Evaluation of the Face to Face service Using a solution-focused approach with children and young people in care or on the edge of care

Boy talking to practitionerThe Face to Face service seeks to support children and young people between 5 to 18 years who are in care or on the edge of care. It aims to identify and find solutions to issues that are affecting their life, impacting on their emotional wellbeing or placing them at risk.

This report summarises qualitative and quantitative findings from the evaluation. It includes measures in the change in wellbeing for children and young people at the end of the service and three months later. It also includes findings from in-depth interviews with young people, foster carers and referring agencies. This is part of our Impact and evidence series.

Authors: Prakash Fernandes
Published: 2015

Overall, the evidence indicates that Face to Face is a promising approach to helping children and young people in care or on the edge of care make reliable improvements to their own emotional wellbeing.

  • Before receiving the Face to Face service, 58% of children and young people had wellbeing scores indicating clinical levels of distress, but by the end of their sessions this had reduced to only 15% of children.
  • In total almost 60% of all children and young people showed a reliable improvement in their levels of wellbeing at the end of the service.
  • Of the children who were most in need at beginning the service - those with clinical levels of distress - 70% showed reliable improvement and ended the service with normal levels of wellbeing.
  • 73% of children and young people said that Face to Face had helped them to solve the immediate concern that was affecting their emotional wellbeing.
  • 3 months after finishing their last Face to Face session, the improved wellbeing of 84% of children and young people was sustained.
  • Children and young people said that the Face to Face service had helped by:
    • listening to them
    • being confidential
    • encouraging them to reflect on issues
    • focusing on their strengths
    • giving them control over the process
    • and by rehearsing strategies to solve their problems.
  • Referrers and foster carers found the referral process easy and were able to see the changes in the young person. They would like to have been more involved in joint sessions with the child at the end of the work and would like to see the service expanded to all children in need.
  • The findings indicate that there is a gap in provision and that a short, solution-focused intervention can help address the needs of children and young people.

Overall, the evidence indicates that Face to Face is a promising approach to helping children and young people in care or on the edge of care. However, the evaluation did not include a comparison group, so further research is required to be confident that the improvements in outcomes are a direct result of the Face to Face service.

Acknowledgements 5
Key findings: young people's version 6
Key findings 7
Executive summary 8
Chapter 1: Introduction 12
Chapter 2: Changes in wellbeing 19
Chapter 3: Children and young people’s experiences of change 26
Chapter 4: How Face to Face helped 33
Chapter 5: Conclusion 42
Bibliography 43

"Yeah, I had like issues in school in that I was kicking off and used to run out. And one time I got  suspended but after meeting (NSPCC worker) my attitude has changed now.  My head teacher has noticed that because before I used to go to his office every single day because I was naughty.  I kept running out the classroom and being bad, but now I only go to the office to get like prizes, certificates and that."

"Sometimes he'll become the social worker and I'll try to talk to him and we do it like that. My feelings are never really changed but I think slowly – he gives me ways to talk to them, which makes me kind of get somewhere without getting angry. Before when I got angry, I would swear and just lose my temper but he's given me like techniques to talk to them (social workers) in like the appropriate way that makes them listen."

Please cite as: Fernandes, P. (2015)  Evaluation of the Face to Face service: using a solution-focused approach with children and young people in care or on the edge of care. London: NSPCC.

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