Evaluation of a substance misuse treatment service for women

NEF Consulting evaluated the Brighton Oasis Project (BOP) model and their POCAR (Parenting Our  Children – Addressing Risk) programme. Brighton Oasis is a charity offering a women-only substance misuse treatment service in the City of Brighton and Hove.

The aim was to determine the extent to which the POCAR programme improves outcomes and brings about lasting change for POCAR clients and their children; and the long-term savings to the State.  BOP also wanted to understand how their model can be developed and whether multi-agency working enhances the skills of social workers and other professionals and therefore the overall effectiveness of the programme.

Applying Social Return on Investment (SROI) principles, NEF Consulting created Theories of Change (ToC) for clients, their children and unborn children, professionals and the State. Three case studies illustrate pathways through which individual behaviour change leads to wider economic outcomes for the State.

A value for money analysis highlighted the likely economic benefits to the State the programme creates:

  • The POCAR Programme helps reduce the number of cases with Child Protection Plans by 53% within 3 months of completing the programme and by 85% within 12 months of completing the programme.
  • The POCAR programme supports significant numbers of parents towards caring for their own children safely and averts the need for them to become looked after by the local authority.
  • Changes arising from the POCAR programme occur swiftly, with the majority of transitions in social care status taking place within 3 months of completing the programme.

The report highlights that significant savings to the State that can be achieved through preventing the long term removal of children from their parents.  Cost savings from case management of 135 children were conservatively estimated to be £1.1 million. However, the largest benefit is for the children who are able to remain in or return to, their mothers’ care, rather than being in local authority care.

Key conclusions

  • For POCAR clients and their children, participation in the programme contributes to their wellbeing.
  • Outcomes for children are highly contingent on the outcomes for their mother e.g. positive long-term outcomes for children are likely if mothers reduce or abstain from substance misuse.
  • The programme helps safeguard both the short and long term outcomes for children, as well as supporting a significant number of mothers in being able to more safely parent their children.
  • For professionals, there is evidence of improved professional partnerships and increased understanding of the recovery process.

The findings suggest that there is a strong value-for-money argument for the POCAR programme. It generates significant savings to the State by reducing the need for social services intervention and the number of children being looked after, as well as reducing healthcare and offending related costs.

Download the report here.