A new report co-authored by a PenARC researcher has been published by the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) to help inform evaluation practices within youth services and help reduce youth violence.
The report, co-authored by Dr Nick Axford and colleagues at the Centre for Youth Impact and Dartington Service Design Lab, explored the work of 129 youth organisations supported by YEF COVID-19 grants, and now offers key recommendations to build skills and awareness in evaluation within these services.
The research found that youth service provision was not consistently well-defined and often lacked an evaluation plan. Grantees reported not having enough time to think about and plan for evaluation, and some felt they didn’t have sufficient knowledge and skills in evaluation. There was also a potential disconnect between how grantees and funders thought about evaluation.
Dr Nick Axford, PenARC Implementation Lead and Associate Professor in Health Services Research, University of Plymouth, said:
“To address these issues, we recommend investing in helping youth sector organisations to evaluate and be evaluated. This includes developing long-term learning agendas that can be supported by funders and building basic evaluation understanding and skills within these organisations.
“We also recommend rethinking how evaluation is understood and practised in the youth sector. This includes exploring a wider range of questions and methods and encouraging more rapid and iterative approaches to generating and using evidence.
“We think this will help ensure that evaluation generates learning that can be used to improve services for young people. This applies in a rapidly-changing context such as the COVID-19 pandemic, but also under comparably better times.”
The report was written in collaboration with the Youth Endowment Fund, Dartington
Service Design Lab, Centre for Youth Impact, Research in Practice, and the University of Plymouth.
The full report including recommendations is now available online and free to download:
Evaluation in Times of Uncertainty: Applying Learning from COVID-19 Report (PDF, 1.07MB)