Incredible Years Autism programmes are a recent extension of the basic Incredible Years programmes, with the specific focus on children on the autism spectrum and the caregivers and teachers who support them. IYA is one of several social wellbeing initiatives focused on key adults (i.e. caregivers and teachers/kaiako) in the lives of children aged 2 to 5 years who are either diagnosed with or showing symptoms of autism. Because of these initiatives, it is expected to see children with enhanced social-emotional competence and communication skills, and becoming increasingly engaged. We also expect to see teachers, parents and family/whānau feel more supported and confident, helping improve engagement among their children. Funded by the Ministry of Education, the IYA programmes are provided through regional NGOs, the Ministry or a combination of both. Each IYAP or IYAT programme is delivered by two specially trained and IY-accredited group leaders.

Monitoring IYA

One of the challenges was in measuring these outcomes and in large enough numbers to detect change while we protect and support those that we seek information from. The agreed approach required a measurement system embedded within delivery whereby providers to collect and share relevant information from (consenting) participants and their children. It was essential that any information shared complies with the Ministry’s information management requirements alongside New Zealand’s Privacy Act regulations. With this in mind, we developed the relevant forms alongside an approach for sharing information between the Ministry, programme providers and participants.

An online data management system was developed to address gaps and improve use of data relevant to programme providers, programme participants and the Ministry of Education. Data is being systematically collected and collated through the web app, resulting in remarkably high levels of consent and completion rates across a longitudinal design, and quality monitoring data being used to support the overall success of the programme.

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