Evaluation of the Children in Trouble projects

Client: LGA | NFER Contact: Karen Halsey

The LGA Children in Trouble project aims to reduce the use of custody for children and young people. Evidence suggests that the use of community sentences that target the root of offending behaviour reduce the seriousness and frequency of re-offending. The first phase of the Children in Trouble project is to run pilots in four locations around the UK. It is hoped that these pilots will demonstrate innovation and good practice in reducing custodial sentencing and reoffending rates. The NFER has been asked to evaluate the impacts of the pilot projects over a period of two years (starting from May 2007).

Research questions

The main aim of this research study will be to gather evidence on the outcomes of the four Children in Trouble pilot projects.

The different outcomes will be divided into two distinct tiers for the purposes of evaluation and reporting. Tier one concerns a set of six shared objectives across all four pilots. The evaluation will report on the extent to which each project has made progress against these specified outcome areas.

The second tier of outcomes for investigation will concern those that could be regarded as project specific. Whilst each pilot is seeking to meet the global aims of the Children in Trouble project, variations in focus and approach will inevitably mean that there will be an additional set of aims that each is working towards (for example, increased entry to education, training and employment). The evaluation will therefore set out to capture those ‘tier two’ outcomes which are unique to the individual projects and their chosen approaches.

Impact and outcomes

Evaluation findings will be relayed in two main reports. The interim evaluation report (completed in June 2008) will present findings from the first year of the project and include recommendations and advice for the final stage of the pilots. The final evaluation report (completed in June 2009) will build on the first and span the full two years of project activity. It will also offer recommendations and advice for the roll-out of the project in other areas. The research will therefore help inform the development of the Children in Trouble projects as well as similar schemes that may be set up in other locations.

Research design and methods

The project will be carried out in four main phases:


The findings from the evaluation will be of interest to those working with young offenders (for example youth offending teams, alternative education providers, social workers,and so on.)

Time scale: May 2007 - June 2009

NFER Project Code: CTI