The London Borough of Lambeth is investigating whether embedding social care professionals within the school network can help prevent harm, and therefore reduce the need for further statutory care measures. Five social workers will be placed in one each of five high-need secondary schools, associated with eight feeder primary schools.
The social workers will undertake necessary statutory work with children and families, but will also aim to establish better relationships between social care and families, deliver better early help, and sign-post vulnerable young people to services within the community.
A qualitative evaluation will inform our understanding of the implementation of the underlying mechanisms of the intervention (what makes it work), the way that contextual factors can influence these, and the implementation of the programme. A quasi-experimental design will be used to provide an initial indication of the impact of the intervention on referrals into children’s social care and days children spend in care. This will involve comparing the intervention schools with schools that are matched based on characteristics such as number of pupils, level of need, and historic trends in outcomes.
The evaluation of the programme will begin in Spring 2019, and run until March 2020, when a final report will be published.
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