Keep Them Safe included a commitment to progressively evaluate implementation of the Keep Them Safe: A shared approach to child wellbeing Action Plan over its five years and the effects of the new child protection system on outcomes for children, young people, and their families.
In December 2009 the Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and the Australian Institute of Family Studies were engaged to develop the overall Evaluation Framework for Keep Them Safe. In developing the Framework, SPRC conducted broad-ranging consultations with government agencies, non-government organisations, peak bodies and advisory groups. A list of consultation informants can be found in Volume 2 of the Evaluation Framework Report.
The Evaluation Framework (Volume 1 – Report and Volume 2 – Annexes), which was completed in August 2010, sets out an evaluation program that recognises the complex nature of the Keep Them Safe reforms and its multiple program areas. The Evaluation Framework also takes into account the breadth and diversity of the government and non-government service systems associated with Keep Them Safe. In addition to considering the overall effectiveness of Keep Them Safe, the Framework was designed to guide evaluation of the relative impacts of different programs and their inter-relationships.
The Framework is comprehensive and proposes broadly-scoped, integrated evaluation activities. Further work was required to prioritise the activities and the application of proposed key performance indicators. Accordingly, in August 2010, the Keep Them Safe Senior Officers Group requested that the Department of Premier and Cabinet seek independent advice to prioritise actions contained in the Evaluation Framework and develop a four year implementation plan for delivering the Evaluation. In October 2010 Urbis Pty Ltd were engaged to develop an Implementation Plan.
The Implementation Plan, which was finalised in April 2011, focuses evaluation activity on measuring outcomes that can be attributed specifically to the Keep Them Safe reforms. In particular, it seeks to measure outcomes for targeted population groups, and the movement of families through the service system, which is comprised of universal services, targeted early intervention and prevention programs for vulnerable and at-risk families, and statutory services for families where risk of significant harm exists.
The Justice and Human Services CEOs Forum endorsed both the Evaluation Framework and the Implementation Plan at their 16 June 2011 meeting. They also endorsed the Implementation Plan’s proposed methodology and evaluation governance arrangements.
A Keep Them Safe Evaluation Steering Committee is currently being established. It will be comprised of representatives from the government and non-government sector and will oversee the Keep Them Safe evaluation and finalise evaluation performance indicators. Systematic evaluation of Keep Them Safe initiatives will begin in late 2011.