I believe that outstanding innovations are being developed from all corners of the social care workforce. Across my previous roles, I would support social workers to expand their impact in the areas of practice, policy and innovation, and I’ve been inspired by the capacity of professionals to go above and beyond their day-to-day roles to trial something new. Without an evidence base to ground these interventions, though, we’ve had no way of understanding ‘what works’, what can be scaled, and under what circumstances. And, while universities and researchers are undertaking some excellent work in this area, social care practitioners should be at the heart of widening the evidence base within the profession.
That’s why I’m excited to be coordinating WWCSC’s Practice in Need of Evidence (PINE) programme, and why I believe it’s an integral part of our mission to widen the social care evidence base. The PINE programme supports professionals to contribute to the widening body of social care evidence through an evaluation of their own innovative projects.
There’s a common misconception that you must overcome insurmountable barriers before undertaking even small-scale research and evaluation work; that there’s training to complete, qualifications to study, papers to publish… But, with just a little guidance and support, effective research skills will be in the toolkit of all social workers and social care organisations. And the PINE programme can help you develop and exercise those skills.
Social care practitioners are guided through every stage of their self-evaluation, from planning and modelling their intervention, through to writing up their findings and publishing a report. Each stage of the research is punctuated by a meeting with our practice and research teams, who can provide consultation on everything from the initial evaluation plan, all the way through to reflecting on data protection and research ethics, conducting effective interviews, and summarising findings. In my few short months in the role it’s been fascinating hearing about all the new ways of working being trialled, and rewarding to be able to advise and support sites on their journey.
If you would like to find out more about PINE, and the various sites and interventions we’re currently supporting, then check out our Practice in Need of Evidence page. Though we are open to supporting any intervention which seeks to improve outcomes for children and families in contact with the children’s social care system in England, we are especially interested in hearing from organisations working across our five key priorities:
- The children’s social care workforce
- Children and young people’s mental health
- Residential care
- Domestic abuse
- Risk and decision-making
We are also looking to further develop the evidence base around interventions that seek to safeguard children under one years old from non-accidental injury from male carers.
If you believe that the PINE programme could support you to develop an evaluation for a new or existing intervention or way of working, then send a summary of your project to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we think it’s something we can support, we’ll then set up an initial consultation. I’m looking forward to meeting many new sites over the coming months!