The Centre will use a set of ‘evidence standards’ to rate and rank the quality of research about ‘what works’ in children’s social care.

The purpose of using evidence standards is to help children’s social care professionals to understand the quality and reliability of evidence.

These standards will be used to review existing social care research and also to shape new research carried out by the Centre and other researchers.

We will use the standards to present evidence about: how effective particular interventions or approaches are, how they work, in what contexts they work, what is known about how to implement them and the cost implications. This information will be published in an online ‘evidence store.’

We will be consulting with the social care sector and researchers over coming months (June – November 2018) to agree what evidence standards the Centre should use, and to design the evidence store. If you would like to hear about opportunities to get involved, please sign up to our newsletter.

The EMMIE framework

We plan to use the EMMIE framework for our evidence standards. This was developed by the UCL Jill Dando Institute, for use by the What Works Centre for Crime Reduction in their toolkit. This work was co-funded by the College of Policing and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

EMMIE stands for:

Effect: What difference does the intervention tend to make, based on published evaluations?
Mechanisms: What do we know about what makes it work?
Moderators: What things, such as the context, might influence whether it works?
Implementation: What is the evidence about how to implement it?
Economic impact: What are the economic implications of using it?

When we present evidence about an intervention, we will produce a narrative summary for each dimension of EMMIE, alongside a rating of the quality of the evidence for that dimension. The dimensions of effect and economic impact will also include evidence on the size of the effect (where this evidence is available).

Take part in consultation: June – November 2018

We are consulting research experts and children’s social care professionals on the evidence standards.

Please sign up for regular updates, including opportunities to get involved

Why use the EMMIE framework?

Some evidence standards focus solely on whether an intervention works – its effect. However, we believe that how an intervention is implemented and contextual factors often make a big difference. An intervention or service that worked in one place may not be effective in another. Therefore, we plan to adopt a broader approach to evidence which also looks at issues of implementation and context, as well as effectiveness.

We think the EMMIE framework is suitable for children’s social care research because:

  • Children’s services are complex interventions. A careful approach is needed to address this complexity, including an understanding of how services work and the context in which they are delivered.
  • Children’s social care professionals are not only interested in what works, but also for whom it works, in what circumstances and why. Consideration of costs and benefits is also important.
  • We want to produce evidence that children’s social care professionals find useful. Exploring why services make a difference and how to implement them in practice is more likely to be useful.

It is helpful to be able to build on the work of another What Works Centre, and their partners at UCL Jill Dando Institute, who have already successfully used the EMMIE standards for reviewing research on crime.

More detailed and technical information about the EMMIE standards can be found here: