How projects are being evaluated

One of the aims of the Innovation Programme is to identify what works, why, and in what circumstances to raise the quality of evidence in the children’s social care sector. Each project being funded by the Innovation Programme has an external independent evaluation. Further information on the evaluation approach for each project is below.

Further information on what each of the projects are doing and how much they have been funded can be found here.

Thematic Reports
Published by the Rees Centre, Evaluation Co-ordinator across the programme for round 1:

What have we learned about good social work systems and practice in children’s social care?

Adolescent service change and the edge of care

Child sexual exploitation and mental health

Systemic conditions for innovation in children’s social care

Rethinking children’s social work  – large-scale projects to transform the children’s social care system.

Catch 22 & Cheshire East Council
Doncaster Children’s Services Trust
Durham County Council
Frontline
Gloucestershire
Hampshire County Council and the Isle of Wight
Hertfordshire County Council
Islington Council
Leeds City Council
Morning Lane Associates (MLA)
Munro, Turnell and Murphy
Newcastle City Council
North East Lincolnshire Council
Stockport Council

Torbay Council
Triborough (London)

Rethinking support for adolescents – programmes to prevent teenagers coming into care, and to improve fostering services and residential homes.

Achieving for Children
Action for Children
Aycliffe secure children’s home (Durham County Council)
Calderdale County Council
Cambridgeshire Council
Ealing Council
Enfield Borough Council
Hackney Council
North Yorkshire
Priory Education Services working with Suffolk Council
Sefton Council
Tri-Borough Alternative Provision Trust
The North London Children’s Efficiency Programme
West Sussex County Council
St Christopher’s Fellowship
Stoke-on-Trent Council
Surrey Council
The Compass Centre
The Fostering Network
The National Implementation Service
Wigan Council and CCG

Other priorities in children’s social care

Barnardo’s and the LGA
Coram
Cornerstone
Daybreak
Match Fostercare
Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime MOPAC
NSPCC and SCIE
NSPCC
Pause
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council
Safe Families for Children

Sheffield and South Yorkshire Councils
Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation
The Council for Disabled Children
University of Kent
Wigan and Rochdale Council

 

Rethinking children’s social work – large-scale projects to transform the children’s social care system.

Catch 22 & Cheshire East Council
The project aims to develop a new approach to supporting children within the Children in Need population at least risk of proceeding into Child Protection. It will do this through ‘pods’ of family practitioners led by social worker team leaders in order to provide more dedicated and intensive support which will both improve outcomes for children and enable social workers to prioritise their work on cases deemed most urgent. The evaluation, conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team, aims to assess the impact of the project on the relationship between staff and volunteers, and the family; staff engagement and motivation; outcomes for the CIN population currently in the system and operational costs. The evaluators are planning to conduct a randomised controlled trial to compare outcomes for children served by the project with those assigned to the traditional Cheshire East model of support. Other methods used will be qualitative interviews young people, parents, and social workers, behavioural simulations, surveys, and secondary analysis of local authority administrative data.
Read the evaluation summary here

Doncaster Children’s Services Trust
The Doncaster Children’s Trust aims to improve the culture and practice of the agencies involved in the prevention and mitigation of domestic violence and to redesign and simplify the system delivering direct support to children and parents. The evaluation, being conducted by Opcit Research and UCLAN, therefore aims to assess the extent to which the project encourages better practice in social work and beyond, and how, and what is the impact on children and families as a result. A mixed methods approach will start with a review of literature and local programme material and some ‘intelligence gathering’ interviews with key staff. Baseline data will be gathered via a data collection/risk assessment tool; interviews and network analysis based around 10 case studies of families where domestic abuse is present; a Delphi study of managers and strategic leads; case file analysis; observation of MARACs; a mapping of existing services and an e-survey of professionals. Similar methods will be used as follow up measures alongside in depth qualitative work with 20-30 case study families and professional case diaries. The evaluation plan is designed to build outcome measures which can be used by DCST beyond the initial 12 month evaluation period.
Read the evaluation summary here

