Research

We exist to collate, produce, and translate research about “What Works” in Children’s Social Care.

We use a variety of different methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, to conduct research that can be used by social workers, leaders in the sector and policymakers to support children and their families.

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Listing of research projects and reports

  • read more about What Works in Education for Children who have had Social Workers
    Report

    What Works in Education for Children who have had Social Workers

    Summary We know that children and young people who have had a social worker have, on average, lower attainment than their peers. However, we do not have a good sense of what works to improve educational outcomes for this group. This project re-analyses data from the National Pupil Database and 63 randomised controlled trials (RCTs), […]
  • read more about Overview of administrative data on children’s social care in England
    Report

    Overview of administrative data on children’s social care in England

    Providing an overview of the administrative data on children’s social care that exists, how the data is currently used, and suggesting ways it could be used for future research Summary This short report gives an overview of administrative data available on children’s social care in England, to encourage researchers and local authorities to make more […]
  • read more about Care-Experienced Young People and Higher Education
    Report

    Care-Experienced Young People and Higher Education

    Summary Care-experienced young people in the United Kingdom are less likely to attend university than peers who have not been in care.  This study set out to find out more about this situation, particularly the expectations care experienced young people held towards university attendance during the years leading up to university application and how these […]
  • read more about Social Workers in Schools: An evaluation of a pilot in three local authorities in England
    Report

    Social Workers in Schools: An evaluation of a pilot in three local authorities in England

    Summary This evaluation looked at three pilot projects which embedded social workers in schools. It explored how working in this way might help reduce referrals, support schools, and reduce the need for children to enter care. Schools play a key part in keeping children safe, and tend to be a source of many referrals to […]
  • read more about How family budget change interventions affect children being in care
    Report

    How family budget change interventions affect children being in care

    Understanding how changes to family budgets can affect the likelihood of children being in care Summary This rapid evidence assessment aims to summarise the research evidence on how changing a family budget can affect the likelihood of children being in care. The evidence included two very different approaches – (1) interventions to increase the money […]
  • read more about Shared Decision-Making: What is good practice in delivering meetings?
    Report

    Shared Decision-Making: What is good practice in delivering meetings?

    Involving families meaningfully in decision-making to keep children safely at home Summary Shared decision-making is a feature of a number of service-delivery models, such as Family Group Conferencing, Family Group Decision-Making and Family Unity Meetings. Underpinning all these models is a commitment to ensuring that children and families are involved in decision-making about their own […]
  • read more about Signs of Safety: Findings from a mixed-methods systematic review focused on reducing the need for children to be in care
    Report

    Signs of Safety: Findings from a mixed-methods systematic review focused on reducing the need for children to be in care

    Summary Signs of Safety (SoS) is a framework for child protection practice. SoS aims to stabilise and strengthen families through working in collaboration to identify and harness their strengths and resources. This places relationships between social workers and parents at the centre of child protection. Signs of Safety: Findings from a mixed-methods systematic review focussed […]
  • read more about Safely reducing the need for children to enter care
    Report

    Safely reducing the need for children to enter care

    Summary The number of children entering care has increased substantially over the last 20 years. In 1997 in England there were 50,900 children in care and this had risen to 72,670 in 2017, an increase of 43 per cent. This has led to considerable public expression of concern, including the publication of the recent Care […]
  • read more about Outcomes-Focused Supervision: A Pilot and Feasibility Study
    Report

    Outcomes-Focused Supervision: A Pilot and Feasibility Study

    Summary There is a widespread consensus about the importance of social work supervision. However, we do not have a good sense of what works in supervision to make a difference for children and families. This project involved training a small group of supervisors in a different approach to supervision (outcomes-focused supervision) and then measuring what […]
  • read more about Mapping the evidence about what works to safely reduce the entry of children and young people into statutory care: A systematic scoping review
    Report

    Mapping the evidence about what works to safely reduce the entry of children and young people into statutory care: A systematic scoping review

    Summary The increasing number of children and young people entering statutory care in the UK is a significant social, health and educational priority. Development of effective approaches to safely reduce this number remains a complex but critical issue. Despite an increase in interventions, evidence summaries are limited. This study is a scoping review; using systematic […]
  • read more about Ethics Review of Machine Learning in Children’s Social Care
    Report

    Ethics Review of Machine Learning in Children’s Social Care

    SummaryThis report: Reviews the ethical criteria that would make the use of machine learning (ML) in children’s social care (CSC) justifiable and examines the problematic contexts in which such criteria may not be met; Identifies requirements and best practice for the responsible use of ML in CSC; Presents recommendations for a way forward.  Objectives The […]
  • read more about Promoting the Retention, Mental Health, and Wellbeing of Child and Family Social Workers: A Systematic Review of Workforce Interventions
    Report

    Promoting the Retention, Mental Health, and Wellbeing of Child and Family Social Workers: A Systematic Review of Workforce Interventions

    Summary Mental health, wellbeing and retention are pressing concerns within children’s social care. This systematic review aims to summarise existing evidence on workforce interventions to improve mental health, wellbeing or retention of child and family social workers. Findings suggest a number of potentially promising interventions, particularly organisational level interventions. However, there is very little high […]
  • read more about Devolved Budgets: An Evaluation of Pilots in Three Local Authorities in England
    Report

    Devolved Budgets: An Evaluation of Pilots in Three Local Authorities in England

    Summary This evaluation explored how ‘devolved budgets’ might be used by Children’s Social Care to provide resources to families and reduce the need for care. A devolved budget is a financial resource that is made available to social workers to spend with families. The idea is that social workers and families are best placed to […]
  • read more about Machine Learning in Children’s Services: Does it work?
    Report

    Machine Learning in Children’s Services: Does it work?

    Summary Children’s Services departments have substantial amounts of data available to them. This, combined with advances in computing power and algorithms, opens up the possibility of using machine learning to identify children at risk – allowing social workers to use their time to work directly with families. However, to date it has been unclear just […]
  • read more about Impact Of Shared Decision-making Family Meetings On Children’s Out-of-home Care, Family Empowerment and Satisfaction
    Report

    Impact Of Shared Decision-making Family Meetings On Children’s Out-of-home Care, Family Empowerment and Satisfaction

    Summary We reviewed the international evidence on the outcomes of shared decision-making family meetings. These meetings aim to improve family members’ involvement in decisions about children at risk, compared with a traditional child protection case conference. Objectives We set out to review all studies that had (1) a comparison group – e.g. comparing families who […]