When early exit from a programme signals success
Despite leaving the programme prior to completion, there was a range of positive outcomes which practitioners felt had been facilitated by the families' engagement with the programme.
- safer home environment
- improved responsiveness to a child's needs
- more effective behaviour management
- better family relationships
- improvements relating to structured play activities
- increased knowledge of appropriate care when a child's sick or injured
In these cases, the decision to leave the programme didn't represent the failure of the programme, the provider or the parent(s).
On the contrary, the needs of these parents has been satisfied by the programme. They had made progress and, or, been able to access sufficient support to enable them to manage their needs, and those of their family, appropriately in the future.
They had made what could be considered a healthy, informed and appropriate decision to exit the programme early, prior to completion.
Attrition has been recognised as a significant problem facing social care programmes for many years.
Despite growing interest in the rates and causes of attrition, I believe we may have been missing a vital component in our discussions. The recognition that not all attrition is negative.
As we strive for a more in-depth understanding into the reasons for engagement and early programme departure, the challenge for future studies will be how to define and differentiate positive from negative attrition.