Durham County Council
Durham intends to implement their next phase of a transformation programme via the creation of 10 new integrated early help and social work teams. The overarching aim is to change the culture of practice among social workers and partner agencies, through the use of reflective practice and service restructures supporting preventative work (Early Help), improving step-down support and supporting sustainable change for families. The aim of this evaluation, being conducted by TNS BMRB, is to provide formative and summative evidence in respect of the implementation and impact of the intervention on children and families, staff and wider partners. The evaluation starts with a scoping stage involving interviews with strategic staff, documentary analysis of context and workshops with staff groups to trace activities to these outcomes. The phased implementation of the 3 Innovation teams will enable the evaluation to make comparisons with both historic cases, and between the pilot ‘intervention’ area and the ‘control’ group in other areas – this will enable the tracking of around 32 intervention and control families. Other methods to be used include a baseline and follow up survey of families, a staff survey, qualitative work with staff and families and analysis of administrative data. The evaluation includes an embedded academic researcher (0.5FTE) and embedded practitioner researcher (1 FTE) within Durham to both undertake data collection and provide formative feedback to teams.
Read the evaluation summary here

Frontline
Firstline aims to reconceive the role of social work managers so that they become the engines for the development of practice excellence. This will be achieved through research to define great first-line management, the development of a tool to enable senior leaders to know what changes are needed for first-line managers to operate more effectively; and by developing and delivering a prototype development programme for first-line managers. Firstline will be implemented across a number of local authorities with c. 40 social work first-line managers. The evaluation conducted by the Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR) at Loughborough University, is focusing on the extent to which the project results in more supportive and challenging management of practice and more effective leadership of social work practitioners. A process evaluation will be carried out to explore the implementation and development of the Firstline prototype along with an Action Learning approach to support reflective learning. A mixed methods approach will involve data collection prior to and during the implementation of Firstline, including interviews with managers and practitioners, documentary analysis and the use of decision-making vignettes. Data collected during project implementation will include observation, analysis of filmed supervision sessions, questionnaires and focus groups with Firstline attendees. A comparison group is not considered feasible for the evaluation of this prototype programme but as part of the sustainability planning, CCFR will work with Firstline to design a follow up evaluation that includes a comparison group beyond this initial evaluation period.
Read the evaluation summary here

Gloucestershire
The project involves the re-structuring of the entire service to adolescents into multi-agency teams. The evaluation plan produced by Ecorys looks at the lessons that might be learned from the set-up and implementation of the new service through to October 2017, the outcomes achieved and the impact of the changes, and the cost-effectiveness of the changes. The mixed methods evaluation combines quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis to profile the governance, commissioning and service delivery arrangements under the existing model of children’s social care, and to capture the processes and outcomes associated with the transition to a new integrated system. Surveys, focus groups, interviews and observations will reach more than 500 clients or professionals across the period of the evaluation. Comparison will be against trends during the 2 years pre and post implementation. Stakeholders have been involved in the development of the plan and tools used they will be closely involved as the plan is implemented.
Read the evaluation summary here

Hampshire County Council and the Isle of Wight
This whole system change programme aims to achieve a reduction in demand for social work-led interventions, and improved outcomes for children in need, in particular, more children supported to live safely at home. It has several strands including changes to social work practice; increased capacity for direct work with families; new forms of support for children in need and young people on the edge of care; better support for children at risk of child sexual exploitation; and new forms of training and development. The evaluation, conducted by the Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University, aims to assess the impact of each strand and the programme as a whole. It starts with a baseline analysis of quantitative data for the previous 3 years, case file analysis and interviews. Comparative data will be available from pilot and non-pilot areas for some aspects of the programme. A mixed method approach will be used including analysis of case files and interviews with staff, managers and families. IPC will suggest ways for continuing the evaluation over the longer term including the tracking of families and workers over time.
Read the evaluation summary here

