Today, the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) and Department for Education (DfE) have launched their new Systems Evidence and Gap Map (EGM). It’s here to help researchers, policy analysts, policy- makers or commissioners find studies about complex systems of support and the way they do – or don’t – support children and young people and prevent their involvement in violence.
So what is an Evidence and Gap Map (EGM)?
Evidence and Gap Maps help us figure out what we do – and don’t – know about a particular topic. They focus on a specific policy area (for example, reducing homelessness or – in our case – reducing serious violence) and offer us a visual representation of where evidence exists and how rigorous the research was. What they don’t show us is what the evidence says. You couldn’t look at an Evidence and Gap Map to see, for example, if a certain policy or programme achieves the result it intended to. For that level of information, you have to read the studies themselves or use other evidence resources (including evidence toolkits, like the YEF Toolkit).
If an EGM doesn’t tell you what the evidence says, what can you use it for?
We think the Systems EGM will be really useful for policy analysts, policy-makers, researchers and commissioners. That’s because, by looking at where evidence exists and where there are gaps, users will be able to focus research in areas that build our understanding of what works to protect children from violence. It also helps users to find high-quality evidence to support their work. We’ll make this easier to do with future resources.
So will you publish more accessible versions of the reports the EGM identifies?
Yes. The YEF and Department for Education will publish accessible literature reviews, which help different audiences see the most important implications for policy and practice. Developed from the Systems EGM, it will provide useful, accessible information about the way systems can support children and young people most effectively.
How’s this different from YEF’s Programmes Evidence and Gap Map?
YEF’s Programmes EGM maps the evidence and identified gaps in what we know about different approaches (for example, mentoring, sports programmes or therapies) and how effective they are at reducing violence. This is really important knowledge, but we know that – to make change for young people – we can’t just look into programmes and practice, we need to understand the systems in which the programme take place. That’s why we’ve also developed this Systems EGM, which identifies over 400 studies looking at various policies and practices that have been implemented in complex systems of services and support (for example, in education, health, social care or community support).
What will the YEF and DfE do next?
Our Systems EGM is part of a wider partnership between YEF and the DfE. Together, we’re working on the DfE-YEF Serious Violence Research Programme, which aims to better understand how a person’s journey through different systems of support, and the different qualities of the experiences along the way, might protect or expose them to involvement in serious youth violence.
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