Partnership for Change

This protocol is a randomised controlled trial of an intervention to improve the mental health of children with a social worker.


/ In progress

Estimated completion

November 2023

Delivered by


Partnership for Change is an Intervention development and feasibility study that aims to improve child mental health outcomes through improving parent-child relationships in families in which the child has a social worker.  

The English Care Review Case for Change states that “too often we are allowing situations to escalate and then being forced to intervene too late, severing children’s relationships and setting them on a worse trajectory” (page 10). Intervening to support parents in building family resilience before a crisis precipitates a child coming into care – with an emphasis on understanding, respect, reducing stressors and improving resilience – gives families a much greater opportunity for change.  

The study aims to develop an intervention that incorporates elements where the health and social care organisations, and the government work together to support families before children are taken into care. 

By co-producing a new service called Infant Parent Support (IPS) which is developed from an existing NSPCC service called Infant and Family Teams several gaps in current service provision will be addressed such as a relationship-focussed approach, mental health and neurodiversity awareness and poverty-aware practice. It is hoped that the new service would also allow mapping and improving the current services landscape for struggling families and test the feasibility of a definitive Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of IPS.  

The team aims to achieve this through the following activities: 

  • Working with parents whose child(ren) has a social worker to co-produce the IPS intervention from our existing IFTs in Glasgow and London. 
  •  Using a partnership approach to map the landscape of current services for these families and, through creating new multi-agency partnerships, improve the organisation’s access to and quality of services available to them. 
  •  Conducting a feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) to examine whether it will be possible to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Infant Parent Support (IPS) in a future study. 

Partnership for change is planned to be undertaken in two stages. The first phase will form Parent collaborators groups who will be hosting small workshops with relevant members of the wider intervention. The workshops will aim to explore and discuss each aspect of the intervention by using tried and tested techniques which will be agreed in advance with Parent Collaborators to ensure power dynamics are managed and to ensure everyone’s voices are heard. The second phase will focus on the feasibility of RCT, where the team aims to recruit 30 families living in Glasgow and London. 

The research questions for this study are as follows:  

  • Can we coproduce, with parent collaborators, a new service, Infant Parent Support (IPS) to improve the mental health of children with a social worker?   
  •  Can we test the feasibility of an RCT of IPS compared with services as usual? 

The final report is planned to be completed by November 2023.