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Evaluation of the Heartlands Service Initiative

By Floyd Knight,2014-04-30 19:37
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Evaluation of the Heartlands Service Initiativethe,The

    Evaluation of the

    Heartland Services Initiative

    Prepared by

    The Family, Child, Youth and Community

    Research and Evaluation Unit

    Prepared for

    Centre for Social Research and Evaluation

    Te Pokapū Rangahau Arotaki Hapori

    October 2004

Heartland Services Golden Bay (Takaka)

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Contents

    IntroductionTU ......................................................................................................................... 1UT Evaluation approachTU .............................................................................................................. 1UT AwarenessTUUT ........................................................................................................................... 3 Effect of signage on awarenessTUUT ............................................................................................. 3

    Branding and nameTU ....................................................................................................... 5UT Effect of location on awarenessTUUT ............................................................................................. 6 Effect of different advertising practices on awarenessTUUT ............................................................ 7 Contribution of the Heartland Services website to awarenessTUUT ................................................ 8 Other strategic inputsTU ............................................................................................................ 9UT SummaryTU ..............................................................................................................................UT 9 PlaceTU ..............................................................................................................................UT.... 10 Effect of location and space on serviceTU ................................................................................ 10UT

    TUGovernment agencies ................................................................................................. 12UT

    TUEffect of the building on signage.................................................................................. 12UT

    TUSafety ......................................................................................................................... 12UT Effect of locating in community or government officesTU .......................................................... 13UT

    TUEffect of office location on perception of target group .................................................. 14UT

    TUEffect of competing service roles ................................................................................. 16UT SummaryTU ............................................................................................................................ 1UT7 PeopleTU ..............................................................................................................................UT.. 18 Interpretation of the coordinator roleTU .................................................................................... 18UT TUNeeds of coordinators and effect on service delivery ........................................................... 19UT

    TUSickness and leave cover ............................................................................................ 19UT

    Hours of operationTU ...................................................................................................... 19UT

    TUPay rates .................................................................................................................... 19UT

    TUTraining ...................................................................................................................... 20UT Heartland Services usersTUUT..................................................................................................... 21

    TUVisiting agencies ......................................................................................................... 21UT

    TUOther usersUT ................................................................................................................. 22 Does Heartland Services help to build social capital?TU .......................................................... 22UT TUServing the community ........................................................................................................ 25UT Operational policyTU ............................................................................................................. 26UT Availability of office and computing equipmentTU ..................................................................... 27UT Continuity of serviceTU ............................................................................................................ 27UT Collection of performance statisticsTU ..................................................................................... 27UT Branding, strategic mission and visionTU ................................................................................. 28UT

    TUMission statement ....................................................................................................... 28UT Interagency collaborationTU .................................................................................................... 28UT Experiencing the Heartland ServiceTU ................................................................................. 29UT AppendixTU ........................................................................................................................... 31UT

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Executive summary

Heartland Services

Heartland Service centres are “one-stop shops” from which rural New Zealanders can access

    a range of Government, and other related services. Heartland Service centres have been established in 28 rural centres around New Zealand. Heartland Services is an interagency initiative led and operated by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).

    The results of the evaluation of the Heartland Services initiative show that it is working well:

    ; Support for voluntary groups has improved slightly in service centre areas.

    Some sites do a lot for voluntary groups while the others do very little. This is usually

    because of the site itself (such as location) rather than the services provided.

    ; Access to government services for rural people has improved in service centre areas.

    A major benefit of Heartland Services has been to relieve the barrier of long trips to

    the major centres.

    ; Inter-agency collaboration has improved to aid access to government services for

    rural communities. Some agencies have been collaborating and combining their

    efforts to provide better services to their common clients.

Awareness

    Awareness about Heartland Services needs to be improved. The evaluation found awareness to be low overall. In some areas, key organisations and community groups, such as the Salvation Army and the local library, did not know about the service.

    Residents in areas where the Heartland office is located in a community-based building have higher awareness than those in areas with other types of Heartland sites (refer to Place

    below). Work and Income and Courts based sites have the lowest levels of community awareness. Each site exhibited differing levels of awareness amongst the local population.

