You might remember earlier this year we published a blog about our Practice In Need of Evidence (PINE) programme. If you missed it, here’s a quick recap – we know excellent practice is happening all over the country but without strong evidence of improved outcomes. Our partners have talked about the need for more evidence to help understand how programmes are working, and to make them more sustainable and scalable. We set up PINE as a chance for us at What Works for Children’s Social Care to work with children’s social care organisations to create evidence about what is already working in practice.
We advertised an open call for organisations to partner with us back in March, and we had a great response to the open application process. Today, we’re delighted to announce 8 partnerships with the sector to create evidence about what works.
It’s interesting that work with adolescents is well-represented in the practice we are supporting (Barking and Dagenham, Centre for Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse with Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, Bath and North East Somerset). Safeguarding vulnerable young people in their homes, schools and communities is clearly a complicated and pressing challenge for the sector. It’s therefore helpful to look at different ways of working with young people on the understanding that multiple approaches and interventions are needed to improve safety and wellbeing.
At the other end of the age range, we are partnering with Brighton and Hove City Council to evaluate their Early Parenting Assessment Programme which supports families at the earliest point to promote good development and assess parenting capacity pre-birth and when babies are very young. Local authorities across the country are working hard to safely keep children at home so an evidence base for how to do that effectively for this age group will be important progress.
Two of our partner organisations, South Tyneside Council and adoption organisation Parents and Children Together, both have the common feature of building our understanding of caring for children who have experienced abuse, trauma and neglect. The organisations are taking different approaches to this – PACT have an online offering for adopters and South Tyneside’s Connected Carers Team use training and social work interventions to support Special Guardianship carers. We are looking forward to understanding to what extent these approaches improve carers’ resilience and placement stability.
Elsewhere, Warrington have recently implemented a new approach to creating plans with families within child protection conferences. This feels particularly timely given what we know about how shaming and disempowering the child protection process can be for parents. The ‘Circle of Change’ approach is about making more dynamic plans to keep children safe and share responsibility across the multi-disciplinary network.
And finally, we are continuing our partnership with Royal Borough of Greenwich, who were part of the design and testing of the PINE process. The evaluation of their practice is so important because it speaks to how we embed learning in practice which is crucial to WWCSC’s mission. Greenwich is embarking on an exciting new approach to learning and development through thematic practice weeks and we will be working alongside them to help evaluate how they impact on social worker skills and confidence as well as outcomes for children and families.
We’re hoping that others will be as excited about these projects as we are. Because we’ve left things open to a wide variety of applicants and practices, PINE is an example of practice leading research, rather than the other way around – something that’s important to us at WWCSC. As with all our work, we’ll publish everything and you can expect to see some completed evaluations in summer 2020.