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National Evaluation of On Track Phase Two Longitudinal Cohort Study Strand

Lead organisations: National Centre for Social Research and Policy Research Bureau


A consortium led by the Policy Research Bureau has been commissioned to conduct the National Evaluation of Phase Two of On Track (2003-2006), an initiative now part of the Children's Fund and administered by Department for Education and Skills. The other consortium members for the evaluation are the National Centre for Social Research and University College London.

On Track, established in 24 areas across England and Wales, was originally devised by the Home Office in 1999 as a pilot or 'demonstration' programme as part of their wider Crime Reduction Programme (CRP). The aim of the CRP is to reduce crime by designing preventative and responsive measures based on researched and evidence-based initiatives that demonstrate what works in crime prevention. The On Track model consists of five "core" types of intervention with families and young people aged 4-12 years old: home visiting, pre-school education, parent support and training, family therapy and family/school partnerships. There is also a further "specialist" category of intervention. The overall aim is to target risk factors for youth crime and boost protective factors. The first phase of the On Track evaluation was conducted by the University of Sheffield (2000-2003).

What did the research focus on?

This strand of the evaluation explored:
  • The range of factors and circumstances which influenced families' decision to take part in the programme and their initial expectations
  • Their experiences of dealing with (different parts of) the project and other agencies, and how and why these might have changed over time
  • Their views on the aspects of the project and types of intervention that have worked well and those that have worked less well
  • The extent to which the range of services needed has been provided
  • At what stage and why service users 'drop out' early from the programme
  • Service users' views on how the programme could be improved and made more responsive to their needs
  • Short and medium term impacts that different types of intervention have had on children, young people and their families, using validated outcome measures
  • The relative impact of receiving single as opposed to multiple services

What did the research involve?

The cohort study followed a panel of On Track service users, residents in On Track areas and residents in comparable, or non-On Track areas, over the course of 12 months from 2004 to 2005.

Data collection was by face-to-face computer-assisted interview, using a combination of validated standardised measures and measures specially designed for the survey. Thus, there were three elements to the sample in the survey:

  • Children and families in On Track areas, identified by household screening
  • Children and families in matched comparison areas, identified by household screening
  • Children and families receiving lower incidence interventions, identified through On Track projects' records ('booster samples')

Timescale and final products of the research

Fieldwork for the study took place in 2004 and 2005.

A report on the first wave was published in 2006, and a final report on both waves will be published in early 2008

See Publications for details

Last updated February 2008