Good intentions for social interventions are not always enough. Decision-makers need quality evidence to know whether the products or services they develop, invest in or deliver make a positive difference.
The topic of what works (and what does not) is not widely discussed in New Zealand. But this situation is changing. The Government has recently shifted from a social spending approach to one based on social investment. This change aims to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable and requires systematic measurement of social service effectiveness. In New Zealand there is a need to build a learning system by strengthening the quality, use and sharing of evidence about social services, policy formation and evaluation.
This In Focus examines a series of international and national standards of evidence. It provides a high level synthesis of the different approaches to assessing intervention effectiveness, and proposes what a future New Zealand standard of evidence might look like and why.