Oversight or Overkill? The challenges of maintaining and developing an integrated, holistic and responsive approach to the drugs issue in our communities with current funding requirements and oversight. November 2015
Community drug projects have been dealing with: • Significant budget cuts • A concurrent increase in the volume and complexity of paperwork and compliance requirements • As well as contract related documents, projects are required to engage with NDRIC protocols, QUADS, ENCASS, Logic Model Frameworks etc. A lot of the focus is on numbers…. sometimes the valuable work isn't valued.
Funding of Community Drug Projects • Projects are funded by multiple agencies • An coherent interagency approach which had been valued and noted in successive National Drug Strategies and continues to underpin the implementation of the current strategy, has never been properly implemented. • Current funding mechanism do not reflect the interagency approach. • Community drug projects have expressed serious concerns about the increasing obstacles they are experiencing in trying to deliver an integrated holistic drugs service in the community.
This Research • The concern is that these changes are creating and increasing obstacles to projects who are attempting to deliver an integrated holistic drug service in the community • Therefore, Citywide commissioned research to identify and highlight these obstacles and to look at what changes are needed to support this approach.
Methodology • A survey was sent to all community drug projects on the CityWide data base. • In depth interviews with nine projects. • Desktop research on the context of the situation. • Feedback from the presentation of the initial findings of the research at the workshop (today)
Respondents • A total of 38 community drug projects completed the survey and nine projects were interviewed. • Interviews: 3 GDP, 3 DRP and 3 both. • To protect the confidentiality of the respondents, no comment or feedback is being individually attributed to an organisation and /or individual.
How many funders do you have? One quarter of the respondents had one primary funder the other 75% had at least two or more funders. Of those with more than one funding source the average was three funders per organisation.
Time that the organisation spends on the administrative / monitoring work
43% of the organisations felt that they spent more than 40% of their time on administrative / monitoring elements of their work.
General Issues There is no overall cohesion between the funders and requirements that projects are required to adhere to. Although funders are aware of each other, there is no coordination between the funders at any strategic level. This affects projects in a number of ways: • Quite simply it adds unnecessarily to work load • Different funders are interested in different elements of the information, which means it is difficult to present the holistic picture in any format that is being requested.
General Issues • There are governance issues in relation to how projects are funded. • What is required over the course of a year is often not clear at the start of the year • Terms and conditions of staff, within the one organisation, differ due the rules of the funders.
Half of the organisations felt that there were on top of the requirements, primarily by and large, but half felt that at least some of the time they were not.
Does the organisation see the value of the funding/monitoring requirements?
General Issues The changes in funding, cut backs and the fact that this is complex and at times difficult work, means that staff morale is affected.
HSE • There is no one monitoring system in place • The requirements that projects have to adhere to vary by project, by area, by task force and, it appears, by the HSE liaison person • There is also some confusion about the TF role in relation to the monitoring of HSE monies. • Projects do not know from the start of the year what will be required of them in the course of the year.
HSE • The HSE funding is seen to be the most responsive to the holistic nature of the projects. • They appear to one of the main funders that does not see the funding in silos. • The HSE are aware of the multiple funding streams that come into projects and how that funding is interdependent.
HSE • The HSE and TF are asking for the same information • Where does the information go? • There is a sense that although the HSE are the best in relation to looking for more detailed information, the best of a bad lot in terms of what information is being sought that all that is valued is numbers and despite the fact that the HSE value and recognise a holistic response the monitoring requirements still focus on the ticking of boxes and quantitative outcomes rather than proving the case for a qualitative presentation of the key issues.
HSE The issue remains that there is not enough HSE funding, it has been significantly cut in recent years.
DSP • The DSP criteria is very rigid the primary difficulty being that CE was not designed with DRPs in mind • The CE model is underpinned by a manual, which was developed for generic CE projects: • Impact on Staff • Management • Clients
DRP Issues • Previously, FAS treated funding ‘as a grant towards wages,’ Changed with DSP; Now acting as shadow employer. • What is seen as a supervisor’s role is being restricted and challenged. • ‘Silos’ and only deal with CE clients on specific CE • There are restrictions (trying to enforce restrictions) on staff’s terms and conditions when DSP funded.
DSP • The relationship between the project and their contact in DSP is critical. • This relationship determines how the manual is interpreted and how visible the special nature of the DRP is within the structure. You can’t pick up any document that tells you what a DRP is. Is exisits in practice and not policy, we are in space of functional ambiguity. We just get on with it.
DSP • What you can spend the money on in terms of activities and training is very restricted. • There is also a huge amount of time spent dealing with or negotiating with DSP re permission and to seek approval for things • Specific questions are not answered, and projects described a general frustration trying to get or gather information about anything that is slightly different to the norm
Impact of the changes in the Social Welfare Act 2012. • Clients group has changed fundamentally, instead of an older group of mixed gender, most now have young men involved. • The participants on a DRP are classed as employees! It’s is a recovery programme! This causes problems as they only get seven days’ sick leave.
DSP • DSP are not participating in task forces. • Projects are often monitored on the basis of fraud, or fraud prevention. All of that trouble in FAS years ago (where they were done for fraud) has caused all of this tension and it rolled down hill. • At times projects have been told they will only talk to or deal with CE supervisor, or the sponsor of the project.
Quotes /Feedback • Some requirements seem excessive and are micro management. • Applying the principles as required by our funders for example, value for money, duplication of work etc there is no recognition of the practicalities of compliance across multi stream funding. If we were to be completely compliant we would in fact be reporting outcomes without ever having the time to actually do the work we have agreed to. • Funders constant tone is of not wanting to work with the community voluntary sector.
Quotes /Feedback • The lack of understanding of community drug projects. • There is also a lot of information that is not captured • It is difficult to plan strategically when you are relying on funding from year to year only • Most of the monitoring exercises are reduced to number crunching and quantitative outputs and do not capture early intervention and preventative work.
Quotes /Feedback • Hidden voices get lost in stats • Reporting of softer outcomes are not requested and the reporting itself lend you to feel that the accumulation of certificates is the key outcome that marks out a successful intervention • Complexity of the cases presenting in case management/counselling etc is not reflected in any forms
Positives • They serve to keep us on track with our aims and objectives • Support the organisation to make effective and efficient use of the resources available. • Requirements provide a benchmark and encourage us to keep our work in line with strategic and policy developments, while hopefully not limiting the capacity to respond to emerging needs.
Positives • The introduction of the Logic Model is very helpful in guiding us through the process of ensuring complete clarity of outcomes and purpose of the programme • We can see the amount of work that has been done compared to the funding we received
Recommendations We urgently require one channel of funding, from an organisation that has at least some understanding, empathy and passion for the essential nature of our work (and the nature of interagency work) • How can projects be supported to govern the organisations? • How can projects be supported to deliver an interagency approach?
Our sector is sinking in administration with no two funders requirements similar, an accepted requirement for public funding, must be developed and managed to consume minimum resources in small tightly-staffed organisations.