This evaluation explored how local authorities (LAs) had used the findings from the Bright Spots surveys to improve the lives of the children they look after.
The purpose of the evaluation was to understand whether involvement in the Bright Spots Programme had directly or indirectly contributed to changes in local authority (LA) policies and practice for children in care.
- There was evidence to support claims of changes to policy and practice in the Bright Spots domains of relationships, resilience, rights, and recovery, with the highest number of changes taking place in rights and relationships. Organisational drivers and enablers of change were also evidenced in some LAs that were already achieving some Bright Spots of practice. Unsurprisingly, there was less evidence of improvements to overall well-being, as the impact of policy and practice changes would be likely to take some time to have an effect. There was also less evidence on how LA’s had responded to indicators of risk of low well-being. LAs seemed to have a better understanding of risk factors for adolescents but less understanding of the factors that affected younger children. There were very few examples of strategies or actions which targeted children under 11 years.
- We did find evidence that in most of the LAs, children and young people, foster carers, and professionals knew about the survey and that children and young people had the opportunity to complete the survey and see the findings. There was also evidence of the value staff placed on the child’s voice and most young people and children who were in focus groups felt they had a say in decisions and how the services they received were run.
- The evaluation showed how even when professionals knew about and were acting upon the areas that needed improvement, the Bright Spots findings were powerful in providing additional evidence that was used to gain additional funding or to advocate for change. The evaluation found that participating in the Bright Spots programme has led to culture change in some LAs, resulting in a change of language and attitude in how to deliver services, with children’s voices taking a much more central role.