Prevention and early intervention
As highlighted in section 1, Scottish Government policy has embraced a shift to prevention and early intervention. This section focuses on these key issues in the third sector organisations supported by the CYPFEI & ALEC Fund. It presents baseline findings from the self-assessment survey plus a summary of relevant discussions with the sample of funded organisations, Policy Officers and stakeholders.
Third sector survey respondents confirmed the importance of prevention and early intervention to their organisations, rating it 9.3 out of 10. The extent to which these issues have so far been embedded in the delivery of organisations' core services was also rated very highly (8.7), although slightly lower than their importance.
|On a scale of one to ten, please rate…||Average rating|
|The importance of prevention and early intervention to your organisation||9.3|
|The extent to which prevention and early intervention are embedded in the delivery your organisation's core services||8.7|
A number of funded organisations stated that prevention and early intervention are very important to third sector organisations, with some stating it is why the organisations exist. For example, one stated:
"That's what we do - by definition". (Third sector funded organisation).
Policy Officers and funded organisations were generally of the opinion that the core services supported by CYPFEI & ALEC fund are focused on prevention and early intervention. A number of examples were provided including a third sector organisation that is using part of its grant to support a core service which delivers social and emotional development in primary schools using an internationally recognised and independently validated approach. Another consultee highlighted the Fund's support of organisations that promote children's rights as contributing strongly to prevention.
Consultees also suggested that the Fund's support for infrastructure costs - as opposed to core services - would help them to focus on early intervention and prevention by freeing time and resources to address the issues.
The contribution of third sector intermediaries to the prevention and early intervention agenda was also highlighted. It was suggested that these intermediaries provide information, training, development, communications and support on prevention and early intervention that showcase best practice and strengthen organisations' ability to address these issues.
A number of consultees suggested that some organisations may not necessarily regard their activity as prevention and early intervention, despite it being so. For example, a stakeholder and a Policy Officer independently highlighted the work of uniformed youth groups as being preventative without it necessarily being recognised as such by the majority of those delivering it. Although not viewed as a significant issue, it was also suggested that some organisations are not particularly good at capturing their impact in this area, potentially to their detriment. The challenge of attributing longer term impact to activity was also noted.
Some of the third sector survey respondents emphasised that their work is part of a much wider prevention and early intervention process involving other third sector organisations, as well as statutory agencies. Statutory organisations are viewed as having a decisive impact on individual outcomes and some third sector organisations highlighted their role in seeking to influence statutory agencies and other providers, sharing their knowledge of the value of earlier referral/intervention (and the potential negative effects of later referral/intervention).
"Our research and partnerships teams do significant work with professionals to raise awareness about the links [with other issues] to try to ensure an effective prevention/early intervention approach in other agencies as well as our own". (Third sector funded organisation).
Several third sector survey respondents commented on the difficulties of trying to balance reactive work (dealing with existing problems and crisis situations), with proactive, longer-term work aimed at preventing or reducing future problems. For some, financial pressures make this more difficult, and the Coalition of Care and Support Providers ( CCSP) is undertaking research to examine the extent to which early intervention services among its members are being affected by budget reductions.
"The sector in general is struggling enormously to cope with demand. A lot of the early intervention services are seeing drastic funding cuts and at the same time organisations are being funded to work with a family on a set of problems but in reality they have much more protracted and serious set of problems. So, on the one hand third sector organisations 100%, completely understand early intervention and focus on that as part of their ethos, however in practice it's being more and more difficult as funding is being pulled from less crisis management projects". (Third sector funded organisation).
"Most of our users come to us when things have gone wrong with other services, and/or the family is already experiencing some kind of crisis. Therefore, much of our initial work is often focused on resolving current problems, after which we can take a more 'preventative' approach". (Third sector funded organisation).
"We attempt to deal with 'the problem' … as well as trying to intervene to prevent it from repeating. It feels like our resources are spread quite thin to operate on these two fronts at once". (Third sector funded organisation).
Email: Steven Fogg
Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House