EIF strategy, 2018–2023
Since our establishment as an independent charity in 2013, the Early Intervention Foundation has championed and supported the vital role that effective early intervention plays in improving outcomes for children and young people. And as a member of the government’s What Works Network, EIF has a key role to play in communicating ‘what works’ in a way that is robust and transparent in its use of evidence.
Over the past five years, EIF has built the foundations of a well-regarded and reputable independent organisation, undertaken major studies into key areas of early intervention, and established a valuable body of research and resources. At the same time, a lot has changed in the context in which early intervention is delivered. EIF must continue to learn and adapt, to remain relevant, influential and useful.
Our new strategy, 2018–2023, takes EIF through the second five years of its life. It reflects what we have learned in our own early years, and underlines why so many people continue to work so hard to make effective early intervention a cornerstone of our public services and our society’s approach to supporting children and young people.
Our vision is that all children are able to achieve their full potential.
We know that not all children are fulfilling their full potential and that gaps in children’s development open up early.
These gaps matter for children’s outcomes such as educational attainment, employment prospects and physical or mental health. This has long-term consequences for both the individual child and for society as a whole.
Our mission is to ensure that effective early intervention is available and is used to improve the lives of children and young people at risk of poor outcomes.
Early intervention is effective when it shows evidence of improving outcomes for children and young people.
Of course, evidence is only one consideration in deciding what to deliver. We know that national and local decision-makers need to take other factors into account, such as cost and local context. But, on balance, children and young people who receive early intervention that has been shown through robust methods to improve outcomes are more likely to benefit, and to a greater degree, than those who receive other support.
Effective early intervention works by identifying children who need help and providing effective early support to reduce the risk of problems occurring and to tackle them head-on when they do. It also helps to foster a whole set of personal strengths and skills that prepare a child for adult life.
As a small organisation we will focus our energies where we think we can make the biggest difference.
The areas we work on at EIF will be led by the need to fill gaps in the evidence-base, to ensure evidence of what works is used to change policy and practice, and to explore promising policies, programmes and practices that could make a real difference.
EIF’s audiences are those who have the ability to prioritise and invest in effective early intervention.
To reach these groups, EIF must work to be influential at the national and local level, and to ensure our messages are heard at the frontline. Our audiences include:
- Political leaders, policy-makers, sector bodies, funders and charities at the national level, who the rules of the game – they determine the extent to which early intervention is prioritised and invested in across the country as a whole.
- At the local level, politicians and senior leaders who can set a vision and strategy which mobilises services and resources around the concept of early intervention, and the commissioners and service managers who commission, innovate and evaluate early intervention.
Through influencing national and local audiences, we can shift the actions and decisions of practitioners working at the frontline.
To achieve our mission, we will undertake work in three main areas, which support and inform each other.
1. Making the case
- Developing a new narrative on the social and economic case for early intervention: The case and context for early intervention has changed and evolved since EIF was established. We now need a fresh set of evidence-based arguments that make a new case for early intervention that reflects the realities of the current environment, the nature of the evidence and learning from implementation.
- Working with new champions for early intervention to make the case: We will engage and persuade a new generation of politicians, local champions and influencers to be advocates for early intervention, and equip existing champions and supporters with the arguments and evidence they need to make the case.
2. Generating evidence
- Evidence to change policy and practice: Our work will focus on five key issues for national and local decisionmakers:
- Identifying risk
- How to assess need effectively
- Evidence-based programmes
- Workforce practices
- Local conditions and systems.
- Supporting others to build the evidence-base: We want to bring about a step change in the quantity and quality of evaluation of early intervention in the UK. We will develop tools for programme providers just starting their evaluation journey, and for local areas looking to evaluate their early intervention systems.
3. Using evidence to change policy and practice
- Working with policymakers: To set out how our evidence is relevant to current policy priorities and to influence the development of policy to tackle key issues affecting child outcomes.
- Working with sector and workforce bodies, and charities: To disseminate our evidence via trusted bodies to change the practice of people commissioning and delivering early intervention.
- Running networks and evidence masterclasses: To bring together key audiences such as local leaders, commissioners and service managers to learn about our evidence, share their own experiences, and help EIF to understand the issues facing people working on the ground.
- Working directly with local places: Supporting individual local places, or groups of places, to apply the evidence to develop plans and recommendations for effective early intervention.
To ensure we are able to make the case for early intervention, generate evidence, and use that evidence to change policy and practice, we will continue to build a strong, sustainable and effective organisation.
Effective communications means ensuring that as many people as possible are aware of EIF, understand our key messages about the importance and purpose of early intervention, and use our content in their work.
We will work to raise the profile of EIF and its role, create new and receptive audiences for our messages, and produce high-quality outputs that are authoritative, accessible, engaging and useful.
To create a financially sustainable organisation we will grow secure, long-term funding and diversify our funding sources. Funding from central government will continue to be a key part of our model, underpinning our role as a What Works centre. We will also work to secure funding from outside of central government.
Where we are better able to achieve our mission by working in partnership we will do so. Working in partnership will enable us to reach new audiences, increase our influence, access expertise that we do not have in-house and will put us in a stronger position to secure external funding.
We will identify partners we want to work with, build strong relationships, and ensure any work we do together maximises our potential to have a positive impact.