Missing numbers in children’s services

This report, from UK think tank the Institute for Government looks at how better data could improve outcomes for children and young people.

Better data matters. It can shape better services. It can mean better lives. This report written by the Institute for Government, in partnership with Nesta, explores what data is available on children’s centres and youth services, and how government might overcome the barriers they face improving this data. Investment in preventive ‘upstream’ services, such as children’s centres and youth services, can improve outcomes for children and young people while also reducing demand for more expensive ‘downstream’ services, such as children’s social care. But the report finds that the lack of consistently good-quality data restricts the ability of frontline staff, local authorities and central government to understand what works and therefore to intervene in an evidence-based way. Much of the data that is key to making more effective decisions in children’s services is held in a siloed and fragmented nature across central government, local authorities and their delivery partners. This, combined with other issues, inhibits the public sector from using data in a comprehensive way for policy making, service delivery and evaluation. The report makes a number of recommendations on identifying data demand, identifying data supply, conducting a full analysis of what gaps there are in the data, and initiating data transformation projects.

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