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Home > What works: sharing knowledge, improving children’s futures.

Dillon, Lucy (2019) What works: sharing knowledge, improving children’s futures. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 71, Autumn 2019 , p. 9.

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The initiative of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), What Works: Sharing Knowledge, Improving Children’s Futures, was launched by Minister Katherine Zappone on 19 June 2019. The event brought together key stakeholders in policy, provision, and practice communities.

What Works is a rebrand of the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative (QCBI) that DCYA has been developing since 2016. What Works seeks to embed and enhance knowledge and quality in prevention and early intervention in children and young people’s policy, service provision, and practice. There is a number of core strands to this work, including a data working strand; an evidence working strand; a professional development and capacity-building working strand; and finally a quality working strand.

 

Data working strand

The data working strand aims to improve access and use of data and information relating to children, young people, and their families by aligning and developing what currently exists in this area. The Outcomes for Children Data & Information Hub – https://outcomes4children.tusla.ie – which was also launched on 19 June, sets out to deliver on this aim. It aims to provide a sustainable, standardised technical solution for mapping outcomes and indicators for children and young people to aid in service planning, design, and delivery. It has been developed by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in conjunction with DCYA. It is publicly accessible and provides a web-based platform to visualise published data sets.

 

Evidence working strand

The evidence working strand aims to harness the learning from prevention and early intervention initiatives and research in order to actively support the use of this learning as a source and resource to inform planning, delivery, evaluation, and continuous improvements. This aim is in part met by the launch on 19 June of a dedicated website – https://whatworks.gov.ie – which sets out to be a ‘go to’ source on what works best in prevention and early intervention in improving outcomes for children, young people, and their families. It is planned as a knowledge-exchange platform through which information on practice approaches, toolkits, practice guides, professional learning opportunities, and interventions and programmes can be accessed. However, an ‘evidence matrix’1 continues to be in the planning phase; this will involve the design of an ‘open access online guide/clearinghouse which will provide details and rated assessment of the costs and standards of evidence of impact of prevention and early intervention evidence based programmes globally and in Ireland’ (p. 3).1

 

Professional development and capacity-building working strand

The professional development and capacity-building working strand sets out to enhance the capacity and skills development of policymakers, providers, and practitioners in the appraisal and application of evidence-informed approaches in prevention and early intervention for children and young people through capacity building and development. The planned output under this working strand has evolved from being a standardised module of training in prevention and early intervention to a broader range of supports aimed at professional groupings in areas of need. A learning framework is under development but some of the related activities have been initiated. For example, DCYA’s partnership with the University of Limerick in the Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice Project delivers short, focused executive leadership programmes in geographic/practice communities across Ireland. Action Learning Workshops with DCYA grantees have also been delivered.

 

Quality working strand

The quality working strand sets out to align, enhance, and sustain quality in prevention and early intervention as it relates to the development and delivery of policy, provision, and practice for children and young people. Development work is ongoing under this strand.

 

1 Department of Children and Youth Affairs (2018) Request for tenders 27 April 2018 for the development of evidence matrix for the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative. Dublin: Department of Children and Youth Affairs. https://www.drugsandalcohol.ie/29299/

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