OOHC - Towards Outcomes-Based Contracting
15 February 2018 at 8:33 am
For the out-of-home care (OOHC) sector the move to outcomes based contracting will have its own particular challenges, writes Criterion ahead of the Navigating the Permanency Support Conference.
Five years ago everyone was talking about outcomes measurement but very few organisations were actually doing it. Fast forward to now and we’re seeing outcomes measurement go mainstream with more and more organisations being asked to do it by their investors.
The best recent example is NSW’s Permanency Support program with its Outcomes Based Contracts. Outcomes Based Contracts put the focus on outcomes and ensure reporting and evaluation help organisations understand what’s working (and what isn’t) rather than being about meaningless admin.
There are, however, some fears that tying funding to outcomes won’t actually lead to better results. That, instead of encouraging improvement, it will lead to organisations simply looking for evidence that their programs are working so they can continue to receive funding.
People are concerned that it will lead to even greater competition in the sector and that this will hinder collaboration; something that is seen as essential for better outcomes in many areas.
It remains to be seen if these fears will be realised. What is known is that, a focus on outcomes, is more likely to be beneficial rather than detrimental. If it’s done well.
Doing it well is the real challenge. While it makes sense to measure the effectiveness of programs and initiatives it is actually very difficult to do. How do you know what to measure? How do you measure the “unmeasurable” (something like “wellbeing”)? What methodology do you use? How do you embed it throughout the organisation…the list goes on.
For the OOHC sector the move to outcomes based contracting will have its own particular challenges. For instance, how do you turn narrative style case notes into reportable outcomes and how do you measure the voice of a child?
The Navigating the Permanency Support Conference will unpack some of these challenges through a series of presentations from FACS and those organisations already making progress in the space like Life Without Barriers. It will provide organisations with a practical guide to measuring outcomes and managing the more challenging aspects.
For the OOHC sector the new contracts have already commenced. For other sectors, it’s only a matter of time. The NSW government is moving to outcomes-based budgeting in all areas and the Victorian Public Service is in the process of reforming with a focus on outcomes being a key component.
So, if you haven’t already, it’s time to build your skills in this area. It is going to be a focus of the social sector and government more broadly from here on. And, at its core, it’s all about getting better outcomes for our most vulnerable; something we all want.
To find out more about this topic, attend The Navigating the Permanency Support Conference in March.