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Measuring child wellbeing

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Presentation on theme: "Measuring child wellbeing"— Presentation transcript:

1 Measuring child wellbeing
Sam Coope and Ian Storrie Scottish Government Education Analytical Services

2 What is Wellbeing? “Wellbeing is a positive and sustainable state that allows individuals, groups or nations to thrive and flourish.” “Wellbeing comprises objective descriptors and subjective evaluations of physical, material, social and emotional wellbeing, together with the extent of personal development and purposeful activity, all weighted by a set of values.” So what is wellbeing? Firstly it is helpful to recognise that the term is often used interchangeably with happiness, quality of life, welfare, utility and various other similar concepts and there is some debate as to whether this is appropriate.

3 What is Wellbeing? (Cont’d)
“Wellbeing is a positive physical, social and mental state; it is not just the absence of pain, discomfort and incapacity. It requires that basic needs are met, that individuals have a sense of purpose, that they feel able to achieve important personal goals and participate in society. It is enhanced by conditions that include supportive personal relationships, strong and inclusive communities, good health, financial and personal security, rewarding employment, and a healthy and attractive environment. Government’s role is to enable people to have a fair access now and in the future to the social, economic and environmental resources needed to achieve wellbeing. An understanding of the effect of policies on the way people experience their lives is important for designing and prioritising them.”

≈5500 BC First recorded murder by child 6000BC Weapon wielding infants 1800 AD Malingering children only work 12 hour day 1860 AD Child thief begs for food 1987 AD Waving wobbly sticks at children banned If we look at the time line. According to wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, first there was the Flintstones. Then a few hundred years later there was Adam and Eve, then their children Cain and Abel and then through some unexplained route that would no doubt trigger a child protection investigation the planet was full of people. In the 19th century we children down the pit and up the chimneys. In the 1800’s we had children stealing for their supper and pleading for more. As recently as 30 years ago we had corporal punishment in schools. At some point in the last years we start paying particular attention to the wellbeing of children. And certainly in the last few years it has become a very fashionable concept to be involved in. 2007 AD Scotland cares about cute children’s wellbeing

5 How we got to where we are…

6 UNICEF Domains of Wellbeing
Material Deprivation – Relative Income, Households without jobs Health & Safety – Infant Mortality, Immunisations Educational Well-being – School Achievement, Post-15 Education Relationships – Family Structure, Peer Relationships Behaviours & Risks – Health Behaviours, Experience of Violence Subjective Well-being – Self-assessed indicators.

7 Overall - unicef Average Ranking Material Deprivation Health & Safety
Average Ranking Material Deprivation Health & Safety Educational Well-Being Relationships Behaviours & Risks Subjective Well-being Netherlands 4.2 10 2 6 3 1 Sweden 5.0 5 15 7 Denmark 7.2 4 8 9 12 Finland 7.5 17 11 Spain 8.0 Switzerland 8.3 14 Norway 8.7 13 Italy 10.0 20 Ireland 10.2 19 Belgium 10.7 16 Germany 11.2 Canada 11.8 18 Greece Poland 12.3 21 Czech Republic 12.5 France 13.0 Portugal 13.7 Austria 13.8 Hungary 14.5 United States 18.0 N/A UK 18.2

8 Barnardo’s Index of Wellbeing
Looks at 7 key indicators of wellbeing – child poverty, NEET, PISA scores, suicide rates, teenage pregnancy, birth weight, and dental health Indicators combined to create one measure – an index of child wellbeing. Barnardo’s asked SG to become involved and take forward development of their work.

9 Overall - Barnardos

10 Overall - Barnardos

11 What next? Limitations of UNICEF/Barnardos approaches
Going back to first principles…. Why measure child wellbeing? Are we measuring it adequately already? So, as Ian said earlier, we were prompted to question – what did all of this tell us? And is all of this enough, or do we need to be measuring child wellbeing more, or analysing what we have in a different way? So, we examined what the UNICEF and Barnardos reports actually gave us. Obviously we decided that these reports weren’t enough in themselves to tell us all we needed to know about child wellbeing, for a number of reasons firstly, UNICEF didn’t split out Scotland, and Barnardos selected an extremely limited range of indicators. If we want to look at how Scotland is doing, clearly neither of these are going to tell us the whole story. Also because the Innocenti report card was driven by the requirement to do international comparisons, it meant that the whole exercise was necessarily data-driven – the choice of indicators was extremely constrained by what was measured consistently across countries, rather than being driven by choosing the best indicators available Having decided that we needed to respond to the challenge of measuring child wellbeing, but that these exercises did not give us what we needed, we then had to go back to first principles and ask ourselves – what do we want to measure child wellbeing for? What’s the point? And if we decide that measuring CWB is a worthwhile exercise - what are we actually doing already, and is that enough? So, I’m going to speak about how we’re been working through each of these questions…

12 Why measure wellbeing? Agreement on
what’s important what constitutes “progress” Maintain focus and stimulate attention “The handrail of policy” In a policy setting, by setting priorities and agreeing to measure them in a certain way then you essentially have to agree and commit to what you think is important and also work out what constitutes progress – what direction do we want to be travelling in? In agreeing to measure wellbeing, policy makers are acknowledging that it is important and (Ian will go on to this later) that improving wellbeing is one of the ultimate aims of policymaking. By setting up systems to monitor progress we also maintain and stimulate a public focus on the issues at hand In summary, to use Bradshaw’s phrase, measurement serves as the handrail of policy keeping efforts on track towards goals encouraging sustained attention

