Launch of the Report on an Indicator Set for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures
Dr Fergal Lynch, Secretary General
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
27th September 2017
Chartered Accountants House, Pearse Street.
You are all very welcome here this afternoon to the launch of the Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures (BOBF) indicator set.
I am delighted to launch the report on behalf of Minister Zappone, who I know is very disappointed not to be here this afternoon.
As many of you here today are aware, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures represents the first overarching national children’s policy framework covering the age ranges spanning children and young people (0 – 24 years). It adopts a whole of Government approach and will be underpinned by a number of constituent strategies in the areas of early years, youth and participation.
The BOBF indicator set presented here today is developed to align to the five national outcomes of BOBF and specifically as a resource to support the ongoing implementation of BOBF and its constituent strategies.
The BOBF policy framework included a commitment to develop an extensive set of indicators to reflect a broader picture of children and young people’s lives and to enable us to track progress more fully across the aims related to each of the five outcomes under BOBF. This report fulfils this commitment.
THE BOBF INDICATOR REPORT
The report being launched today presents an Indicator Set for Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures.
The set has been finalised following an extensive development and consultation process, which involved input and expertise from many of you present here today, I want to thank you for your contribution.
Through this process, key priority areas and relevant indicators were identified under each outcome and aim of BOBF.
Also included in the report are recent high-level summary data on each indicator, as well as detailed information on each indicator and related data source.
It is widely recognised that robust data is essential for the development of evidence-based policy and services, indeed one of the key points noted in the most recent BOBF annual report is the importance of using evidence and data when making policy decisions, and to keep the focus on tangible outcomes for children.
THE IMPORTANCE OF INDICATORS
To this end, indicators are useful and important because they
• serve to signal whether expected results are being achieved.
• can be used to raise awareness and understanding of key issues, as well as the reported experiences of children and young people, across the BOBF outcomes.
• can support us to monitor progress across a range of activities, outputs and outcomes identified as important to BOBF and to lives of children and young people.
We also hope the set of indicators identified in this report can be a resource for colleagues in other Departments with policy agendas relating to children and young people, and they can be aligned with or help inform existing strategies or strategies in development.
I note the planned development and publication of more disaggregated data on the BOBF indicators by important demographic characteristics (such as sex and geography), as well as for subgroups of the population (such as members of the Traveller community) will be relevant to other strategies, for example the National Traveller Roma Inclusion Strategy (2017-21), the National Strategy for Women and Girls (2017-20) and the National Migrant Integration Strategy (2017-21). All of these strategies have a range of actions across Government that target addressing disadvantages experienced by children in these categories.
As reflected in the report, while indicators do not answer the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of particular findings or trends, they do help up identify key areas where there is need for further consideration, explanation or analysis.
This is particularly important when our policy framework covers such a breadth of policy areas spanning all aspects of the lives of children and young people, while also encompassing children and young people across the age ranges of 0 to 24.
DATA ON CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE
The Department has been actively working to strengthen the availability and accessibility of data on children and young persons, and we are engaged in a number of on-going projects which support this.
In addition to the development of the BOBF indicator set as presented here today, further work will be undertaken towards the development and publication of disaggregated data on each of the BOBF indicators by important demographic characteristics and subgroups of the population. It is intended that this will be published in a user friendly and easily accessible electronic format.
Similarly, plans are in train for the future publication of data from the State of the Nation’s Children (SONC) in this same electronic format thus enabling users to access more up to date information, while also supporting our commitment to the Open Data Initiative.
A departmental data needs analysis is currently underway within DCYA, the results of which will contribute to the development and implementation of a more centralised DCYA departmental approach to the storage and management of data for research, evaluation, monitoring and planning purposes. This work will also support us in our efforts to enhance our contribution to open data.
As many of you are aware, the Department funds and oversees Growing Up in Ireland: The National Longitudinal Study of Children. Growing Up in Ireland focuses on developmental trajectories of the same children over time and provides an excellent source of data with which to engage in more detailed analysis to support interpretation and explanation.
Further analysis of Growing Up in Ireland data, or indeed other survey data, can thus provide critical insights into the factors associated with particular outcomes for children and young people. This is a point I know Alan Barrett will speak on in his closing remarks.
I also note that TUSLA, the Child and Family Agency, are developing an Outcomes for Children: National Data & Information Hub. This is co funded between the Department and Tusla under the Quality and Capacity Building Initiative (QCBI) and is being piloted with eleven Children and Young People's Services Committees (CYPSC) with the aim of rolling it out across all CYPSC areas in subsequent years. This project is a good example of collaboration between different bodies and stakeholders, and the Department is providing its full support to both Tusla and the CYPSC in this.
CONCLUDING REMARKS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The development of indicator set and the publication of summary level data for the indicators is the result of cross Department and agency cooperation.
I would like to thank the very many people, Government Departments, agencies and experts who contributed.
In particular, I would like to thank
• my colleagues in the DCYA Research and Evaluation Unit, who developed the set, in collaboration with the Centre for Effective Services (CES),
• the Expert Advisory Group
• all those who participated in the Delphi process
• those who participated in bilateral meetings and consultation process
• As well as the many data providers
I would also like to thank everyone involved in the BOBF implementation structures: the Children and Young People’s Policy Consortium, Sponsors Group, Advisory Council, DCYA Implementation Team, and Children and Young People’s Services Committees National Steering Group.