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Atlantic’s Children & Youth Programme in Ireland and Northern Ireland is Catalyst for Change

Resource type: Evaluation

The Atlantic Philanthropies |

The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Children & Youth Programme in Ireland and Northern Ireland has been a catalyst for change in encouraging government investment in evidence-based prevention and early intervention programmes, according to this evaluation commissioned by Atlantic.

In June 2009, The Atlantic Philanthropies published an evaluation report on its Children & Youth programme in Ireland. The evaluation, The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Children & Youth Program in Ireland and Northern Ireland: Overview of Program Evaluation Findings, was conducted by Mathematica Policy Research (MPR).

MPR reported that the Children & Youth Programme had been a catalyst for change in encouraging government investment in evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs, promoting evidence-based practice among service providers and engaging the academic sector in policy-oriented research.

Data was gathered in August and September 2008, with a final report completed by the end of January 2009. The report was released at sessions convened by Atlantic with current grantees in Dublin and Belfast. At the sessions, feedback from grantees was invited on the report and the Children & Youth Programme.

Four main findings emerged from the evaluation:

  • Government and local service providers reported an increased focus on prevention and early intervention. By investing funds in prevention and early intervention services, when government views such a shift as risky, the programme has generated enthusiasm in communities in which its grantees operate, and has the potential to demonstrate effectiveness of the programmes by supporting rigorous evaluations.
  • By supporting grantees’ use of a systematic and evidence-based approach to service design, the programme has introduced a new way of thinking among providers in regard to identifying needs, designing services, and approaching continuous service improvement.
  • New approaches to integrating services are emerging in local communities. Lead service providers are working with other providers and government agencies to bring coherence and alignment to service delivery.
  • The academic sector is developing capacity to help service deliverers plan services and study effectiveness. The academic sector also is positioned to partner with the newly emerging Centre for Effective Services (CES) – a non-academic centre designed to provide high-quality research support to service deliverers– to expand CES’s ability to draw on a wide range of research expertise.

Atlantic’s Strategic Learning Team commissioned the report as part of its practice of distilling lessons from its programmes. The report is timely in feeding into the current review of the global Children & Youth programme.

The report suggests future directions for the programme to build on the substantial progress made by Children & Youth team and work toward overcoming hurdles identified in the report.

Five areas are suggested as possibilities for future directions the Children & Youth programme could take:

  • Planning for the release of evaluation findings
  • Supporting grantees to promote successful implementation
  • Promoting service integration
  • Advocating for the widespread adoption by government of prevention and early intervention strategies with evidence of effectiveness
  • Building infrastructure to support a sustained evidence-based, prevention-focused approach into the future.