This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
Findings are published today from the final stage of the “work-focused services in children’s centres” pilot evaluation. The pilot operated in 30 children’s centres across ten local authority areas, running from January 2009 to March 2011. It provided work-focused services through a dedicated Jobcentre Plus Personal Adviser, as well as activities and provision designed to support local parents into the labour market.
A comprehensive evaluation assessed the impacts of providing work-focused services on parents’ preparations for and movement into work, as well as stakeholder experiences of implementing the pilot. A mixed methods evaluation was put in place, including surveys of centre users, interviews with parents, staff and stakeholders, and analysis of Management Information.
Findings from the final evaluation show that:
Overall, the pilot areas have successfully integrated Jobcentre Plus Personal Advisers into the children’s centres. The flexibility of this role has been key to its success with customers and pilot staff alike. Some advisers did, however, find it difficult to manage the tension of balancing work-focused activities with less structured engagement and outreach activities.
All pilot sites have delivered the five core elements of pilot provision and demand for the pilot has been high. The pilot has made significant progress in preparing parents for work, in getting parents to think about work and in linking them into wider support which they might need in the interim period.
Outreach has been one of the most successful elements of the pilot. Through a variety of outreach methods the pilot has successfully engaged a mix of traditional and non-traditional Jobcentre Plus customers.
More joined up services meant that parents had better access to services on one site, and this meant that they were often dealt with more quickly. Referrals between services also meant that parents’ issues were not addressed in isolation from each other, but were tackled more holistically.
Partnership working has been strong, and has grown over time, between Jobcentre Plus and children’s centres. Partnership working with other local providers tended to be more limited in some areas. A major factor in pilot success is also whether children’s centre managers understand the role that employment can play in providing a route out of poverty.
Notes to Editors
“Work-Focused Services in Children’s Centres Pilot: Final evaluation report” by Rachel Marangozov and Helen Stevens is published today as part of the DWP Research Summary series (Research Report Number 772). A copy of the report and summary can be downloaded from the Department’s website at: http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rrs-index.asp
The work-focused services in children’s centres pilot was one of a suite of Child Poverty Pilots announced in 2008 and funded until March 2011 to test and explore new approaches at a local level and to build up the evidence base on what works in tackling child poverty.
The WFS pilot aimed to test whether children’s centres can offer an effective means of engaging parents in labour market activity, moving them closer to work and ultimately into employment.
The pilot was assessed through a mixed methods impact and implementation evaluation, making use of in-house data and externally commissioned research being carried out by the Institute of Employment Studies (IES). The main components of the evaluation have been:
two waves of case study interviews with pilot staff and some children’s centre users (autumn/winter 2009 and 2010);
two waves of in-depth qualitative interviews with children’s centre users, both those who had and had not used the pilot (summer 2009 and 2010);
two waves of a survey of children’s centre users conducted in all the pilot children’s centres (a “baseline” survey in January 2009 and a wave two survey in 2011);
a comparison study that involved nine children’s centres in three non-pilot local authorities so that any trends in take-up or attitudes could be linked to the pilot. The comparison study involved both case study research (autumn/winter 2010) and a survey of children’s centre users (January 2010).
A baseline and interim evaluation report have already been published: Marangozov, R. (2009) Work-focused services in children’s centres pilot: Evaluation baseline report. DWP Research Report No. 602; and Marangozov, R. and Stevens, H. (2010) Work-focused services in children’s centres pilot: Interim report. DWP Research Report No. 677.