13 Why compare ourselves to others?
Shows countries’ relative strengths & weaknesses Shows what is achievable in practice Shows us that wellbeing is (to an extent) policy-susceptible More important for newly devolved nations? Why compare ourselves to others? As well as aiming to track progress over time, obviously exercises such as UNICEFs were set up to compare countries with one another – I’m just going to run through some of the potential benefits of such exercises and why we might want to consider any future involvement. Internationally, measurement and comparison gives an indication of each country's RELATIVE strengths and weaknesses. It shows what is achievable in practice and the potential for improvement Above all, such comparisons demonstrate that given levels of child well-being are not inevitable but policy-susceptible; Finally, is it more important for newly devolved nations to do so? For countries like Scotland it may be more important for us to demonstrate how devolution is making a difference – if it is making a difference.

14 Why measure child wellbeing?
..or, what makes kids different? “Well-becoming” “Well-being” The right to be happy and well Adult vs child perceptions of wellbeing Why measure child wellbeing? What makes children different? Firstly there is the issue that we are especially interested in children’s future potential more than we are adults’ potential – adult measures seem much more based on where they are currently. Exams might not help with a child’s current wellbeing, for example, but they should help their wellbeing in future. But it’s also important to respect children’s rights to be happy and well in the here-and-now And children’s versions of what this wellbeing actually is tend to be very different to adult perceptions (not least because there will be huge generational differences) Studies show us some of these differences Sixsmith study – social life, pets and spirituality/religion more prominent in children’s accounts, school more prominent for adults Resilience studies – adults views of what impacts negatively on CWB different to kids’ – kids views more accurate

15 How do we measure it already – in Scotland?
Surveys Health Behaviours of Schoolage Children (HBSC) Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) Collections of indicators ScotPHO (Public Health Observatory) work Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) So, I have tried to deconstruct some of the fundamental issues we’ve been grappling with. When we’ve been considering what – if anything – we should be doing next it was also important to consider what we’re doing already of course. In terms of surveys, 2 of our major sources are HBSC & GUS. HBSC provides many of the indicators used in the UNICEF index. It’s a WHO international survey of schoolchildren conducted every 4 yrs with 6k Scottish sample, covering life circumstances and health and health behaviours International comparisons with 41 countries (05/06) We also have GUS, which is a longitudinal child cohort study tracking 2 cohorts of children and following them up yearly til the age of 5, then – we hope - at key transition points in their lives thereafter. While it has not explicitly been based on a theoretical construction of child wellbeing we can be confident that it will give us a pretty comprehensive view of the wellbeing of the cohort. There is also scope for comparing the wellbeing of children in Scotland with children in other countries (and this is the subject of some ongoing research) However GUS does not cover all age groups of children in Scotland and so it is of limited use in providing us with a view of the ‘state of the nation’ at any given point in time. In terms of collections of indicators, the ScotPHO are putting together a set of indicators based on administrative data that aim to measure child wellbeing at CHP level in order to track progress over time and to compare CHPs (can’t say too much more on this yet! Under development) Finally, I am just going to say a few words on a policy initiative that sets the wider context on how we define, and how therefore we may measure, child wellbeing in future, before neatly segueing back to Ian who will say a little on how this fits with the wider policy context in Scotland. GIRFEC is the programme of work in the government that aims to improve child wellbeing through the provision of child-centred, holistic and fully integrated services for children. Won’t go into the details but one of the key elements of GIRFEC is the creation of a single assessment tool for children and young people for all professionals working with CYP. In order to develop this, a common understanding of child wellbeing has had to be developed and agreed on across the government, and all partners in LAs and the health professions, and must surely underpin any measurement of CWB we do in future. If anyone would like further info on that happy to pick up in discussion but it is time to pass over to Ian who will link all of this up to the wider Scottish policy context….

16 Department for Children, Schools and Families
Creation of the new Dept for Children, Schools and Families Evidence report aimed to: Inform CP policy development Present a wider and more up-to-date picture of wellbeing than available previously DCSF’s work is based on a legal concept (set out in the Children Act 2004) of wellbeing which equates children and young people's wellbeing with the 5 Every Child Matters outcomes (healthy, safe, enjoy and achieve, positive contribution, economic well-being). 

17 Northern Ireland Assembly
All children will thrive and look forward with confidence to the future Children and Young People are: Healthy; Enjoying, learning and achieving; Living in safety and stability; Experiencing economic and environmental wellbeing; Contributing positively to community and society and Living in a society which respects their rights. Indicators being refined and enhanced to incorporate Children’s rights aspects

18 Welsh Assembly Government
Child Wellbeing Monitor agreed in August 2007 Approximately 7 pages each on: Early Years Education and learning opportunities Health, freedom from abuse and victimisation Access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities Respect Having a safe home and community Freedom from Child poverty Measure of progress over time rather than geography

19 Government of Ireland National Children’s Strategy (2000), leading to State of the Nation’s Children (2006) Domains used include: Physical & Mental Wellbeing Emotional and Behavioural Wellbeing Intellectual Capacity Spiritual and Moral Wellbeing Identity Self-care Family Relationships Social & Peer Relationships Social Presentation Measure of progress over time rather than geography

20 Government of Ireland 10 Year commitment to improve data collection in relation to children Launched Growing Up in Ireland in January 2007

21 What will we measure in future?

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