Our work with referred families has consistently helped highly troubled children and families overcome trauma and lead more positive lives. Many children and young people have been able to progress with a more positive outlook in school, at home and in the community. They learn how to express their feelings in non-destructive ways, build relationships with their peers, and relate to others without conflict whilst gaining new skills and interests. Crucially, supportive and caring therapeutic staff and volunteers provide positive role models and present a caring model of adulthood for children to aspire to, sometimes following years of negative experiences. Regular evaluation of our work indicates that children and young people are less fearful, are able to self regulate their behaviour and manage their feelings, and gain a belief that they are able to achieve in life.
“Despite many years of Mental Health input from medical agencies for all members of this family, the one intervention that has truly worked is the Dandelion Project. We have seen a remarkable transition of all family members with an increase in their confidence, and significant improvement in their relationships within the past few months”. S. Johnson, Community Mental Health Nurse
Over the 14 years our unique approach has proved successful for many families. We monitor and score a range of outcomes individually for children, assessed through child/family feedback, session records, staff observations and feedback from professionals. The project has continued to bring about positive changes in personal outcomes for most of the children attending.
As a result of attending Dandelion Time’s programme, over 12 month period to October 2017:
- 93% of children had improved emotional well being and decreased symptoms (eg anxiety/aggression) as a result of participating in the programme
- 78% of children were better able to communicate and empathise with those around them, through family work and group activities where they worked alongside their peers
- 57% had better behaviour in school and were more confident at school, a key aim of the programme
- 81% of children had stronger relationships with their parent/s or carers as a result of the programme, which is vital in helping to ensure that the child has ongoing support when they leave the programme.
Dandelion Time uses a variety of approaches to measure outcomes, many are qualitative and cannot be presented here. Outcomes that can be quantified include:
- Individual outcomes which are a mixture of the caseworker’s observations over the period of intervention and feedback from the parent or carers on exit;
- goal based outcomes from goals set by parents or carers and older children on entry and exit these individual family goals have been grouped by our evaluator to a number of generic outcomes according to the nature of the goal; and
- score 15, an assessment measure distributed by the Association of Family Therapists Families tell us of the positive and sustainable change in their lives when supported by engagement at Dandelion Time.
Individual Outcomes quantify the percentage of children who have made positive change
Dandelion Time is grateful to the referred families who have shown courage to engage and trust in the Project’s therapeutic and developmental programme.
Independent evaluation of the service (Research Centre for Children, Schools and Families, University of Greenwich, 2011 Carl Parsons Report) shows dramatic improvements in emotional wellbeing and conduct in referred children.
Demand for the service from professionals across health and social care settings continues to increase year on year, and we currently support around 95 children and their families per year, as well as offering several hundred local children with an opportunity to experience farm and craft activities.
In 2014, Dandelion Time was externally evaluated by Ascolta Research and we were delighted that the findings confirmed our internal measures of outcomes. In interviews, children and families were honest about their Dandelion Time journey and reminded us how dating the first visit can be.
The report concluded that “overall Dandelion Time appears to offer these vulnerable children and their families a window into a happy, safe world, where they are valued and made to feel that anything is achievable. The outcome is a long lasting sense of hope and greater resilience that better equips these traumatised young people to cope in a difficult world”.
As well as therapeutic benefits, the activities offer positive social and educational experiences which provide a rich and varied base upon which children and young people can broaden their life skills and opportunities. They achieve this by discovering their talents and exploring new interests which, with help from peer and adult mentors, can be transferred into hobbies and activities in community settings.