• By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 30th March, 2011

Intervention works!

Adolescent drug abuse, delinquency, dropping out of school and risky sexual behavior create tremendous public health costs and can have lasting detrimental effects on young people’s health and well-being. Yet before 1980 there was little evidence that delinquency or adolescent drug abuse could be prevented.Over the past 30 years, this has changed. Several interventions have been found to be effe…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 25th March, 2011

Does prevention really pay?

What is it? Does it work? Is it worth the money? These are the first three questions a funder or policy maker is likely to ask someone claiming that they have something that will improve children’s lives.On the first two there has been enormous progress. Developers have become quite sophisticated at explaining what they have to offer and robust evaluation, using experimental methods, is becoming…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Thursday 24th March, 2011

Know what you need to do before you act

Administrative information, such as the number of children in care, is typically used by local authorities to understand the needs of children they serve. Other approaches include needs assessments that often have little or no scientific rigor and which focus on the processes within these agencies. Critiquing the traditional methods for collecting information on children, a team of investigators f…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 23rd March, 2011

A new way of explaining . . .

Researchers and others in the social sciences have long pondered how to make known often complex theories, concepts and research findings to a non-specialist audience.One problem is trying to get people to think theoretically. Another is the need to understand complex scientific theories, like brain development, or concepts, like neuroplasticity, or mathematical terms like probability and signific…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Monday 21st March, 2011

A glass half full or half empty?

In 1889, legislation was passed in Britain which gave the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) the power to enter homes to rescue children at risk of harm, thus violating a long-held view of family sanctity.While the development of Western countries’ concern for the welfare of children can be traced historically through the establishment of charities, legislation ba…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 16th March, 2011

Scared of the truth?

The US television network A&E is currently making waves with its latest reality show, Beyond Scared Straight, which takes young people at risk of offending and exposes them to the horrors of the juvenile justice system, including prison. Producer Arnold Shapiro champions the program, which he helped bring to prominence in the late 1970s with his documentary Scared Straight. Shapiro’s belief and…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 15th March, 2011

A SEAL on results

The Labour government, ousted in the general election nine months ago, took a more centralized approach to social policy. Where it did not itself initiate new policies - like the significant success of the introducing Sure Start children’s centres in every disadvantaged community in the country – it often encouraged local authorities to pursue new ideas. In other areas the results have been le…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Monday 14th March, 2011

Is a nudge as good as a law?

Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein’s book Nudge sparked a flurry of interest in media and political circles when it was published three years ago. The University of Chicago authors focus on ideas that are both paternalistic and libertarian. They argue for influencing people’s behaviour to make them healthier. That’s the paternalism. But they also require that the influence stop short of intrus…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 11th March, 2011

Why keeping it in the family doesn’t work

If it often takes a long time for policy makers to accept good practice based on firm evidence, it is also sometimes the case – but less well remarked upon – that there is resistance to ditching what has proven not to work. Family group conferences (FGC) are an interesting case in point. There are variations on the method, but the essential ingredient is bringing family members together to so…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Thursday 10th March, 2011

Bowling alone and splitting apart?

Operating systems such as Communities that Care, operating principles such as collective efficacy, and much else connected with successful service design and delivery make assumptions about the aspirations of the societies they work within.The biggest concerns "social capital" – the core intuition that the goodwill that others have toward us – and we toward them – is a valuable and trustwort…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Wednesday 09th March, 2011

Risk Analysis #2 #2

The interaction between genetic inheritance, early experiences and subsequent life style experiences are becoming better understood. Models based on the interplay and accumulation of risk factors and their relationship to protective factors have superseded rigid determinism to explain most aspects of child development.But while general perspectives are agreed, researchers are now faced with the mu…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Tuesday 08th March, 2011

An easy SEL

Programs that focus on social and emotional skills have been shown to improve academic achievement by 11 percentile points, a new study finds. When researchers looked at the results of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, the first piece of good news was that the programs did improve students’ social and emotional skills. The second piece of good news – perhaps more surprising – was…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Monday 07th March, 2011

What works for struggling readers?

Reading is the most fundamental of all skills – it not only determines how well (or how poorly) a child fares in school in almost all subjects but it also strongly influences what comes later, not least job opportunities and potential to earn. To be deprived of reading is not only to be unable to enjoy some of the greatest work that humanity has produced but also to know what’s on the supermar…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Friday 04th March, 2011

Swedish lessons in MST

While there is a growing interest in transporting evidence-based interventions developed and tested in one country to other countries, research in Sweden suggests new challenges for researchers, policy makers and practitioners. In 2002 the rising costs of dealing with youth with behavior problems in the childcare system prompted several municipal child welfare authorities in Sweden to adopt MST, a…

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  • By Dartington SRU
  • Posted on Thursday 03rd March, 2011

Caution urged over future of Family Nurse Partnership

The much-praised Family Nurse Partnership (FNP) programme may not be sustainable, according to a new study, if local concerns about costs are not tackled. The research by Jacqueline Barnes from Birkbeck University comes only weeks after FNP was in the spotlight when it was highly recommended by an independent review into early intervention commissioned by the Coalition government [see: Launch of t…

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