Social Sector Trials

The Minister for Social Development has announced changes to the Social Sector Trial Model.

What are the Social Sector Trials?

The Trials are a community-based approach aimed at improving the way government plans, funds and delivers social services. They involve transferring the control of resources including funding, decision making authority and accountability for results from government agencies to a Trial lead in the local community. The Trial lead is supported by an advisory group made up of local stakeholders, including local agency representatives.

The Trials aim to:

  • reduce offending
  • reduce levels of alcohol and other drug abuse
  • reduce truancy rates; and
  • increase participation in education, training and employment

The Trials initially began in six rural communities in March 2011 and are currently operating in 16 communities around New Zealand. The Trials are supported at a national, regional and local level by the Ministries of Education, Health, Justice, Social Development and the New Zealand Police.

What’s Changing?

The Trials are now coming to a close.

Where successful, the SST will transition from a community-influenced model to a community-led model with a less narrow focus for the delivery of services.

The remaining SST locations will cease to be funded on 1 July 2016, because performance to date means that exit is appropriate.

What Happens next?

The vast majority of initiatives coordinated under the SST umbrella are new to communities as a result of the Trial model (leadership, needs identification, funding, coordination, mandate etc.) and next steps for these programmes and services will ensure a smooth transition.

The transition process is expected to include:

  • a six month transition phase in sites identified for transition. A Trial Lead will be retained to facilitate a process with their advisory group to determine what a long term model would like, or integration, or exit. A line by line review of current SST elements, both coordination and programmes/services will be undertaken locally to support the process. Some current programmes and services will be continued while this process is going on and a small level of contract funding is provided to support this.
  • A transition phase across May – June 2016 is envisaged in sites where Trials are ending 30 June 2016. A line by line review of current SST elements, both coordination and programmes/services, will be undertaken locally to support the process. Local processes through advisory groups will support the transition of children, young people and other services users where possible. The SST leads is funded until June 2016 and government agency support in these sites beyond 30 June 2016 has been mandated – but ongoing agency engagement will be locally determined.

Trials to be transitioned to locally-led leadership

  • Where they are performing well, the Trials are now sufficiently embedded in the communities to be managed locally- going from a community-influenced model to a community- led model.
  • This will further enable these locations to move beyond being a ‘Trial’ to adapt and customise programmes and services to meet their local community’s needs.
  • Ongoing government agency support (including a key agency support person regionally), will be in place for six months to assist the SSTs to make a successful transition.
  • This support will enable communities to r4eview programmes and services and structures that these sites have in place to establish how they might continue in future.
  • The details of the transition will be different for each community. We expect that it will involve discussions with Councils, NGOs and government agencies.
  • The 11 sites being supported to transition to a locally led model by 31 December 2016 are:
    • South Waikato, Kaikohe, Gisborne, Waitomo, Taumarunui, Kawerau, Horowhenua, Porirua, South Dunedin and Ranui.

The strengths of these trials include:

  • long standing provider (broad spectrum) support
  • a large and varied work programme, in many cases resulting in a better mix of programmes and services
  • their high visibility through hubs, staff, programmes and services- a distinct community presence
  • their positive impact on the community and their effectiveness in implementing a coordinated approach to social services across issues including offending, school attendance, education/employment and training
  • the coordination and working relationships that have been developed and are embedded and the considerable local commitment to continuing to work in this way.

Trials to be exited

Trials in five sites will be ended in 30 June 2016:

  • Whakatane, Rotorua, Waikato, South Taranaki and Wairarapa. These sites have been in place since July 2013
  • These are locations where the new way of working has been less successful and they are not making as much difference as expected. In these cases it is difficult to justify continue funding.
  • The reasons behind the exits are wide-ranging, but were in no way a reflection of the local leadership; rather any lack of success was despite the best efforts of all involved.
  • Broadly the challenges identified were:
    • in some areas there are other programmes currently operating in the community that are already working towards improved outcomes, resulting in a ‘crowding’ that has reduced traction in the community
    • where the Trials operated across a large and diverse area-particularly where there is a high number of small communities widely spread, the trials have been difficult to embed.
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