Data for schools-based intervention

As one of the TRAIN@Ed programme fellows, Sarah Galey had the opportunity to work with the Intensive Family Support Service (IFSS) to understand the network effect of school-based support systems.

The former high school social studies teacher had completed her PhD in education policy and wanted to continue her research into school support at a post-doctoral level.

Throughout the experience, Galey found herself adjusting her plans to cope with the unexpected arrival of COVID and the restrictions it placed on education.

“What we had planned to do differed from what we ended up doing, but everybody was adjusting, it wasn’t just me, and we worked really well together,” she said. “Overall, the TRAIN@Ed Fellowship ended up meeting my expectations in terms of getting the type of hands-on experience I was really looking for and doing a lot more applied social network analysis and applied research. It was really fantastic.”

Working alongside Capital City Partnerships (CCP), Sarah worked on the project for three years. After the first year, Dr. Galey produced an interim report that detailed a social network analysis of a geographically dispersed programme where all the services worked really well together. They were creating a community that supported professional development.

“Even though it was six different service delivery providers across six different regions, the social network analysis really demonstrated that the IFSS programme was working, and we were able to use it to bring to funders and people that were trying to understand what was happening with the grant,” she said.

At that point it became clear that it would be more useful to detail substantive recommendations which would affect the next stage of the programme, and the organising body agreed.

“I felt like the work had an actual impact on the policy, which was cool,” Galey said.

“One of our findings was: the narrower the engagement criteria were, the better the service was. So if they were more specific and more targeted, you ended up with a much better service delivery, at least qualitatively.”

The report also recommended changes to some of the key performance indicators, as the programme was designed to support financial inclusion. Caseworkers had indicated that some measurements didn’t reflect reality, so modifications were suggested, including assessment criteria for embedded services.

“Generally, I can take my data and go and publish, but you don’t always feel with research like you’ve completed something, it feels like it’s constantly ongoing sometimes. But this was a good example of a long-term project and I feel fulfilled. I feel like I did something, and that had an effect. If it just ended there, I would feel very satisfied with the experience, and I think that the people at CCP would say the same,” Galey said.

Photo of paper cut out of family figures with linking hands

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