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A Better Start National Evaluation

The National Lottery Community Fund has asked us to evaluate A Better Start. A Better Start is a programme set up by The Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

ABS Evaluation (2)

About the study

The National Lottery Community Fund (The Fund) has asked us to evaluate A Better Start. A Better Start is a programme set up by The Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. A Better Start works with families so they play an active part in deciding on and designing the services and support they get so they can give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. It is one of five major programmes set up by The Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier.

The national evaluation of A Better Start aims to answer four key questions. These are:

1. What contribution has A Better Start made to the life chances of children?
2. How have the services in A Better Start sites contributed to improving children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional skills and language and communication skills?
3. How have families from different backgrounds experienced A Better Start?
4. How has A Better Start reduced public costs that relate to primary school-aged children?

To answer these questions, the evaluation team will be carrying out several different evaluation activities, including:

  • Collecting anonymous data from NHS Digital and the Department for Education and data from beneficiaries at each of the five A Better Start partnership sites
  • Reviewing other evaluation reports
  • Interviews with staff at each of the five A Better Start partnership sites
  • Interviews with other (not A Better Start) areas about their children and family work
  • Interviews with The Fund
  • Attending A Better Start events across each of the five A Better Start partnership sites
  • Working with 25 families across each of the five A Better Start partnership sites who have used A Better Start services. This will include speaking to the whole family
  • Collecting costs related to A Better Start.

More information about the evaluation activities can be found in the national evaluation study protocol (pdf).

Who is carrying out the evaluation?

The national evaluation is being carried out by five organisations: NatCen Social Research, University of Sussex, RSM Partners, National Children’s Bureau and Research in Practice.

Why take part?

We want to understand what is happening in the A Better Start areas and make sure that our evaluation can find out about the difference that A Better Start has made. We hope that the evaluation will help other families in the future by finding ways to improve services.

What will taking part involve?

If you have been invited to take part in an interview or will be part of an event that we will attend, we will provide you with a written information sheet about your participation ahead of time. This will include details about the evaluation activity, such as the different topics we would like to cover and when the activity will take place. It will also explain how your data will be stored, used, archived and/or deleted and include a link to the privacy notice (pdf).

Why have I been selected to take part?

You have been invited to take part because you’ve been identified as a good person to talk to in order to help us answer our four key questions. This might be because you are involved in managing A Better Start partnership site, are delivering A Better Start service or are accessing A Better Start service.

Is participation voluntary?

Yes, participation is completely voluntary. You do not have to take part in the interview, and you may choose to stop participating at any point without giving a reason. You can also choose not to talk about certain topics.

Whether you decide to take part in any evaluation activities or not will in no way affect you or your local A Better Start partnership site.

Do I have to answer all the questions?

It’s totally up to you what you say in the interview. You do not need to answer any questions or talk about any topics that you do not feel comfortable with.

What will happen to any information I give?

We will bring together the views of everyone who has taken part in evaluation activities to help us answer our four key questions. We will present findings for The Fund in a number of different ways, such as reports, blogs and podcasts. We won’t use any names or report individual people’s opinions.

For more information on how we will handle your personal information, please refer to the privacy notice (pdf).

Contact us

You can contact the national evaluation team at ABS@natcen.ac.uk or on 0808 281 9513.

Privacy notice

The privacy notice can be downloaded here.