”This star image and the cards that go with it offer us a functional tool for our work with children, young people, and families who are clients of child welfare services”, says Maria Sevon, unit director of Hemboet youth home. For more than two years. Folkhälsan child welfare services have been using Outcomes Star, an evaluation tool developed by a UK company Triangle.
Today, the Outcomes Star is used by many organisations in both public and private sectors, as well as by many municipalities in Europe. The tool is available in six languages.
”The method has not been translated into Swedish yet, but Folkhälsan child welfare services use the Finnish language version ”Tulostähti”, which has been developed as a part of a pilot project involving, among others, the City of Tampere”, Sevon says.
Folkhälsan contacted Outcomes Star in the spring 2017. The goal was to find a quality management system for child welfare services that was similar to the RAI (resident assessment instrument) method used in care for the elderly.
”These days, the Outcomes Star offers ready-for-use versions and tools for more than 30 different fields of activity. Six of these have been translated into Finnish. There are stars for, among others, child welfare, family work, mental health care, youth work, and work with the elderly.
Villa Familia facade
The main feature of the tool is the illustrated, multi-pointed star. The points of the star represent various areas of the life of a child, a young person, or a family: health, accommodation, safety and comfort, emotions and behaviour, friends, self-esteem and trust, school and learning.
For each point of the star, the current situation in that area is evaluated using scale of 1 to 5. Closest to the centre of the star is level 1, and that is often the starting point when support measures are introduced. On level 2 the area is somewhat functional. Improvement is monitored step by step during the process. On level 4 the child or young person can function with adult support, and level 5 means the progress has been so good that placement in a foster home or children’s home or other supportive measures are no longer needed.
The use of Outcomes Star puts the family, the child, or the young person in the focus. The use of the Outcomes Star varies slightly form one unit to the next. Differences mainly manifest on the individual level, depending on whether the use involves working with a child or with a family.
The use of the Outcomes Star makes the process more visual and more structured than before.
Cards corresponding with each level are also used with the star. The progress is evaluated at three month intervals, as making changes happen in an individual’s life takes time and effort.
The star and the cards support the process visually. It helps the child welfare services client – a child, a young person, or a family – and the child welfare workers to better evaluate the situation and assess the current status as well as what can and needs to be done to achieve progress.
The assessment of the star evaluation results is used to draw an action plan that sets goals for further work with the child or the family.
The Hemboet livingroom
The star being visible and present makes the work more goal-oriented for all parties. The child or the young person gets their voice heard. The current situation can be further communicated to all stakeholders, such as parents, school, or social services.
”As things get better, supportive measures can be reduced one at a time, and this frees up resources for other families. As a whole, the process duration depends largely on the individual.
Some are faster while others make slower progress towards the point of a star. The most important thing is to understand their current situation and to create good cooperation.”
Folkhälsan child welfare services is centred in the Meltola area in the Raseborg municipality. There are two units, Hemboet and Villa Familia.
The Hemboet youth home houses young persons aged 12–17 who have been taken into care and/or placed in youth home on long-term basis. Villa Familia offers family rehabilitation services and operates a refuge home. The refuge home houses persons who have been victims to violence or have been threatened with violence. The refuge home offers shelter from violence and help for ending it, as well as practical support and information.
Villa Familia also includes children’s home Barnens väl, which offers services for children aged 0–17. In addition to services offered at Hemboet and Villa Familia, the Folkhälsan child welfare services include outpatient services and work with families.