Skip to main content

Step Change: an evaluation

Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme Evaluation Report 13

Step Change was created as a partnership involving 3 Local Authorities (LAs) and the children’s charity, Action for Children (AfC). It intended to improve outcomes for young people (aged 11 -17 years) on the edge of care or custody and their families, by introducing evidence based programmes (EBPs). The project secured DfE innovation programme funding to run the first year of the project, with the expectation that the LAs would invest in the continuation of the model as it was rolled out to other LAs. The University of York Departments of Health Sciences and Social Policy and Social Work were commissioned to undertake a 9 month evaluation of the implementation and early impact of the project. This was extended to 14 months to accommodate delays to project start-up (June 2015 – August 2016).

The project initially intended to provide 3 EBPs; however, a decision was taken early on to remove Treatment Foster Care Oregon (TFCO) due to concerns about the costs and resources required and the availability of evidence of its effectiveness in the UK. Step Change therefore comprised the following EBPs:

1. Functional Family Therapy (FFT) delivered over 3 to 5 months on a weekly basis, for families with young people aged 11-17 years old with behavioural or emotional problems

2. Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) delivered over 3 to 5 months with 24 hour access to support, for families with young people aged 11-17 years at risk of out of home placement due to offending or severe behaviour problems

Step Change aimed to improve long term outcomes for young people by decreasing risk taking behaviours including offending, increasing engagement in education, employment and training (EET), and improving relationships between young people and their families to avoid family breakdown, and to reduce the need for care or custody.

In addition, Step Change aimed to bring about a cultural shift and improve service provision and efficiencies across the partner organisations by developing standardised best practice in delivering the EBPs; providing more efficient management of resources across the LAs by using a single delivery model for both EBPs; and reducing the number of adolescents entering care or custody and the associated costs.