Josh MacAlister and Dr Jo Casebourne have been appointed as executive chair and CEO, respectively, of the new organisation that will be formed through merging the two charities.
The new merged organisation – which will operate initially under the working name of What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care – will bring together the two What Works Centres to create a single centre covering the full range of support for children and families from preventative approaches, early intervention and targeted support for those at risk of poor outcomes, through to support for children with a social worker, children in care and care leavers. This is a unique and exciting opportunity to create a bold and ambitious organisation that influences the policymakers, service leaders and practitioners who can turn evidence into action.
As a strong, independent and authoritative What Works centre, the new charity will generate much-needed new evidence on how best to support children and families and ensure that this evidence is used to create real-world impact. The decision to merge was announced by the two boards of trustees in July 2022.
Josh MacAlister is an experienced leader, entrepreneur and public service reformer, having founded the social work charity Frontline, co-founded the youth offending organisation SHiFT and chaired the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care. Since starting his career as a teacher, he has focused on making positive change happen for the most vulnerable children and families.
Dr Jo Casebourne has been chief executive of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) since August 2017. Jo has spent 25 years leading research on how government and public services can best support children and families. Prior to joining EIF, she worked at the Institute for Government, Nesta and the Centre for Economic & Social Inclusion.
The executive chair and CEO will work together over the coming months to establish a bold vision and strategy for the new organisation, lead the staff teams through the merger process, and build on the strong working relationships that EIF and What Works for Children’s Social Care have forged with organisations and stakeholders across the sector.
Josh MacAlister, executive chair of What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care, said:
“It is a great privilege to take up this role, and a huge opportunity. Very many important decisions about the new centre, its strategic priorities and its work lie ahead. I am looking forward to working with partners across early intervention and children’s social care to make sure the new organisation serves and supports professionals and services providing help to children and families, at a national and local level. EIF and What Works for Children’s Social Care have done incredible work over many years to promote and embed the role of research and evidence in national policy and in the planning and delivery of services for children and families – a mission that I am certain the new centre will continue and expand.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Nick Pearce and Jenny Coles for their leadership of both organisations through the merger process, and indeed to both boards for their excellent and tireless work on behalf of children and families. I am fortunate to have a wealth of experience and expertise to draw on from the boards, advisory panels and staff teams of both organisations.”
Dr Jo Casebourne, CEO of What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care, said:
“I am delighted to be asked to lead What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care, which has a vitally important role to play in ensuring children and families receive the support they need. As both EIF and What Works for Children’s Social Care have done, we will continue to work closely with leaders and decision-makers across national and local government and wider public services to generate and share ‘what works’ evidence and support their efforts to provide excellent, effective support to children and families. I know there is a firm commitment across the early intervention and children’s social care community to ensure that the system makes a difference for children, and we have an exciting opportunity to help shape and support that wider system as it evolves. As a trusted and independent source of information and guidance for practitioners, and a critical friend to those who are making crucial decisions about investments, policies and programmes, we will work to ensure that the lessons from evidence and research are an essential part of how support for families and children is designed and implemented.”
Prof Nick Pearce, chair of the Early Intervention Foundation, said:
“I am very pleased to introduce the new What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care leadership team of Josh MacAlister and Jo Casebourne. It is exciting to welcome Josh to our board as its executive chair, at the conclusion of a robust, open and competitive process. Appointing the executive chair is a milestone in the formation of the new organisation, and Josh will bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the role. He has a deep understanding of how services for children and families work at a national and local level, and a track record of achieving positive change. I look forward to continuing my involvement as a trustee, to taking forward the early intervention agenda within the new centre, and to supporting Josh and Jo to sustain the high standards that both organisations have set.”
Jenny Coles, chair of What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“It is great to be able to welcome Josh and Jo to the new organisation. I am delighted that Josh MacAlister and Jo Casebourne have been appointed as executive chair and CEO of the new centre. Josh brings invaluable expertise and an unerring focus on improving outcomes in the system. Jo has a deep commitment to providing effective help to the families and children who need it most. I am certain that she will bring energy and focus to ensuring that effective early intervention and effective support for children in care are at the heart of the new organisation. I am excited to join the Board of What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care, working alongside Josh as its executive chair, and I know that, in Josh and Jo, the team is setting off with strong and experienced leadership in place.”
Both Josh and Jo will formally take up their roles in December, and work to complete the merger of EIF and WWCSC and the creation of What Works for Early Intervention and Children’s Social Care will continue through the winter.
Notes to editors
The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) is an independent charity that champions and supports the use of effective early intervention to improve the lives of children and young people at risk of experiencing negative outcomes. For more information, see: https://www.eif.org.uk/
What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) 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 research looks at the point of referral through to permanence, including adoption, care-leaver support and targeted early help. We focus on children’s social care practice in England, and draw on and share learning at the international level. For more, see: https://whatworks-csc.org.uk/