Commissioning in Ireland: exploring the landscape for child and family services: a literature review.
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Shaw, A. and Canavan, J. (2016) Commissioning in Ireland: Exploring the Landscape for Child and Family Services; A Literature Review. Galway: UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway.
In 2014, Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, published the first nationally developed commissioning strategy for child and family services in the Republic of Ireland. The strategy defines commissioning as ‘the process of deciding how to use the total resources available for children and families in order to improve outcomes in the most efficient, equitable, proportionate and sustainable way’ (Gillen et al., 2013: 1). This purpose of this review of the literature on commissioning is to provide an overview of practices in other jurisdictions and to draw on lessons from international experience that highlight both the opportunities and challenges encountered. The learning is intended to inform the direction and implementation of the current strategy within Tusla. The material focuses on three classifications of literature, namely: public sector commissioning, encompassing health and social services generally; commissioning in children’s services; and experiences of the voluntary sector in transitioning to a commissioning approach. In general, the term ‘commissioning’ is not widely used in North American and European contexts; rather, it is assumed under a broader agenda of contracting and externalisation (Rees, 2013; Martikke and Moxham, 2010). While the principles upon which commissioning is based – primarily performance-based measurement and the need for evidence – have generated broad bodies of literature, the scope of this review is primarily confined to literature specific to commissioning. To some extent, however, debates arising in the context of commissioning resonate with wider themes, including areas such as non-profit accountability, and are incorporated where appropriate.1
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