The National Evaluation of the ABC Programme

CES has been contracted by the Programme funders, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) and the Atlantic Philanthropies (AP), to support the implementation and conduct the evaluation of the Area Based Childhood (ABC) Programme.  An evaluation of the national ABC Programme is being conducted by the Centre for Effective Services.  The national evaluation explores:

  • The achievement of individual outcomes for children aged 3 years and older and their families
  • The achievement of implementation outcomes such as the degree to which the integration of ABC interventions and approaches into mainstream services has been achieved and the success of Areas in achieving greater interagency working and collaboration
  • Cost analysis of the interventions delivered across the Areas

The evaluation of the ABC Programme is concerned with the evaluation of the national programme.  Data will be collected locally at the Area-level so as to assess the success and effectiveness of the totality of the investment across the five broad outcomes of the Programme.  Three national Programme outcomes concern the achievement of outcomes for individual children and their parents participating in ABC-funded services:

  1. Improved child health and development
  2. Improved children’s learning
  3. Improved parenting

The remaining two outcomes are concerned with achieving systems change among service providers:

  1. Integrated service delivery
  2. Services embedded in mainstream services

From which three over-arching evaluation questions emerge:

  1. How did the outcomes for children and families in ABC Areas change? 
  • Did outcomes for children, parents, and families who received services under the ABC Programme improve e.g. parenting; learning; or child health and development?
  • What was the reach1 of services funded under the ABC programme in ABC Areas?
  • Were there any changes in Area-level outcomes i.e. what outcomes were achieved for the population in that Area e.g. parenting; learning; or child health and development?
  1. To what extent did the ABC Programme make progress in implementing evidence-informed programmes and approaches in the ABC Areas?
  • Did ABC Areas implement services consistently with the objectives of the ABC Programme?
  • Did characteristics of service provision funded under the ABC Programme improve, including service reach and access; service coordination and connectivity, and inter-agency working?
  • What strategies were successful or ineffective in achieving and sustaining change in service delivery?
  1. What costs were associated with the services provided under the ABC Programme?
  • What were the costs of service delivery?
  • What has been the expenditure by services funded under the ABC Programme?
  • What leveraging of other resources have Areas been able to secure?

A key objective of the evaluation of the ABC Programme is to promote and embed a culture of using data to inform decision-making at the operational, management and strategic levels within the local Areas.


1 ‘Reach’ in this context is understood as the extent to which organisations are engaging with the target population for their service(s)