    The signage on many of the Heartland buildings is small and inadequate for the tasks of signifying, promoting, and describing Heartland Services. This is a particular problem for offices based in Work and Income sites. All the signage is based around the name “Heartlands” and the logo. Neither describes the purpose of the service and, because awareness is low, both are interpreted with ambiguity.

    We recommend that the signage on the buildings be enlarged and prominently located.

    Each Heartland office has an annual budget of $500 for advertising. Given the low awareness we observed, this amount could be increased. However, any increase should occur following some planning about the best ways to increase awareness and by sharing some of the advertising innovation and good practice we observed as part of the evaluation (for example cinema advertising).

    We recommend that an advertising strategy be developed which addresses budget and branding issues.

    A helpful amendment to the branding could be a more action-orientated description of the service perhaps deriving from a mission statement. A mission statement and vision statement about the service would be useful steps to raise the profile of Heartland Services and remove doubt about its purpose.

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    A good mission statement guides the development of strategies, sets boundaries on strategic options, and establishes the context within which daily operational decisions are made. A good vision statement shows where the organisation is heading. It is developed from the perspective of the client or customer, and is brief, focused and inspirational for employees.

    We recommend that mission and vision statements be created to provide clarity and direction for the service.

Place

     1234The choice of site type (Work and IncomeTP, community-basedPTTP, separatePTTP or CourtsPTTP) is PT

    important to the service clients receive. The evaluation indicates that the best type of site is a community-based Heartland centre followed by one based in a separate building. There are some benefits to having a centre located with Work and Income and Courts (for example security and availability of equipment), but the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.

    Feelings of security are higher at Work and Income and Courts buildings because they already have established measures in place. Some community sites have security alarms but many have only minimal provision in this regard.

    We recommend that a review of security arrangements at all Heartland centres be undertaken to ensure consistency.

    Some people have indicated that locating a Heartland centre within a Work and Income site deterred them from visiting. Community groups also appear to be less likely to utilise a Heartland centre located in a Work and Income site than one located in a community site.

    We recommend that community-based or separate buildings are the preferred location for future Heartland centres.

     1TP Work and Income sites are those Heartlands that are based in a Work and Income office. Of the 23 PT

    Heartlands involved in the evaluation, 11 were Work and Income based. 2TP Community-based sites are those Heartlands that are located within a pre-existing community facility, PT

    for example, Heartlands in Takaka. 3TP Separate means owned, rented or leased by the Ministry of Social Development for the specific PT

    purpose of housing Heartlands, for example, the Heartlands in Murupara. 4TP Courts-based sites are those based in a Department for Courts building and run on a joint basis with PT

    MSD. The only two examples of this site type are Westport and Ruatoria. The Department for Courts merged with the Ministry of Justice on 1 October 2003.

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People

Coordinators are the most important element of Heartland Services. The coordinators

    performance directly impacts on clients. Coordinators with a background in community work seem to do the best.

    Coordinators would like to receive training from the various agencies that visit the Heartland centre in order to improve their familiarity with the services and functions of government agencies. They would also like to have more training and support to perform better in their role.

    Coordinators who are in sole charge of their Heartland centre experience problems finding cover or relief when they are sick or otherwise unable to come to work. This can result in temporary closure of the Heartland office.

    We recommend that more support and training be given to coordinators by the Ministry of Social Development‟s Family and Community Services Unit and other agencies.

    Those living in the community asked that the hours be extended. Most Heartland centres are open from 10.00 am to 4.30 pm. They could be open outside business hours.

    We recommend that thought be given to extending the opening hours of the Heartland centres to outside of business hours

    Another prominent issue that needs to be addressed to improve the quality of service from Heartland centres is maintaining privacy for clients and meeting the needs of visiting agencies.

    The agencies often need more equipment and infrastructural services, such as separate phone lines. These can be harder to get in Work and Income and Courts buildings due to their 5existing business protocols.TPPT

Social capital denotes the collective value of all social networks and the tendency that 6arises from these networks to do things for each otherTP. The Heartland Services are a means PT

    of building linking social capital (a type of social capital where the social networks involved 7span differences in status and power)TP. By improving links between rural communities and PT

    Government, Heartland Services has the potential to build linking social capital.

