The measuring tool should be applied using a variety of sources of qualitative and quantitative data gathered by government and non-governmental bodies, including academic and research institutions. Sources of evidence should be accurate and, whenever possible, independently verified. However, it is recognised that in many countries, a limited range of information is available, some of which may be partial or of uncertain reliability.
The following list contains potentially useful sources. This can serve as a checklist to help identify information where it is readily available. The list can also be used to identify data sources that could be developed when resources permit, through the collaboration of different agencies or other means.
It will be helpful when completing the tool to indicate the type of evidence used as the basis for responses and to point out any limitations as regards frequency, coverage, accuracy and specificity. The following points should be taken into account:
Sources of evidence for completing the tool should include the range of legislative and policy documentation produced by governments, official independent agencies, inter-governmental agencies including UN and regional bodies, NGOs and faith based organisations. It is important to note the date that evidence was collected and the geographical areas to which it applies.
Quantitative and qualitative data can offer complementary insights as sources of information on alternative care. Studies that investigate the circumstances, experiences and needs of children and/or evaluate the impact of services are particularly relevant. Research that includes the viewpoints of children and families are also important to consider.
Many studies will provide a snapshot of a particular time. Additional benefits come from longitudinal studies that show change over time. Evaluations of services or providers will provide vital information about the quality of care and outcomes for children. Situational analyses, data mapping or evidence reviews will provide an overview of relevant areas.
It is important that the methodology used by the research is clearly explained. It should be carried out by a reputable body such as a university, specialist research agency or research unit within a larger organisation. Where the reliability of the research is less clear, it is important to note how this information was gathered and the methodology that was used.
Quantitative information covers, for example: numbers and percentages of children placed in different forms of alternative care; numbers of children not living with biological parents; numbers of children living in kinship care; numbers of children and families receiving support services; types of alternative care placement; the main types of care provider; and expenditure on relevant services. Sources include:
Qualitative information covers a range of sources which gather the views and experiences of children, families and professionals in qualitative data as part of research, consultation, evaluation or participation activities. Sources include:
This includes other information where systematic evidence is not available but which provides particular insights about attitudes and perceptions by key stakeholders. It may be helpful to record what is ‘known’ by people working in the field, especially where there is a considerable degree of consensus – what people collectively agree that they know about the system. This should give pointers to the kinds of more specific information that need to be gathered in future. Overviews by relevant professionals may already be available from professional reports or bodies. Information might be available from training and education providers including curricula material.
Useful insights can come from consulting with as wide a range of experts as possible, on a one-off or repeated basis. Experts may include policy makers at national and regional levels, heads of large children’s services, representatives from NGOs, professional groups, service users, youth organisations, relevant researchers and educators/trainers as well as children and their families. Consultation can be carried out by means of events, focus group discussions and/or obtaining views individually.
One of the benefits of completing Tracking Progress is that stakeholders will get a better understanding of what data and other evidence is available. At the end of the process, those who have been involved in the process can consider how to improve data collection and how this can be taken forward.