With the support of the Bertelsmann Stiftung, the district of Osnabrück is using a Social Impact Bond (SIB) for the first time. The SIB will help expand family assistance services for parents and improve the efficiency of these services. The district of Osnabrück is thus embarking on a whole new method for financing: the project will be pre-financed by a social investor and implemented with the help of additional partners. Only once the goals defined by the district of Osnabrück are attained will the investor have their money returned to them, along with a risk compensation. Public funding that is saved by the district of Osnabrück when the project is successful will be retained in the child services budget, where it can be used for future prevention programmes.
Strenghtening prevention in family assistance programmes
In 2014, over a million young people and their families received family assistance. The prevalence of socio-pedagogic family assistance has been increasing for years. Despite the existence of numerous preventive parenting programmes that have proven more effective and faster in helping some of the affected families, the potential of these programmes has scarcely been tapped. This is due, in part, to the high costs and risks connected with introducing these programmes. The SIB has given the district of Osnabrück a new opportunity to test the Triple P parenting programme that has been successfully implemented in over 25 countries. Selected parents who are entitled to family assistance services are now being granted access to Triple P parenting courses. These include programmes of varying intensity that give parents precisely the assistance they need. The district of Osnabrück hopes to thus provide parents with better help more quickly so that they no longer require assistance.
The goals of the project are ambitious; it will be a true test, as Germany has had very little experience with SIBs. The family assistance planning procedure used to select the appropriate families and their training programme is very rigorous. Specialised professionals from Lega S Jugendhilfe are being trained to implement the programme with the families entitled to the support.
Testing Social Impact Bonds as a new financial instrument
The Bertelsmann Stiftung wants to use the pilot project to test the potential of SIBs as a new financial Instrument and driver for innovation for social projects. Brigitte Mohn, member of the executive board at Bertelsmann Stiftung, believes that it is essential to explore new forms of cooperation for the public sector, social investors, and service providers in order to establish a new culture of social innovation:
This does not mean questioning existing social services. Instead, additional resources should be mobilised to complement existing family assistance services. The non-profit analysis and consultation organisation Phineo helped to develop the project, and will act as its central coordinator.
For more information on the pilot project “Stärkung von Prävention in den Hilfen zur Erziehung” (Strengthening prevention in family assistance programmes), please download our information brochure!