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The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is a new initiative that seeks better outcomes for children, young people and families by bringing the best available evidence to practitioners and other decision makers across the children’s social care sector.

Our mission is to foster a culture of evidence-informed practice.

We will generate evidence where it is found to be lacking, improve its accessibility and relevance to the practice community, and support practice leaders (e.g. principal social workers, heads of service, assistant directors and directors) to create the conditions for more evidence-informed practice in their organisations.

Our scope

The Centre’s scope will include support for children from the point of referral through to permanence, including adoption, care-leaver support and targeted early help. We will focus on children’s social care practice in England and draw on and share learning at the international level.

Initially, the Centre will have as its priority children’s social work practitioners and decision-makers working in the statutory system. We anticipate broadening this focus in future to include all those working in children’s social care, including the private and voluntary sectors, residential homes, healthcare, policing and policy.

What we will do

Commissioned by the Department for Education, the Centre is currently being set up by a development team (led by Nesta) and its research partner (CASCADE at Cardiff University). The value of the initial contracts to 2020 is c£10m.

The Centre will become a fully independent organisation by summer 2020, but we will publish early research and opportunities to get involved on this website during our development. This is a beta or early version of our website. We will develop it over time and are actively engaging with the sector on this.

Engagement and co-design are central to our approach. We are working in close consultation with leaders, practitioners, children, young people, families and researchers across the sector to:

  • Identify gaps in the evidence, and create new evidence through trials and evaluations
  • Collate, synthesise and review existing evidence
  • Develop, test and publish tools and services that support the greater use of evidence and inform the design of the future Centre
  • Champion the application of robust standards of evidence in children’s social care research.

Sign up to find out, more including how to get involved

Who's involved

Development team

Research partner