21 local partners to work with new Centre

24 July 2018

The new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has today announced the names of 21 local authorities and trusts that it will work with to co-develop research, and co-design and test products and services to support the use of evidence.

Following a high level of response to its call for ‘wave 1’ partners, the Centre has selected 21 local authorities and children’s trusts whom it will work with – initially to December 2018.

These initial partners will work with the Centre to:
• co-design and test tools and services that the Centre may deliver to implement evidence
• generate new evidence by identifying promising interventions for more detailed evaluation
• provide advice and support to other partners.

Speaking about the partnerships, Sir Alan Wood, recently-appointed Founding Chair of the Centre, said:

“We are delighted that local authorities and trusts have shown such a high level of interest in working with the Centre. We know that to be effective, the Centre needs to remain close to the ground. These initial partnerships will help and support local leaders and practitioners to ensure that we most effectively meet the needs of children and families. They are not pilot sites. They are partners who will explore, co-design and test promising ideas rapidly with us. That includes ideas for our future products and services to help expand the use of evidence such as online evidence, peer-to-peer networking, and self-evaluation toolkits. And it includes developing insights into the kinds of interventions already being used, and exploring new ideas that could be tested and evaluated in more depth.”

These wave 1 partnerships focus on the key issues that the Centre identified through its initial engagement and research work with key stakeholders. The Centre will share learning from the partnerships as they progress, including what is proving promising, and why and how the approach may have been adapted as a result of what the Centre has learned.

These initial partners have welcomed the opportunity to work with the Centre:

“We’re delighted that our approach to transforming children’s services through The Deal has been recognised and we’ve been invited to become a first wave partner to the Centre. We’re looking forward to collaborating with partners to improve services and ultimately make a real difference to the lives of children and young people.”
Cllr Jenny Bullen, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People’s Services, Wigan Council

“We feel proud in Walsall to have been chosen by the What Works Centre to develop a pioneering partnership in becoming an Evidence Informed Organisation, during this first stage of the Centre’s activity. The timing of this partnership could not have been more ideal as we are in the starting blocks of launching our ‘Right for Children’ transformation programme. Walsall Council sees this as a timely and exciting opportunity to work in partnership to both support and accelerate our transformation journey and enable us to become an evidence informed local authority.”
Cllr Tim Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Children’s and Health and Wellbeing, Metropolitan Borough of Walsall

“We see being a first wave partner with the What Works Centre as a tremendous opportunity to explore new ideas that can be tested, in order to deliver better outcomes for children and be more effective in our practice. We have agreed to focus on ideas around developing the best environment to support social workers to practice well.”
Alastair Gibbons, Director of Operations, Birmingham Children’s Trust

“We are really excited in Bristol to have been selected as a wave one partner working with the new What Works Centre. Partnering with the What Works Centre to promote evidence-informed practice and to better understand how to safely reduce the need for children to come into care will really help us to ensure that we are doing the best for the children and young people in our city.”
Jacqui Jensen, Executive Director, Adults, Children and Education, Bristol City Council

“The transformation of our children’s services is focused on achieving the best possible outcomes for children and families in Bracknell Forest and we are delighted that our approach has led us to being chosen as a wave one partner of the What Works Centre. We are looking forward to working in partnership with the centre to explore how data analysis can be used to help authorities make important decisions which affect the lives of children and young people across the country.”
Nikki Edwards, Director of Children, Young People and Learning, Bracknell Forest Council

“We are really pleased at Doncaster Children’s Services Trust to be working with the What Works Centre as a first wave partner, helping to bring together knowledge from across the country of what really works to improve social work practice. From our own journey from inadequate to good, we have benefited from using evidence based research to improve our standard of practice and the service we deliver to the most vulnerable children and young people here in Doncaster and we hope to support others to do the same.”
Pauline Turner, Director of Performance and Improvement, Doncaster Children’s Services Trust

“We’re excited to be working with national colleagues to support the What Works Centre programme as a wave one partner. We’re keen to develop practice in the Bradford District that is based on evidence and which builds on the work we already do within our Born in Bradford, Better Start Bradford, Opportunity Area and Education Research Centre programmes. All of these initiatives help us to focus our practice on using evidence to deliver what works for children and families.”
Cllr Adrian Farley, Portfolio Holder for Children and Families, City of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council

“We are delighted to be selected to be a first wave partner with What Works to test evidence informed practice so that we can provide an even better service to children and families in Central Bedfordshire, and influence national practice.”
Sue Harrison, Director for Children’s Services, Central Bedfordshire Council

“Bath and North East Somerset Council Children Services are very excited by the opportunity to be a wave one partner with the What Works centre for children’s social care. This is a unique chance to be at the forefront of turning the latest research evidence into everyday social work practice, supporting us to continue to work positively with families to keep children safe.”
Mike Bowden, Corporate Director, Bath and North East Somerset Council

“Surrey children’s services are embarking on a transformational journey of rapid improvement. We are delighted and excited to be a wave one partner of the new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care. This is part of a new approach in Surrey, which is outward looking with our improvement journey driven by research, evaluation and best practice.”
Dave Hill, Executive Director Children, Families and Learning, Surrey County Council

“I’m delighted that our commitment to evidence-led social work practice has been recognised in our selection as a wave one partner contributing to the What Works Centre. The focus of our research will be on assessing the effectiveness of supervision on our decision making and how staff work together to choose the best approach. This work is vital as it will inform how decisions are made to protect and safeguard children and young people, not just in Cambridgeshire but across the UK, to ensure that they receive the best care and can achieve their potential.”
Cllr Simon Bywater, Chairman of the Children and Young People Committee, Cambridgeshire County Council

A call for a second wave of partners will be announced later in the year.

Details of all the wave 1 partners are available in the notes to editors below and on the What Works Centre website’s pages about co-designing with partners.

Further information

Further information on co-designing with partners
Vlog and blog by Sir Alan Wood, Founding Chair of the Centre, on the partnerships
Vlog by Alastair Gibbons, Director of Operations, Birmingham Children’s Trust

Twitter @WhatWorksCSC

Iris Steen or Steve Palmer, Communications Team, SCIE
Tel 020 7766 7375/7419
Out of hours 07792 636761

Notes to editors

What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
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.

Local partners – Wave 1
Co-design and test products and services
In this first waveof activities to December 2018, the Centre is working with 10 local partners to develop and test effective tools and services that the Centre may deliver. If the work indicates that the initial proposals were not appropriate, the Centre will adapt its approach. This work is being supported by a further seven local authorities and trusts (known as reference partners) who will provide insights and advice based on their experience during the prelimary stages of this work.

Generate new evidence
The Centre – through its Research Partner CASCADE at Cardiff University – is working with six local authorities and trusts to help develop work on the initial research themes:
• Safely reducing the need for children to enter care
• Supervision and decision-making
• The “front door”( local authorities’ arrangements for responding to safeguarding concerns)
• Workforce well-being, retention and turnover.

The aims of this first wave of activity are to develop insights into the kinds of interventions already being used, and to explore new ideas that could be tested. Later this year, the Centre will have devised a number of interventions and ideas that it will then help to roll-out and evaluate.

A summary of the Centre’s work with these initial partners is included in this downloadable summary. Local partners – Summary

Some wave 1 partners will be working with the Centre in multiple roles – for example, on the development of evidence, as well as co-designing products and services, or acting as a reference partner.