Our Practice in Need of Evidence programme (PINE) is well underway with our first cohort of nine partners working on conducting their own evaluations – with our support – of their promising practice. Based on the fantastic response to this first round, and really positive initial feedback from the participants, we’ve launched another round – this time with a specific focus on multi-agency practice.
So of all the possible areas with interesting and emerging practice, why have we chosen multi-agency working?
The direction of travel in safeguarding children is to bring professionals across different agencies closer together. Beyond the requirements of Working Together, co-located multi-agency teams – from the front door through to services for care leavers – are increasingly common. These are exciting, innovative ways of meeting shared safeguarding responsibilities, but very little evidence exists to say whether these approaches work or how to do them well. Breaking down the barriers between professionals also means taking a multi-agency approach to research.
There are some well known whole-system success stories, like Hertfordshire’s Family Safeguarding Model and North Yorkshire’s No Wrong Door, that draw heavily on multi-agency approaches. But I know that there are many more examples of joint working that are having an impact around the country. These might be a fresh approach to strategy discussions for targeted interventions, or a multi-agency team working with a particular group of children or young people, or focused on a particular challenge – there’s a lot to learn about how to do these well.
Bringing agencies together to jointly deliver services is hard, so it is understandable that evaluation has taken a backseat to delivery until now. But it is vital that we know what works, for who and in what circumstances to ensure that all this hard work is actually resulting in better lives for children, young people and families. Evaluating multi-agency working is, arguably, a more difficult task than evaluating multi-disciplinary working, but given the prevalence and importance of multi-agency working, we feel it’s a challenge worth taking on.
We know that safeguarding children is everyone’s business, so finding out what works for our most vulnerable children and families must see us look beyond the services delivered solely by children’s social care. We are therefore inviting applications from any statutory agency, providing their practice has measurable outcomes in children’s social care.