By Sarah Hadley
During my career as a voluntary sector youth worker, I have always faced the challenge about how to clearly show the service/programme I am working on makes a difference to the lives of the young people engaged in it, and have often relied on anecdotal evidence to show how they have transformed lives. This isn’t just an issue I have faced but one that many youth sector organisations struggle with. As we know in these times of economic uncertainty, services and programmes that can demonstrate improved outcomes for young people more effectively could prove more attractive to potential funders.
Recently I have come across ‘A framework of outcomes for young people’ which was published by the Young Foundation as part of the work carried out by the Catalyst consortium led by National Council for Voluntary Youth Services http://www.ncvys.org.uk . It aims to support organisations to become more confident in being able to evidence their impact. The Framework of Outcomes is designed to support understanding and measurement of the connections between intrinsic personal and social development outcomes and longer term extrinsic outcomes.
The framework includes a matrix of tools/techniques which the authors reviewed from across a range of services for young people, including schools, health and criminal justice agencies. The tools detailed in the matrix are by no means the only ones available but a selection of what is out there and by working through the framework you can decide which tool is most appropriate to the service/project that you deliver. What this framework has done is provide services with something for measuring those outcomes that have previously been hardest to quantify.
The excellent thing about this framework is that you are guided through the process and are therefore able to identify how best to measure the outcomes for the project/service you are delivering, showing that there isn’t a one size fits all when measuring outcomes.
More information on the framework or a full spreadsheet of the matrix of tools surveyed is available from the Young Foundation website. http://youngfoundation.org/
There is a ‘in practice’ follow-up that will be published by the end of March. It includes some pilot work and challenges faced by real organisations that are using it.