What does this project involve?
The Transition and Resilience project provided support to families of 10 to 14 year olds at risk of exclusion, who were showing evidence of anti-social behaviour, poor attainment or early childhood trauma. Key project aims were to strengthen the home environment and improve children’s behaviour after referral by schools. Young people received 6 months of tailored support, featuring six potential components: intensive support from an Intensive Inclusion Practitioner, group work and peer mentoring, a CBT informed phone app, counselling sessions, mentoring, and a virtual-reality tool targeting children’s decision making.
Why did YEF fund this project?
Several of the components of Family Support’s Transition and Resilience project are in line with evidence on what works for reducing serious youth violence. As YEF’s Toolkit explains, interventions including mentoring, and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy have, on average, a positive impact on reducing serious youth violence and offending. However, there are also significant gaps in the evidence base, such as whether trauma informed training and service redesign can reduce children’s involvement in crime and violence.
YEF funded a feasibility and pilot evaluation of the Transition and Resilience project to extend the evidence base in these areas, and to broaden our understanding of how these interventions are delivered.
The feasibility study aimed to ascertain what factors supported or interfered with the successful delivery of the programme, whether the intervention’s recruitment, retention and reach were feasible, and service users’ views and experiences of the intervention. In the feasibility phase, 46 families participated in the intervention, and 15 participants (including 8 professionals, 4 parents/carers and 3 children) took part in focus groups and interviews for the feasibility study.
The pilot study then aimed to describe the referral and screening process, assess family retention, ascertain the readiness for a larger scale evaluation, evaluate the implementation process, and assess the direction and magnitude of changes in child behaviour and family-functioning outcomes over time. 17 participants (including 5 young people, 5 adults with parental responsibility, and 7 professionals) were interviewed for the pilot, while quantitative data for the 89 families involved were analysed. This includes the original 46 families alongside those who were recruited during the pilot phase.
Data collected related to the delivery of the programme (including data on referrals, screening and assessment processes), demographic data, and some core measures (including the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), a measure of behaviour, and the SCORE 15 Index of Family Functioning and Change). 31% of the families involved identified as Black; 22% as White; 8% as Mixed; 7% as Asian and 16% as Other. Information on ethnicity was not provided for 16% of families.
The evaluation was undertaken from February 2020 to May 2022. Both the feasibility and pilot studies took place during the coronavirus pandemic, requiring both the delivery and evaluation teams to adapt to challenging circumstances.
|During the feasibility study, the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent social distancing measures had a profound impact on the project. The first lockdown prevented delivery and necessitated amendments to the original model of delivery. Recruitment was still effective. Family Support developed strong relationships with schools to facilitate referrals, and the referrals made by school partners were generally considered appropriate. It was clear that demand for the programme was considerably higher than the supply of places.|
|In the feasibility study, the small number of parents and children interviewed identified a range of benefits and improvements that they attributed to the programme These included supporting children’s transition to secondary school and improving behaviour. Overall, these interviewees had a positive experience. Areas for improvement suggested by participants included extending the length of the intervention and more communication from the intervention team.|
|The pilot found that programme retention was satisfactory, with the programme reporting that 60% of families completed the intervention. However, measure completion rates were low, with only 49% of families providing data six months into the programme. Poor data reporting meant that it was also not possible to fully assess the referral process.|
|Despite changes caused by COVID-19, the programme was broadly implemented as intended and in alignment with the logic model. One change made during the feasibility phase was to remove the Brain in Hand, CBT-informed, personalised phone and iPad support, as this was not being used.|
|The evaluator judges that the T&R programme was not ready for a randomised controlled trial. Several issues would need to be addressed before proceeding to further evaluation, most notably improving data collection.|
What will YEF do next?
YEF is not currently proceeding with any further evaluation of the Transition and Resilience project.