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Delivering Services to Hard to Reach Families in On Track Areas: Definition, Consultation and Needs Assessment

NCJ Number
Paul Doherty; Alison Stott; Kay Kinder
Sally Harradine
Date Published
12 pages
This study examined how service providers in a sample of "On Track" areas in Great Britain (areas with high risk factors for crime and antisocial behavior) defined, interacted with, and provided services to "hard-to-reach" families.
This study was based on work done by the National Foundation for Education Research, which examined the concept of "hard-to-reach" and its implications for On Track service providers. The study focused on how certain groups were defined and contacted by professionals who worked in On Track areas, as well as how services were delivered to them during the first 16 months of the On Track program. The study conducted telephone interviews with 33 professionals who have delivered intervention services, as well as face-to-face interviews with 6 project coordinators. Although the study focused on only 6 projects, the findings were determined to be representative of the 24 project areas. The study found that three broad definitions of "hard-to-reach" groups were used by projects: minority groups, those slipping through the support net, and those who resisted receiving services. Services tended to be delivered according to the defined characteristics of each group rather than in accordance with a group's perceived need. Direct consultation was occurring in less than 25 percent of the interventions studied. Three consultation strategies were reported: targeting members of marginalized groups; linking with other professionals who provided services to these groups; and outreach work in the context of community venues. Repeated contact with the same people deemed to speak for all "hard-to-reach" groups was often viewed as a barrier to effective intervention. Professionals were reluctant to use structured assessment tools, since they were viewed as "alienating." This report recommends that the defining of "hard-to-reach" groups be based on empirical evidence, and it should ensure that those so identified have the greatest need. Other recommendations are that service providers routinely factor in costs for consulting with marginalized groups, that practitioners should adopt consultation strategies that ensure the views of "hard-to-reach" groups are heard, and that the methods used to assess the needs of marginalized groups not be stigmatizing. 2 tables