Hertfordshire County Council
This is a whole system reform programme which includes creating multi-disciplinary teams with additional specialists, recruiting staff to reduce workloads, training staff in Motivational Interviewing, as well as a structured approach to risk assessment. The evaluation team from the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, University of Bedfordshire are therefore taking a multi-faceted approach to the evaluation to capture the process of change, evidence of impact on the service experiences of families, and on outcomes for children and families. The study has three strands: data collection on the quality of service and outcomes for families before and after service reform; a whole system analysis of the impacts for Children’s Services and other partners, including indicative costs and savings; a process study using qualitative and quantitative data collection via embedded researchers to describe the service before, during and after reforms. Methods will include practice observation, interviews and the use of validated instruments with a sample of around 300 families to compare outcomes before, during and after reform.
Read the evaluation summary here

Islington Council
This is a whole service transformation designed to make social work practice more skilled, purposeful and effective via the introduction of an ‘Islington Practice Model’. It incorporates an internal training and evaluation process involving researchers from the University of Bedfordshire in year one. The external evaluation, being conducted by the University of Sussex, will therefore comprise of two stages. In the period to March 2016, it will focus on the efficacy and initial impact of the Practice Model as it is implemented, including the extent to which families have been effectively engaged and indicators of change achieved. The second stage of the evaluation post March 16, will focus on the efficacy of the model as it is mainstreamed and the longer term impact on children and families. A mixed methods approach is being taken including independent secondary analysis of data collected internally and primary data collected through interviews with parents, carers, practitioners and managers, observations of practice and focus groups. A Practice Model Evaluation and Development Forum is being established, enabling findings to inform project development.
Read the evaluation summary here

Leeds City Council
The programme has 3 key elements: expanding the offer of a Family Group Conference (FGC) to more families, including those affected by domestic abuse; commissioning and further developing targeted services to act on the outcomes of FGCs; training to enable more use of restorative approaches, to embed family-based decision making. The evaluation, being conducted by ICF with the University of Nottingham and the RTK Ltd, is focusing on: whether whole system change has been delivered (as evidenced by outcomes for children and families); the extent to which the FGC model and restorative practices have been established, and the outcomes achieved through these; the overall impact of the SCIP funding and its sustainability. The mixed methods evaluation comprises a qualitative process evaluation with robust assessment of impact across each strand of the programme. Planned work includes qualitative fieldwork with stakeholders at senior, management and front line levels, in-depth work with frontline practice (including observation) and a series of workforce surveys. Impact will be assessed against a set of indicators agreed with the local authority and the evaluators intend to develop a comparison group matched on key variables drawn from LAs which are Leeds’ statistical neighbours, as well as making use of data from Leeds case management system (Framework) and the existing FGC database.
Read the evaluation summary here

Morning Lane Associates (MLA)
The roll-out of the RSW model across five local authorities has three core elements: provision of a Morning Lane Associates (MLA) led RSW unit aimed at preventing children from entering care (referred to as the Edge of Care (EoC) Units); a move from conventional teams to RSW units, with MLA recruiting and training CSWs for units; work to support whole system change. The evaluation, conducted by the Tilda Goldberg Centre, University of Bedfordshire plans to compare the RSW model with ‘normal service’ in order assess the difference that the model makes to outcomes for children, and families as well as to explore the factors that promote system changes that influence outcomes. The evaluation involves two quasi-experimental studies: the first (which will be prioritised) will compare outcomes for families allocated to the RSW unit with those allocated to a team delivering services as usual; a second study will compare outcomes for children worked with by EoC units with a comparison group of children appropriately referred but not worked with. A third element of evaluation involves the collection of wider qualitative and quantitative data in order to understand the factors affecting implementation of RSW and the impact it has on service demands. In order to maximize data collection, a single researcher is being ‘embedded’ within each LA for 12 months.
Read the evaluation summary here

