As part of the Aiming High for Disabled Children programme, the Department for Children, Schools and Families is making a significant investment in short breaks for disabled children and their families. This increased investment has started in 21 Pathfinder local authority sites across England, with a national roll-out following one year later.
The Department for Children, Schools and Families has commissioned the Centre for Disability Research at Lancaster University (CeDR) and the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) to evaluate the Aiming High for Disabled Children Short Breaks Pathfinder Programme and to investigate the impact of short breaks on disabled children and their families.
The NDTi are leading on the evaluation of the Pathfinder Programme, using a 'realist evaluation' method, which goes beyond asking "Does this programme work?" to ask: "How does this project work, in this particular situation, with these groups of people and why?". Phase 1 of the evaluation will capture the early progress of Pathfinder sites by reviewing documents, conducting interviews and discussion groups and using information from other parts of the project. For each Pathfinder site, we will produce, share and test CMO maps of the local Contexts (e.g. key environmental factors and population characteristics), Mechanisms (different types of local provision) and Outcomes (different data sources, participants' feedback, case studies etc). Interim findings from Phase 1 will be tested in more depth in Phase 2 using intensive case studies with families and the facilitation of clusters of Pathfinder sites to tease out how contexts and mechanisms contribute to positive outcomes. An additional part of our evaluation is to investigate how the actual provision of short breaks for families with a disabled child in Pathfinder sites compares to the likely population need for short breaks in each area. These parts of the project should be complete by the end of May 2010.
CeDR are taking the lead on researching the impact of short breaks on the well-being of families with a disabled child. We will investigate impact in a number of ways, beginning with a comprehensive review of existing research and asking families with a disabled child in their own words what the major issues are for them in using short breaks. These parts of the project should be complete by the end of October 2009. We will also conduct a brief survey of over 1,000 families with a disabled child to get a broader snapshot of how families are experiencing short breaks and how the use of short breaks relates to family well-being. This part of the project should be complete by the end of September 2010. Finally, for 200 families who have been newly offered short breaks, we will be following them over a 12-month period to find out what short breaks they have used and what impact these short breaks have had on the well-being of family carers, disabled children and siblings over the 12 months. Using the same method, we will also follow 200 families already using short breaks over a 12-month period to find out what impact the longer-term use of short breaks has on family well-being. This part of the project of the project should be complete by the end of March 2011.
If you want to know more about the research project, please contact Professor Chris Hatton at the Centre for Disability Research, Lancaster University.
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
By phone: 01524 592823 (Chris Hatton)
By post: Centre for Disability Research, Division of Health Research, Lancaster University, Lancaster, LA1 4YT