Developing local approaches to improve services for minority ethnic children & families

Developing local approaches to improve services for minority ethnic children & families

Highlights

This report looks at what works to improve service accessibility, experience and outcomes for minority ethnic children and families. It involved 90 Local Authorities and reviewed support improvements across three themes. The report finds that LAs should develop a shared understanding of strengths and weaknesses, and work with families, voluntary groups, local communities and other organisations to develop an offer that meets diverse needs.

It also found a need to increase the profile of REDIE work and provide EDIE leadership to local areas to promote it in family support.

Further research should focus on synthesis to understand what works for specific groups and further work to fill evidence gaps.

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Summary

This exploratory qualitative research raises questions about what works to improve service accessibility, experience and outcomes for minority ethnic children and families, and can provide a foundation for future work in this area.

The report identifies three themes which describe how the 90 local areas which participated in this research aim to improve service accessibility, experiences and outcomes for minority ethnic children and their families.

  1. Meeting the needs of local communities
  2. A workforce that can support diverse communities
  3. Using evidence to support minority ethnic children and families.

Why we use the term ‘minority ethnic’

Throughout this report, we use the descriptor ‘minority ethnic’ as an adjective, for example, ‘minority ethnic family’. In this report, we do not use acronyms such as ‘BAME’ or ‘BME’ that do not reflect the heterogeneity that exists across and within communities. Where possible, we are specific and refer to individual ethnic groups. Where participants have used terminology that differs from our principles, we have retained these terms. This is as per language principles previously developed by EIF available here: https://www.eif.org.uk/about/edi-at-eif/our-principles-for-language-and-writing. Foundations is developing updated language principles.

Aims

It is important to ensure that family support services work for families from all ethnic groups. This report explores a variety of actions, initiatives, and practices that local areas and their partners have developed with the aim of meeting the needs of minority ethnic children and families.

Method

This work was informed by qualitative research – a survey and two rounds of focus groups – that involved over 90 stakeholders from local areas in six regions. Stakeholders shared information about ongoing activities, raised open questions, and highlighted challenges in improving REDIE in family support services. Stakeholders included:

  • local authority staff, such as service leads, heads of service, managers, practitioners and directors from various teams and departments, including early help, edge of care, social care, education, housing, SEND, reducing parental conflict, parenting, safeguarding and health
  • stakeholders working for a range of organisations involved with the planning or provision of services for children and families, such as: NHS, police, community and voluntary sector, and other service providers including for parenting, domestic abuse and mental health, and evaluation partners and parent champions.

Key Findings

The report identifies three themes which describe how the local areas which participated in this research aim to improve service accessibility, experiences and outcomes for minority ethnic children and their families.

1. Meeting the needs of local communities, which covers:

  • how to engage communities and build trust
  • different ways of responding to families’ and children’s individual needs
  • ways of working with community and voluntary sector organisations.

2. A workforce that can support diverse communities, which covers:

  • driving organisational culture change
  • embedding REDIE in the workplace
  • changing practice through training and staff development
  • building a workforce that’s representative of the local community.

3. Using evidence to support minority ethnic children and families, which covers:

  • how to consider REDIE in local needs assessments
  • understanding outcomes how to collect, analyse and interpret data.
  • understanding who is accessing services
  • hearing families’ views
  • understanding outcomes
  • how to collect, analyse and interpret data.

Local authorities and their partners can seek to strengthen their own arrangements for improving service accessibility, experiences and outcomes for minority ethnic families by:

  • Developing a shared understanding of strengths and weaknesses of current provision, including gathering feedback from families about their experiences
  • Working with families, community leaders, and community and voluntary sector organisations to develop a support offer that is responsive to the diverse needs of children and families
  • Evaluating any agreed improvements to service design or delivery.

Implications for Policy

National government can play a key role in creating the conditions which enable local areas to develop equitable family support offers, including by:

  • Raising and maintaining the profile of work focused on race equality, diversity, inclusion and equity – for example by emphasising the need for equitable service design, and explicit considerations of equality, diversity and inclusion in any family policy
  • Providing national leadership on ways local areas can promote REDIE in family support
  • Building local capacity through an explicit focus on the key functions and roles which drive forward REDIE efforts, such as EDIE leads, but also analysts that can interrogate local data to understand what works and where improvements are needed
  • Focusing on evidence by incentivising the collection and analysis of local data to understand how local support is working for minority ethnic children and families.

Implications for future research

Research organisations and funders of research should commit to building the evidence base of what works to support minority ethnic children and families. An evidence gap map could lay out what we do and don’t know about improving outcomes for different UK minority ethnic groups. The evidence gap map could systematically capture research on the effectiveness of various activities, including outreach, targeted interventions or wider workforce training. Beyond setting out how much we know about the impact of different interventions, such an evidence gap map could inform further work, for example:

  • Synthesis to understand what works for specific ethnic groups to improve a particular outcome, or to understand whom selected services (such as parenting support) have evidence of working for
  • Purposive evidence generation to fill selected evidence gaps – for example where selected interventions have good evidence of improving outcomes but it is unclear whether an approach works for all ethnic groups.

Evaluators can apply an EDIE lens throughout the entire research process. To embed EDIE in evaluations, researchers may need to reflect on:

  • How the source of funding and the experiences of the research team may shape what research questions are prioritised and what methodology is selected
  • How research questions could address the perspectives, experiences and outcomes of specific demographic groups
  • What methodology applied, including when, how and by whom each step will be undertaken.
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