WWCSC to fund four new systematic reviews in children’s social care

30 June 2020

What Works for Children’s Social Care is delighted to announce funding for four new systematic reviews, to add to the knowledge base in children’s social care. The projects were selected to fill gaps identified in current literature and research, and to address some of the topics identified by the participants in our priority setting exercise, conducted in early 2020.

Dr Ellie Ott from the Rees Centre, Department of Education at Oxford University will lead a systematic review on matching children in care with foster families. The majority of children in care are placed with a foster carer who is not a relative or friend, and the decision to place children with a particular foster family is a pivotal moment in the care journey. Promoting stability and minimising disruptions is a fundamental principle of practice, and this is linked with better outcomes for children. Dr Ott stated, “This review offers the opportunity to answer policy- and practice-relevant questions and fill a gap in the evidence base. Hopefully, in the long run it will help improve the care journey of children and young people.”

It is widely known in social care practice that young people who have experienced or are vulnerable to sexual exploitation can often fall through the gaps as they transition from services with a remit for safeguarding children to those whose remit is to work with adults at risk. Safeguarding young people who are turning 18 has been identified as a priority for adult and children’s social work. A collaboration of social work and child and youth researchers at Nottingham Trent University will carry out a review which seeks to assess existing evidence and draw together the evidence relating to transition and safeguarding of young people as they reach adulthood to positively impact responses to need for support.

Researchers from the Universities of Portsmouth, East Anglia, Nottingham Trent and the Ann Craft Trust will work in partnership on a study which seeks to understand how we can better protect disabled children and young people from abuse. Disabled children are three to four times more likely to experience violence and abuse than their peers. This review will assess the nature and quality of the evidence covering the abuse and protection of disabled children and young people.

A consortium from the Centre for Evidence and Implementation (CEI), Monash University, the Fostering Network and the University of Bristol will be conducting a systematic review on policies, programmes and interventions to improve outcomes for young people leaving the care system. The particular vulnerability of care experienced young people has increasingly been recognised, and there have been important policy and practice changes in the UK and elsewhere. However, evidence points to continued shortcomings in planning, budget constraints and other implementation challenges. This review addresses an urgent need for synthesis of available learning about what has been shown to work in different contexts, and how policy and practice can be strengthened. Jane Lewis, Director, Centre for Evidence and Implementation said “We hope our review will help to support a step-change in support for care experienced young people as they move into adulthood.

Louise Jones, Director of Programmes, What Works for Children’s Social Care, said:
“We’re delighted to be funding four new systematic reviews to bolster evidence and knowledge in children’s social care. In addition to targeting gaps in the literature, these systematic reviews will address a broad range of important topics including: safeguarding disabled children and young people, matching in foster care, safeguarding those who experience child sexual exploitation as they transition to adult services, and improving outcomes for care leavers. We look forward to presenting the findings in spring 2021 and supporting the sector to incorporate this new evidence into everyday practice.