Background:The focus of governments – federal, state and local – on evidence-based policy making (EBPM) has concentrated attention on using evaluations to identify ‘best-practice’ policy interventions in particular settings which can be ‘scaled up’ and ‘emulated’ or ‘rolled out’ in other settings (Cairney 2016)(1). Recent writing on EBPM has highlighted the diversity of approaches that can be taken to gathering evidence and using it to draw conclusions about ‘what works’ and what could be valuably ‘scaled up’. Paul Cairney’s work in this regard (2016) proved germane to a project undertaken by the author to document and analyse evidence regarding parent support interventions trialled by the Children’s Resources Unit (CRU) in Wyndham City Council, in Melbourne Australia.
Objectives:The aims of the project (conducted in July-August 2016) were to:
• Document parent-support interventions developed by CRU staff
• Establish evidence of what had worked, and why
• Develop clear objectives, outputs and outcomes for the future
• Clarify a process for ongoing review of the family support interventions and assessing the extent to which service elements achieve effective outcomes for parents.
Methods:The paper argues the approach used by the CRU to document ‘real world’ practice-based evidence is similar to what Cairney describes as ‘the Scottish Approach’ to policy making, which favours encouraging government professionals to draw on established expertise and a mix of evidence and to experiment with projects in their local areas.
Results:The paper shows how such an approach helped establish evidence not only for improving the effectiveness of local-level integrated service interventions but also building the larger evidence base of ‘what works’ in improving outcomes for children and families.
Conclusions:It concludes by suggesting a multi-dimensional evidence-informed decision-making framework like that proposed by Moore (2016) could facilitate partnership approaches to co-designing, co-delivering and co-evaluating interventions so they are consistent with client or family needs, manageable for the family and are effective in achieving agreed objectives.