     5TP At the time of writing, this problem is being resolved as a matter of policy to create continuity for PT

    agencies. All sites should now or soon have a separate phone line for agencies and other resources. 6TP Robert Putnam, PTBowling Alone (2001). 7TPAn example often cited is having a friend in a high position who helps you to find and/or secure PT

    employment.

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Operational policy

    Credit was given by those interviewed for the evaluation to those who manage the Heartland initiative and the community groups who are contracted to provide the service. They have achieved national coverage and provide of a good standard of service. Government has set 8aside a total of $3.704mTP to establish 25 Heartland Services PT at the time of writing, there are

    28 centres in operation, with two more about to be opened.

    Issues were raised during the evaluation around the working conditions of the coordinators.

We recommend that a review of the following areas be undertaken:

    ; remuneration and conditions (especially safety, sickness and leave cover) for

    coordinators

    ; service infrastructure (for example telephone lines, additional or replacement computers).

    Another issue raised was that of a lack of consistency of service across the sites. Some sites offer services that others do not. Ideally, all centres should be able to offer similar services.

     8TP Source: Heartlands newsletter, May 2002. This does not include $0.44m for annual operational costs. PT

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Introduction

    In this report, we show that Heartland Services is fulfilling the goal of bringing government services back into rural centres. There is room for improvement, however, and strategic planning to capitalise on the good start Heartland Services has made.

The evaluation addressed three main questions.

    1. Has support for voluntary groups improved in service centre areas?

    2. Has access to government services for community residents improved in service centre

    areas?

    3. Has interagency collaboration improved to aid access to government services for rural

    communities?

    The evaluation addressed these questions through a detailed consideration of: ; awareness

    ; place

    ; people

    ; operational policy.

Background

    The aim of the Heartland Service is to ensure that government services are accessible to residents in rural areas and to support local community groups.

     9In November 2000 Cabinet approved the concept of the Heartland Services InitiativeTP. The PT

    aims set out for the service were to:

    ; improve access to government services for people in rural areas

    ; improve interagency collaboration

    ; support community/voluntary agencies in rural areas.

In Budget 2001, for 16 Heartland Services, Cabinet approved $0.453 in 2001/02, $0.606 in 102002/03, $0.606 in 2003/04, $0.606 in 2004/05 and outyearsTP. In Budget 2002, for a further 9 PT

    sites, Cabinet approved $0.441 in 2002/03, $0.331 in 2003/04, $0.331 in 2004/05, $0.331 in 112005/06, and outyearsTP. In Budget 2003, for a further 5 sites and a trial of two special-PT

    purpose centres in urban locations, Cabinet approved $0.374 in 2003/04, $0.325 in 2004/05, 12$0.325 in 2005/06, $0.325 in 2006/07, and outyearsTP. PT

    The first sites were opened in 2001. There are currently 28 Heartland Centres operating around the country, three more than first planned. Two more urban centres are soon to be opened.

    An evaluation of the Service sponsored by the Chief Executive of MSD commenced in April 2003.

    Evaluation approach

    The approach adopted for the evaluation was to focus on the awareness of Heartland Services and aspects of its operation. Corroborating evidence about the performance of Heartland Services was sought from coordinators, service managers, key community representatives, government agency representatives (as clients of the service), and local residents (as clients and potential clients of the service).

     9TP CAB (00) M 38/1A(1) PT10TP CAB Min (01)12/6(41) refers PT11TP CAB Min (02)12/8(48) refers PT12TP CAB Min (03)13/9 (47) refers PT

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    The methodology for the evaluation involved a combination of census, random, snowballing and convenience sampling techniques as befitted the type of questions asked, the availability of sample frames and resources. Structured and unstructured interviewing techniques and direct observation were employed, again according to the nature of the questions to be asked.

The evaluation was based on the following data sources.

    1. A structured telephone survey of the coordinators who were in offices opened when the

    evaluation commenced in April 2003 (n = 24).

