TransformAction International

Outcomes that Matter for Children & Young People in Out-of-Home Care

Outcome measurement has become a contemporary requirement for child, youth and family service providers throughout North America, the United Kingdom and Ireland, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, as well as elsewhere. Service providers are required to demonstrate accountability and achieve outcomes associated with personal resilience, as well as addressing funding and policy targets. Cost-effectiveness, care planning, service evaluations and fiscal audits are now commonplace with the aim of improving out-of-home care, education and treatment outcomes. Care outputs are frequently confused with care outcomes. Policy outcomes, service outcomes and developmental outcomes achieved by children and young people in out-of-home care are also frequently confused. While all 3 types of outcome are important, few attempts have been made to systematically monitor and report on developmental outcomes that children and young people achieve during their stays in out-of-home care. These are the outcomes that really matter!

Outcomes that Matter©, also referred to as OTM, involves a framework for recording and reporting about the weekly achievement of resilience outcomes by children and young people in out-of-home care. Whereas most approaches to care recording involve descriptive accounts of events or behaviours which are often negative, the otm approach draws from Carers’ unique 168-hour CCTV capabilities to recall vivid episodes in their daily life experiences with children and young people. This enables Carers to construct short pen picture narratives drawn from the past 7 days that are accompanied by a reflective assessment of how frequently each targeted outcome was being achieved from week to week.

The OTM Recording format employs the Circle of Courage framework of Belonging, Mastery, Independence and Generosity to cluster 20 developmental outcomes that are monitored from week to week. These are drawn from research carried out by the Search Institute with more than 3 million young people then adapted with permission for use with children and young people in out-of-home care. Ten external outcomes focus on achievements in a young person’s daily life at home, at school and in their local community. Ten internal outcomes focus on achievements that are intentionally nurtured through daily life experiences of caring.

At the end of each recording, the four sides of a metaphorical house are used to gather Carer’s summaries about a young person’s achievements around Caring and Sharing within Wider Family Connections (Belonging); around her/his Capacity to Learn & Communicate Thoughts and Feelings (Mastery); his/her Physical Growth & Development towards Self Care and Autonomy (Independence); and her/his Capacity for Happiness, Faith, a Sense of Purpose and Attending to the Needs of Others (Generosity).

Outcomes that Matter© is a training of TransformAction International©, developed by Leon Fulcher, PhD of New Zealand in conjunction with Thom Garfat, PhD of Canada. OTM is closely aligned with the values and principles of the TFAi Therapeutic Use of Daily Life Events training and foundation principles which underpin a contemporary Child and Youth Care approach as well as European traditions of Social Pedagogy. Relationships between Carers, Teachers and other adults with individual children or young people are highlighted throughout with this reflective approach to weekly recording. OTM Achievement Profiles© are thus compiled at 6-12 week intervals for reporting on achievements made by each child or young person in their care.

During this 2-day training, participants will

A 2-day OTM training covers the following content areas: 

1. Resilience for Children, Young People & Families
2. Inputs, Outputs & Outcomes
3. The Circle of Courage & Te Whare Tapa Wha
4. Belonging Outcomes
5. Mastery Outcomes
6. Independence Outcomes
7. Generosity Outcomes
8. Developmental Summaries
9. Constructing OTM Achievement Profiles©
10. Interpreting OTM Achievement Profiles© and Reporting on Outcome Achievements to Others

What participants have said about recording with the OTM approach:

“it helps me remember the good things, like when we went camping”Young person

“it’s more in depth, helps me focus on what I am doing as well as what the child is doing, and helps us see the patterns that are developing” Foster Carer

"I know there is quite a lot involved in filling out the OTM recording forms but if I was employed looking after someone else's money, I would have to account for everything I did with it. Being entrusted with someone else's child deserves even more accountability."
Foster Carer

“It’s main benefit is being child-focused and helping focus practice. I know week to week, day to day what is happening in the placement” – Supervising Social Worker

“the OTM Achievement Profiles© have been extremely useful in evidencing the child’s progress as well as informing Care Planning and Reviews” – Placement Authority Social Worker

“The Achievement Profiles are really helpful and our explanation is that this autistic youngster depends strongly on external routines and familiarities in order to achieve belonging, mastery, independence and generosity; the group holiday break in his routine shook him considerably with somewhat lasting effects. We see our future task to work on introducing changes more frequently with the aim that (if carefully monitored and not detrimental to him) he will learn to rely on himself to an ever greater extent. Totally brilliant!”
Residential School Manager

Read this article – Fulcher, L.C. & Garfat, T. (2013). Outcomes that Matter© for Children and Young People in Out-of-Home Care.
International Journal of Social Pedagogy, 2(1), 30-46. Available online:


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