Southampton City Council plans to embed a team of 5 social workers across 3 school ‘clusters’ to undertake necessary statutory social care work, continue working with families already involved with social care, and to provide prevention interventions across all levels of care: primary (general population), secondary (vulnerable families), and tertiary (where harm to children has already occurred). A total of 3 secondary schools, 14 feeder primary schools and one Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) are included in this pilot.
By placing social workers in schools, it is thought that harm to children will be prevented and dealt with earlier, and that it might reduce the need for higher levels of statutory social care involvement.
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 potential impact of the intervention on referrals to children’s social care and the number of days children spend in care.This will involve comparing two of the intervention clusters with schools that are matched based on characteristics such as number of pupils, level of need, and historic trends in outcomes. The third cluster, identified as having particularly high social, emotional and mental health needs, will be excluded from this analysis.
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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