Thursday, December 18th, 2014

What makes early intervention more effective?

The government is so tentative about funding early action schemes, even if it is acknowledged that a pound spent on prevention or early intervention ends up saving the government money in the long term. Participating in the Guardian Live Chat on this issue, Dr. Theo Gavrielides, IARS Founder and Director, expressed his point of view on some key aspects of early interventions.

IARS remains concerned as to whether children and young people are being supported to lead on building evidence base policy on early interventions. As service providers develop their knowledge on what is credible evidence, user led methodologies are becoming some of the most reliable in-depth tools for building an evidence base for social policy. "It is one thing talking about or on behalf of young people and another young people talking about what they need and want".

Talking about the government's budget for early intervention measures, Prof. Gavrielides underlined that resources are not only found in central government departments but also in civic society and elsewhere. For instance, just last year Big Lottery invested £25 million for an early intervention programme titled “Realising Ambition”. Similar initiatives can be seen with Comic Relief etc. So his fear is not really the lack of resources but rather the way the available resources are being spent.

This fear is shared by Anne Longfield, trustee of new Early Intervention Foundation and chief executive of 4Children, who replying to him said: “I agree informed and intelligent spending will be key - we are talking about a wholesale change to the way support is delivered to prevent crisis and intergenerational problems rather than manage them”. In regard to this “more data sharing is a key aspect; it is important that all funded projects share their knowledge, findings and learnings” Theo Gavrielides said.

Furthermore, we are concerned with the current emphasis on correction: “Even the word prevention takes us down to paths of putting things right. From my experience when starting from a more positive place, young people respond a lot more constructively”.See for example the youth led 99% Campaign.

Many have argued that youth violence, inequality and underachievement are consequences of a failing society and social injustice, but he argued instead that these failures are not due to lack of resources and an uneven distribution of wealth. They are due to the acceptance of prejudice and despair as natural modern phenomena. This acceptance creates “disadvantage thinking” and policies, law and practices that are shaped to reach targets within this negative framework. A vicious circle of defeatism is created. As a way forward, “positive thinking” should be encouraged through a user‐led movement of positive social engagement.

"For any individual to develop their potential and thrive, first a sense of self‐pride and a set of personal goals are needed. Remove these and independently of the social, societal, biological, political factors that may be evoked, we should expect to see a life of underachievement and likely criminality. We develop these goals and aspirations though a mixture of factors such as our parents, role models, our peers and teachers. But we first have to believe in ourselves”. Theo Gavrielides

IARS is a partner with the Anne Frank Trust for the delivery of a 5 year project for the Big Lottery’s Realising Ambition Programme.

Click here to find several resources on early intervention made available by NAVCA.

To find out more about the Early Intervention Foundation to be led by 4Children and LGA consortium please click here.

More information on the Live Chat can be found here.

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