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Evaluation of local projects funded by Youth Justice Board Development Fund
In the Spring of 1999, the Youth Justice Board (YJB) invited applications from the new Youth Offending Teams (Yots) - in partnership with other statutory and voluntary agencies - to provide services to young offenders and their families, with the overall aim of preventing or reducing youth offending. More than 200 projects in total were funded, varying considerably in size, scope and target group. These were organised into seven broad programmes of interventions: Supported Accommodation; Restorative Justice; Mentoring; Drugs and Alcohol; Cognitive Behaviour; Employment, Education and Training; and, Parenting. In addition to funding a national evaluation of each programme, the YJB required every local project to be independently evaluated. The Policy Research Bureau (PRB) was commissioned by six Yots to conduct the independent evaluation of the following ten local YJB Development Fund projects:
What did the research focus on?
While each of the evaluations had a number of specific objectives tailored to the requirements of the individual project, the over-riding aim in each case was to assess the impact of the intervention on the offending and risk-taking behaviour of young people.
In addition to this primary aim, the evaluations also focused on the process of implementing the projects, considering, for example, the content and delivery of each intervention; target groups; referral and recruitment; numbers and throughput; and some measure of client satisfaction with the intervention.
What did the research involve?
Although the details varied according to local circumstances, a similar pattern of data collection took place in most cases consisting of 'baseline' data collected as individuals were introduced to a project, followed by 'impact' data collected on exit. Data were collected from young people, parents, Yot and project workers as appropriate. Qualitative as well as quantitative methods were employed.
The extent to which PRB was directly involved in data collection and reporting varied from project to project. In all cases, however, the local evaluations were conducted in full consultation with, and following guidelines laid down by, the national evaluators of each programme of interventions.
Timescale and final products of the research
All the local evaluations commenced in Autumn 1999, and reported to the Yots concerned in March 2002. In addition, findings from each local evaluation were fed into the relevant national programme evaluation (each of which reported to the YJB in March 2002).