The EIF Programmes Library provides an important starting point for commissioners to find out more about effective early interventions. However, entry in the Programmes Library is no guarantee that the intervention will work at the local level. Specifically, entry in the Programmes Library IS NOT:
- A kite mark or validation for any specific programme. There are intense debates about what constitutes strong or weak evidence. We think they are informative and provide important lessons about how to improve effectiveness. However, we also feel that any assessment of programme’s effectiveness needs careful interpretation. So while we provide information about an intervention’s effectiveness, this information should never be interpreted as a kite mark or endorsement of a specific programme.
- A complete or exhaustive list. There are thousands of interventions and approaches with various levels of evidence and we could not include all of them. But we had to start somewhere. So for the time being, we focus primarily on interventions that are currently available in the UK. We will be adding programmes to the Library during the course of 2016.
- A guarantee or silver bullet. The interventions included here have some evidence of being effective, or being based on an effective idea. This evidence is not, however, a guarantee that the intervention will work in a specific location or setting. Many factors positively and negatively influence intervention outcomes. Interventions must therefore always be monitored within local settings to make sure that they are effective and providing value for money.
- A set of simple answers. Even though an intervention has worked in one UK community does not mean that it will work in another. Interventions should always be selected on the basis of specific community needs and infrastructures. UK commissioners should never commission an intervention solely on the basis of inclusion on this list. Local judgment is always required.
- An easy solution or quick win. Effective early intervention can be challenging. While many of the best interventions provide clear implementation guidelines, these often require systemic changes within and across the agencies delivering it. The best research suggests that it often takes two or more years before an intervention or practice change will demonstrate positive results.
- An endorsement of ‘off the shelf’ interventions. While the majority of interventions listed here have evidence of improving child and family outcomes, they should not be used to replace things that are already working well. The primary aim of this list is to provide examples of ideas that work and options for local authorities. It does not aim to inhibit innovation or prohibit practices with evidence of being effective at the local level.
- Programmes that have been assessed by EIF. Our “Foundations for Life: What Works to Support Parent Child Interaction in the Early Years” and “What Works to Enhance Inter-Parental Relationships and Improve Outcomes for Children” reports include ratings made by EIF rather than those of other clearinghouses. The programmes whose evidence was rated in these reports are not in the Guidebook. Some of these will be added in the future.
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