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Real-Time Evaluation of the Care in the Community Welfare Response

Findings from a real-time evaluation of the Care in the Community welfare response

The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) is responsible for coordinating the locally-led, regionally-enabled, and nationally supported Care in the Community (CiC) welfare response. The CiC response was initially established to meet the welfare needs of people required to isolate under the COVID-19 Protection Framework, following the Omicron outbreak in 2021. The response has been adapted over time to support communities to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

The Care in the Community welfare response presented a unique opportunity for MSD to learn from and continuously improve how we partner and deliver welfare support in crises. We designed a real-time evaluation - a rapid approach to data collection that was implemented as part of the response - that collected and used information to inform organisational decision making in real time.

The real-time evaluation was conducted between March and August 2022.


Online and face-to-face interviews captured information from a small number of:

  • Regional Public Service Commissioners, Directors, and Advisors
  • Regional Leadership Group members
  • Community providers
  • Community Connectors
  • People who received CiC welfare support

Information was collected across three cycles and key themes were identified. Findings reports were developed for each cycle.

Key findings

The real-time evaluation found that:

  • The welfare response involved a collective and coordinated effort across national, regional, and local partners
  • Community providers and Community Connectors were instrumental to delivering the response
  • Timely and tailored food support helped build trusting relationships and surfaced wider welfare needs
  • Individuals, families and whānau reported they would have struggled to cope without welfare support
  • Responding to demand placed significant strain on all partners in the response
  • Relational and flexible contracting enabled support to be responsive to the priorities of individuals, families and whānau.


It is important to note that findings reflect the views of participants in the real-time evaluation. Because people self-selected to take part, findings may not be applicable to other people or groups involved in delivering or receiving support through the welfare response. They cannot be used to draw conclusions about the effectiveness, efficiency, or value for money of the response.

Next steps

An outcomes-focused evaluation of the CiC welfare response is currently underway. This will capture comprehensive information about the outcomes achieved during the response, including for a large representative sample of people who received support. Lessons for the delivery of future locally-led, regionally-enabled and nationally supported approaches aiming to build and sustain community wellbeing will also be identified. Findings are expected by the end of 2023.

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