Published Report Details
Mandatory Fields
Cormac Forkan and Fergal Landy
An Evaluation of the Identification of Need (ION) Process in Sligo/Leitrim and Donegal
Sligo Social Services
Optional Fields
Family Support Inter-agency working Prevention and Early Intervention Partnership with parents
The overall conclusion of this evaluation of the ION process in Sligo/Leitrim and Donegal is that while the implementation of ION is in its infancy, there is substantial evidence of its effectiveness and value in terms of short-term and medium-term outcomes. In a short pilot phase, the concept and practice of ION as a new way of working has been embedded and accepted as a simple, user-friendly, resource-efficient and effective way of supporting children and families. However, insufficient time has elapsed to determine the extent to which long-term outcomes will be achieved. The project set about creating an ethos of acceptance that the provision of care and support to children and families is ‘everybody’s business’. It has been successful in this aim – reflected in initiation and engagement in ION processes across the five sectors of Education, Community and Voluntary, HSE services, Crime Prevention and Other Public Services. It has gently nudged organisations and agencies from the confines of their specific remits to the broader one of responsibility for child welfare – reflected in the successful activation of multiple points of referral. By adding an earlier point of engagement along the continuum of support to children and families, it has opened up new options for children and families in need and for agencies in touch with them, free of the fear and stigma associated with the existing model of social care. The strength of the ION model lies in its simplicity. By matching needs to existing services, it acts to the benefit of both services and children. Families benefit from the distinctive function of each individual agency being effectively targeted, while the quality of that service or support is maximised as a result of the additional information shared through the process. The added value of ION is provided through effective multi-agency collaboration. The development of a common understanding of problems, the creation of synergy and the development of collective interdependent solutions to problems have all proven to be a successful combination for families and services alike. There is evidence of improved trust between services, of better communication between services and families, of reduced duplication of effort for services and of increased satisfaction with services among families. Critical stakeholders, including parents, lead practitioners, Chairs and key agencies, indicated a strong desire to proceed with and improve the ION initiative. The model is well placed to contribute to the implementation of policy in Ireland on delivering services to children and families. The ION initiative is a valuable start in delivering an early, preventative, timely and coordinated multi-agency response to families in need. Of all its novel characteristics, the placing of the family at the centre of the intervention is particularly promising and was remarked upon by all stakeholders. The participation of both parents and children as agents of change, acting to enhance their own well-being, is a fundamental shift when compared to the manner in which existing services are delivered and was also one of the key success factors in securing the participation of parents in ION processes. The pilot phase of the implementation of the ION model in Donegal and Sligo/Leitrim /West Cavan has provided a valuable opportunity to develop, refine and adapt the Common Assessment Framework for implementation in Ireland. Consideration of the recommendations in this evaluation report, combined with the continuous process of review and adaptation which has defined the standard working practice of the Management Group, will be important, not only for the continued success of the model in the region, but also in determining the extent to which the model becomes adopted practice in other regions throughout the country.
An evaluation of the identification of need (ION) process in Sligo/Leitrim and Donegal
Grant Details
commissioned evaluation
Publication Themes