We have seen a lot more evaluation published over the past five years than the previous period, and the world has not fallen apart with the increased capacity to criticise and do better.
We know that healthy families are at the heart of a healthy society. Being part of a family is the most significant socialising influence in a person’s early life. Given that childhood disadvantage strongly predicts negative adult life outcomes, it’s critical that we understand how our children are impacted by the modern world in which we live.
It seems odd to us that the role of families and whānau in developing and maintaining social and cultural capital is overlooked in the terms of reference for the Tax Working Group. Scant attention is paid to the interface of families and whānau with the economy and the tax system. Yet it is this interface that makes it either easier or more difficult to combine family or whānau responsibilities with participation in the economy.
Non-use or misuse of evidence brings huge costs to citizens, by crowding out valuable alternatives as well as increasing the cost that citizens incur in order to get the best they can from services that could have been better designed.
In social services, institutions and politicians appear more likely to have a strong aversion to evaluation and continuous improvement practices that make transparent the imperfection inherent in their decisions and complicate managing political risk.
Whenever getting it wrong can adversely affect citizens as well as benefiting them when getting it right, there needs to be transparency and validation of a standard comparable to that well used in official statistics.
Superu has been just one of several developments of recent years aimed at lifting the evidence base for social services.
The 2016/17 year was one of two quite distinct parts. In the first part, the broad programme of Superu continued to advance apace during the first nine months of the year. Then, since April 2017, we have been in the process of disestablishment.
Social services involve interactions with people that can be fraught and complex: they are often based on partial knowledge of conditions and may involve many partners and inadequate responses. The quality of social services delivery is a vital and undervalued consideration in the selection of social policy choice. Continue reading
Some thoughts on what we need from our social services sector, the limitations imposed upon it and how using evidence and improving numeracy can help.