundation’s analysis of this data found over one million children and young people, over 900,000 families, and over half a million adults were supported by the Fund[3].

Beneficiaries Cumulative total for 2016/17 and 2017/18
Children & Young People 1,151,954
Adults 578,709
Families 915,498

Source: Corra Foundation Annual Report 2017/18

The breakdown of beneficiaries across the Fund’s specific policy areas is shown in the figure below.

Figure 1 - Breakdown of Beneficiaries Across Fund Policy Areas

Figure 1 - Breakdown of Beneficiaries Across Fund Policy Areas

Delivery

CYPFEI & ALEC funding is supporting a wide variety of core services and infrastructure costs. Examples follow although it should be noted that a distinction has tended not to be been made between core services and infrastructure as some funded organisations reportedly found this confusing and unhelpful.

Core services include one-to-one and group support to beneficiaries (children and young people, families, and adults including practitioners) delivered directly by the funded organisation. Examples include: Article 12 in Scotland providing SQA accredited learning opportunities for young people from the Gypsy/Traveller community, One Parent Families Scotland’s Fathers’ Support Service, and Save the Children’s Eat, Sleep, Learn, Play! Programme.

Infrastructure costs are very broad. A number of organisations have funded or part-funded central posts including strategic posts such as Director, Co-ordinator, Policy Officer, Head of Communications, and Development Officer. For example, Children’s Health Scotland has part-funded the National Co-ordinator and Development Officer posts (as well as other core costs) which has enabled the organisation to promote their work, identify and promote good practice, develop a new workstream (for looked after and accommodated children), and engage hard to reach groups including minority ethnic families. Some organisations have utilised infrastructure funding to support other central posts such as finance, HR, administration, and fundraising. In addition, some organisations have used funding to contribute to other costs such as Enable Scotland facilitating the involvement of young people with learning disabilities in the organisation’s self advocacy groups and the Boys Brigade delivering a comprehensive volunteer training programme across Scotland.

Corra Foundation 

The Corra Foundation has supported funded organisations via visits, Networking and Learning Exchange events, Support and Engagement Programme, and Annual Conferences.

The support has been extensive and has produced several significant outputs. For example, 123 face to face meetings took place with funded organisations during 2017/18, 18 individuals attended a ‘Mental Wellbeing of Children and Young People’ session which was part of the Networking and Learning Exchange, and 10 individuals attended a full day workshop on ‘Improving Monitoring & Evaluation Practice: Logic Modelling’ delivered by Evaluation Support Scotland which was part of the Support and Engagement Programme. Two Annual Conferences have been held – the first focused on ‘Exploring Organisational Sustainability’ attended by 132 individuals, the second on ‘Evidencing Your Impact’ attended by 154 individuals. Presentations from Ministers, funded organisations and external speakers were complemented by a range of workshops and informal networking opportunities. Feedback on both conferences was overwhelmingly positive.

Funded organisations praised the Corra Foundation for the smooth operation of the grant management and the comprehensive support provided. They complimented the team on their knowledge, understanding, communication and speed of response.

“The delivery of the administration and support and learning programme by the Corra Foundation has been fantastic and has been a very obvious positive difference to this funding programme”. (Third sector organisation)

“We have always received really excellent support from LTSB / Corra Foundation - across a range of difficulties - very much appreciated!”. (Third sector organisation)

Monitoring

Overall, the funded organisations’ monitoring reports have been of a high standard. The reports tend to contain comprehensive information drawing on both quantitative and qualitative sources and in many cases this is supported by additional evidence such as case studies or examples of their output.

During the first two years of the Fund, the majority of funded organisations have submitted their quarterly monitoring returns by the specified deadline. However, on average 14 funded organisations per quarter have submitted late monitoring returns. The overall trend of late submissions is increasing, rising from five in the first quarter of 2016/17 to 33 in the fourth quarter of 2017/18. Staff illness and holidays were the main reasons (where one was provided) for late submissions. Workload also appears to be a factor as the annual peak in late submissions occurred in the final quarter of both years.

Most organisations supported by the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund stated that the reporting requirements were not overly time consuming and the shorter requirements in the first and third quarters were welcomed. However, there were some concerns expressed by organisations receiving relatively small CYPFEI & ALEC core funding awards about the time involved being disproportionate to the level of funding as they have the same reporting requirements as organisations receiving more substantial awards. For example, one organisation described the process as “way beyond what we’d consider to be proportionate”. Taking into account the significant variation between the largest CYPFEI & ALEC Fund core funding award (£1.5m in 2018/19) and the smallest (£7,500 in 2018/19) we recommend future reporting requirements reflect the level of award. This could for example, involve less frequent and/or less detailed reporting requirements on organisations receiving less than a set amount, or a sliding scale of requirements reflecting differing awards.

Some (mainly smaller) organisations also stated that compiling the information could be time consuming irrespective of the amount of funding. For example, one organisation reported it could take up to a week although most organisations stated the reports took a day or less to compile. A small number of funded organisations reported that investment in software had significantly improved the monitoring process by reducing the time involved and providing the specific information required. Other organisations that already had such software also stated it helped complete the quarterly reports.

A number of funded organisations highlighted difficulties in monitoring and reporting on outcomes when the Fund supported infrastructure costs, for example, where the Fund supported ‘back-office’ functions there was a limit to what the organisations could report on a quarterly basis. Some of these organisations questioned the rationale for setting outcomes in such circumstances, although they acknowledged the broader outcome-focused approach adopted by the Scottish Government. We recommend this issue is discussed by the Scottish Government as part of deliberations on the future of the Fund. In addition, some funded organisations and Policy Officers noted that the layout of the monitoring forms made them difficult to read, although they acknowledged this was a relatively minor issue.


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