2. A structured telephone survey of the managers who were in offices opened when the 13evaluation commencedTP in April 2003 (n = 21). PT

    3. A structured telephone survey of community groups. Two hundred and twenty-three

    groups of a possible 441 identified as being in the vicinity of all 24 Heartland sites were

    interviewed. The sample was randomly selected within each of the 23 Heartland areas.

4. Unstructured face-to-face interviews with

    ; Heartland coordinators

    ; Heartland managers

    ; local key informants (for example local government, REAP (Rural Education

    Activities Programme)

    ; government agency representatives.

    The interviews were undertaken across seven sites: Westport, Takaka, Kawerau, Murupara, Dargaville, Kaitaia and Taupo. The sites included each of the four different site types (Work and Income, community, separate and Courts).

    5. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews with a convenience sample of 155 residents

    during our site visits (approx. 26 residents per site).

    6. Direct observation of public and coordinator interaction, site layout, advertising and

    signage at the Westport, Takaka, Kawerau, Murupara, Dargaville, Kaitaia and Taupo

    sites.

    Key informants, residents and government representatives were provided with an assurance of anonymity and confidentiality. With the agreement of respondents, some exceptions to this assurance were made because occasionally the issue under discussion immediately identified respondents. For example, comments about the outfitting and dimensions of a particular office.

A detailed methodology is presented in the appendix.

     13TP The manager of Heartlands Taumaranui was unavailable for the survey, Heartlands Turangi and PT

    Heartlands Taupo have the same manager, and Heartlands Kawerau has two managers.

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Awareness

    If people are not aware of Heartland Services, they cannot use it. Overall, awareness about Heartland Services amongst the communities we visited appears low. Awareness seems to vary by site type. Work and Income sites have higher community awareness than Courts-based sites but both have lower awareness levels than community-based sites. Naturally, each individual site also has differing levels of community awareness. Levels of awareness ranged widely, from 10% through to 100%.

    How people become aware of Heartland Services varied by site. This variation accorded with the most popular advertising medium. For example, people from some areas were more avid readers of their local newspaper and, correspondingly, close to 100% of respondents had heard of Heartland Services through that medium. At other sites, people heard of Heartland Services when they went into the building for a different service, for example another community service, optician, or Work and Income. This suggests that any future advertising strategy will need to build upon local tactical knowledge about the best advertising channels.

Effect of signage on awareness

Signage is a significant feature of any enterprises advertising strategy. It can be a cost-

    effective way of cultivating long-term awareness and marketing services or products. Good signs should promote something about the image of the enterprise and communicate clearly the type of services or products available. Signs are also geographic markers and can be used to communicate the location of an enterprise to new clients or customers.

    One means of increasing awareness of Heartland Services is through the signage outside the building. A big sign displaying the Heartlands title will tell people what is in the building and,

    if they hear the name later, they will know where it is. Some of the signage we viewed did not do this. In particular, at the Work and Income offices we visited, the street signage was at best minimal.

    The Kaitaia Heartland centre had a similar small sign to the one pictured in Figure 1 (Dargaville) on their street-level windows. Both Kaitaia and Dargaville were clearly, first and foremost, Work and Income buildings. However, signage problems are not restricted to Work and Income buildings. In Kawerau (Figure 2), the Heartland centre is located in a community building, and their signage is also minimal.

    I think the main thing would be to get maybe a bigger signpost for Heartlands

    because Work and Income has a very nice big post, you know, signpost for them. The

    Heartlands sign is underneath but the square is, I wouldnt think its eye catching, if

    you know what I mean. Maybe if the sign was a bit bigger it might stand out and just

    get people more aware of where were located.

    Heartland Services coordinator

    Though the roadside sign at Kawerau is large, it is difficult to read from the road owing to its colouring and placement. Figure 2 also shows that the largest element on these signs is the Heartland Services logo. Building awareness through signage using an enterprises logo

    makes sense in combination with other branding strategies. Over the long term the signage can capitalise on short-term focused advertising strategies to promote the Heartlands logo.

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