Measuring child outcomes in disability services: A survey for carers

Dr Caroline Hart1, Dr Stella Koritsas1, Dr Nick Hagiliassis1

1Scope, Melbourne, Australia

The move toward individualised funding has led to a need to demonstrate the effectiveness of disability services. There is, however, a lack of surveys that can be used for this purpose. The aim of this research was to adapt an existing outcomes survey that had been developed for use with adults, so that it can be used to measure the impact of disability services on children/ young people (0-14 years).

Four focus groups with 21 carers of children/ young people with a range of disabilities including intellectual disability, and 10 individual interviews with disability professionals, were conducted to make initial adaptations to the original outcomes survey. The adapted survey was then tested nationally with 215 carers. Twelve disability professionals completed a content evaluation form.

Initial analyses indicate that the adapted survey (which measures outcomes related to physical and emotional wellbeing, the environment, as well as social, family, everyday, recreational, educational and spiritual/ religious life) has sound psychometric properties, such as good internal consistency (Cronbach alpha coefficient of .93). Preliminary qualitative results show that some carers and disability professionals query the inclusion of spiritual/ religious life as a life domain that could be impacted by disability services.

As a result of this research, disability organisations will have access to an evidence-based survey that can be used to assess outcomes for children and young people with disability. Organisations can use outcomes data to inform service development. Carers can use information from an outcomes survey to assess the effectiveness of a service or support.


Dr Caroline Hart completed a PhD in Sociology at Monash University in June 2019. She has over 15 years of experience of conducting research in both academic and non-academic settings, specifically in the areas of disability and mental health.