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Stop moaning, and Start Measuring

Stop moaning, and start measuring, says Social Services Outcomes Researcher

The vacuous cries emanating from various Social Service agencies, bemoaning the fact that they have restrictions on funding is becoming tiresome and ultimately unnecessary, says a Social Services Outcomes Researcher.

Steve Taylor, Director of 24-7 Ltd, is responding to the Salvation Army, the Council of Christian Social Services, the Mangere Budgeting Service, the Federation of Family Budgeting Services, and Refugee Services Aotearoa media scare-mongering regarding not being able to provide efficient services for a reported increasing clientele as a result of the 2012 Budget.

“As a private practitioner who deliberately attracts no Government funding, the only avenue I have in order to survive in providing Social Services to clients is to be excellent at what I do, and the best way to assure excellence is to measure client outcomes – sadly, almost no Social Service agencies in the country do this well, and in fact many agencies actively shy away from doing so – and yet these same agencies expect the Government to just give them money, simply because they exist, and are providing a service” says Mr Taylor.

“I would have thought that we would have learnt after 14 years of Family Start, paying $30 million dollars a year for a programme that has never been able to demonstrate any positive client outcomes, that simply paying for “throughput” is possibly the most inefficient way for the Government to fund Social Services – but No, now the Government is now funding $30 million a year for Whanau Ora, which is essentially Family Start by another name. The Government again confuses “throughput” with “outcome”, and doesn’t hold publically funded Social Service agencies to any meaningful account for the funds invested”.

“So, for example, given that a recent Centre for Social Justice Report http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/client/media/Talking%20Therapies.pdf showed an 85% failure rate for state-funded talk therapy, it would be reasonable to now require Social Service agencies in New Zealand to only receive funding based on the positive outcomes they secured with clients, or “Payment By Results”, and these outcomes need to be measured, not from the agencies perspective, but from the clients perspective, the actual receiver of the services being funded” says Mr Taylor.

“”It’s all about incentive – and frankly, most Social Service agencies in New Zealand have little or no incentive to improve their client outcomes, because regardless of the client outcome, the agency gets funded anyway – no wonder most services are utterly inefficient, and keep running out of cash”.

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