The evaluation of A Better Start involves three strands of work:

Workstream1: Implementation Evaluation

The implementation evaluation will be conducted in two phases:

  • Phase 1: In the first two years of the contract, when the areas are still setting-up and beginning implementation, a ‘participatory action approach’, will be used with evaluators working collaboratively with the areas to ensure that their models of delivery are functioning optimally, in order to maximise the effectiveness of the programme in subsequent years;
  • Phase 2: In years three to seven of the evaluation, the implementation evaluation, will look at inputs, activities, and outputs in addition to collecting wide-ranging quantitative and qualitative data about implementation systems in order to get a better understanding about the effectiveness of the different models of working adopted by the five areas.

Workstream 2: Impact and Economic Evaluation

The impact of ABS will be measured by tracking a group of families from the areas in addition to a comparable group of similar families living in carefully selected comparison areas – this will tell us about the level of impact ABS has had on families.

The impact evaluation will assess the following in both A Better Start areas and the comparison areas:

  1. At an individual level, short-, medium- and long-term changes for parents and children looking at socio-emotional health; nutrition; and speech, language and learning. This data will be collected through a large scale survey and collection of administrative data. Collection of baseline data for the 'You and Your Child' survey will begin in 2016.
  2. At an area level looking at outcomes across the wider population using administrative data.

Some more scientific data will also be collected for a smaller sub-group of children to look at biometric measures of impact.  Other assessments will be used to look at parent-infant interaction and the home learning environment. All this impact data will be brought together to provide a robust assessment of the programme and what it is achieving.  This will then also be looked at in terms of cost-effectiveness of the programme, both overall and for each area.

Workstream 3: Learning and Dissemination

A programme of activities will also be delivered to ensure outcomes and learning from this vital programme evaluation are promoted and shared amongst interested stakeholders.  This will include capacity building for local partnerships to implement a learning strategy, a series of national conferences, workshops and policy round table sessions and bespoke website and communications activities. To be kept update about the evaluation and upcoming events please sign up for our newsletter.
The evaluation and learning for A Better Start is being delivered by the Warwick Consortium, which brings together leading academic and research organisations.

Meet the full team here