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How do we measure our impact?

12 December 2014

Our 12 HeadStart test and learn projects are busy working to build the resilience of thousands of young people, but how do we capture all of this to share and learn from?  Mia Eisenstadt from Reos, one of the partners delivering our HeadStart evaluation explains more:

Close up of child playing with lights

Impact… how do we measure it?

HeadStart is providing funding for 12 local partnerships to pilot projects that aim to prevent serious mental health conditions in young people and build personal resilience, in a context of rising rates of serious mental health issues in children and young people. But, how can we understand the impact these projects have on young people’s lives?

Big Lottery Fund have appointed a collaboration between the Evidence Based Practice Unit (EBPU) part of the Anna Freud Centre and UCL, University of Manchester, Common Room, and Reos to conduct an evaluation. The evaluation will look into the extent that local projects meet three HeadStart outcomes:

  1. enabling young people to cope with difficult experiences and do well in life
  2. reducing the onset of serious mental health conditions through resilience building
  3. learning from approaches to contribute to an evidence base for service re-design and investment in prevention.

The evaluation team are currently implementing the first of four phases of the evaluation. During phase one we are working with all 12 partnerships through workshops and information sharing to develop a common measurement framework (CMF). This framework will be rolled out across all areas to show changes in children and young people’s mental health, well being and resilience. As part of this activity we have been mapping out what types of support each partnership is providing to children and their families to support their mental well being and resilience.

Mia Eisenstadt

Mia Eisenstadt, Reos

Future phases will look to collect online survey data, refine and trial the model and collect qualitative data for each site through focus groups and interviews. At the end of this work a report will be published to share the results of the evaluation.

To make sure that the work of the evaluation team is both engaging and accessible to young people, two young advisors Amy and Naomi have been working with us to help design processes and governance to enable young people to make a valuable contribution in the local and national evaluation.

Our hope for the future is that the evidence we capture adds to the understanding of how to help young people navigate through adversity and bounce back from problems in life. Our wish is that it will not only contribute to an evidence base for the prevention of mental health problems, but also support more young people across England to live happier and healthier lives.

Mia Eisenstadt, Reos


To keep up to date with HeadStart please sign up to the Big Lottery Fund’s quarterly ebulletin

Also check out the Fulfilling Lives: Head Start projects

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