Munro, Turnell and Murphy
The MTM led project is working with ten pilot LAs to implement Signs of Safety Practice in order to improve the quality of work with children and families and achieve better outcomes. MTM’s proposal sets out four broad evaluation questions: Is ‘Signs of Safety’ being implemented? What organisational forms best support front line practice? Are outcomes for children and young people improving? Is there better value for money across children’s social care? MTM’s action research is to address the first two of these, therefore the independent evaluation, conducted by the Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, is mainly focusing on the final two, although the evaluation team will work with MTM to share data on the lessons learned through implementation. Data is being collected from each LA in order to take account of the variations across the 10 sites which may impact on implementation and outcomes. The key outcomes for children are: being safe; achieving and maintaining permanency; having an appropriate level of well-being. In order to explore change in relation to these, a pre-post test design is being used, involving the review of case records at two time periods to identify cohorts of families who will be interviewed and asked to complete appropriate clinical measures at initial contact and six months later. Data will also be collected from the allocated social workers and key professionals involved with families. Researchers will maintain contact with the families’ social workers over the six month period. Secondary data analysis will be used to identify trends in the pilot LAs compared to their statistical neighbours. A value for money component will collect data on the costs of implementing SoS and the time spent by social workers compared to other ‘usual care’ sources.
Read the evaluation summary here

Newcastle City Council
Family Insights aims to achieve more direct work with families by more skilled and better informed social work staff providing a tailored and timelier response to meet families’ needs. This will be achieved through the creation of four Social Work Units focused on families with similar needs and characteristics; greater use of insights and informatics to inform decision-making; and becoming a ‘social work learning and teaching organisation.’ The evaluation, being conducted by TNS BRMB, aims to provide formative and summative evidence on the process of implementation and the impact of change on children and families. The approach comprises: a scoping stage of interviews with strategic staff and review of relevant documentation; the tracking of 80 cases from the 4 social work units matched with historic cases from the previous 18 months; qualitative interviews with families and staff. A key element of the evaluation is the training and support of embedded researchers who will both carry out fieldwork and feedback the findings to the teams. Other methods include staff and service user surveys. Newcastle intends to conduct secondary data analysis in-house and has engaged Social Finance to conduct financial modelling and CBA.
Read the evaluation summary here

North East Lincolnshire Council
The NE Lincolnshire project aims to run a new and extensive workforce development programme Creating Stronger Communities across a wide range of services to address weaknesses across the social care system and build upon five ‘Family Hubs’ in existing Children’s Centres. The programme includes restorative practice, outcomes-based accountability, signs of safety and family group conferencing. The primary aims of York Consulting’s evaluation are to assess the extent to which the new model of support is effectively implemented, the impact of the new support model on family outcomes and the cost effectiveness of the model. The evaluation approach includes ten family case studies and follow-ups, family surveys, partner and practitioner surveys and interviews with support workers, social workers, psychologists and youth workers. Secondary data analysis of existing data (e.g. LAC rates, exclusion rates) will be used as part of a historical comparator analysis. A cost benefit analysis strand will include 50 family cost benefit profiles.
Read the evaluation summary here

Stockport Council
The aim of this whole-system change innovation project is to facilitate a more holistic and effective form of service delivery with a focus on early intervention using a restorative/asset-based approach, ultimately leading to better outcomes for children, young people and families . It has action-learning at its core, adopting a stepped-wedge roll-out across three localities to ensure that lessons from implementation inform subsequent planning and delivery. The evaluation, being conducted by TNS BMRB, aims to provide formative and summative evidence on the process of implementation and the impact on children and families, ICS staff and wider partners. The approach has three main data collection phases, broadly aligned to the stages of the project. A mixed methods approach is being taken involving interviews, cost data collection, surveys, secondary data analysis and longitudinal service user case studies. The comparison groups will be comparable families referred, but not served by ‘intervention’ sites. It is also intended to identify an historical comparison group. A key element is the inclusion of embedded researchers who will support the ‘design by doing’ ethos within the authority.
Read the evaluation summary here

Torbay Council
The project aims to bring together children and adult’s health and social care functions in early help teams, delivered by an independent provider and establish a public service trust to allow pooling of budgets and joint commissioning. The evaluation being undertaken by Dartington Social Research Unit at aims to monitor implementation of the plans (e.g. pooling of budgets), evidence of ‘early help teams’ supporting families and the type of help, reduction in demands etc., and staff and service user satisfaction with the new model. A mixed-methods approach is being taken through a cohort study of 2-300 children receiving services from the early help teams, analysis of administrative data (e.g. of referrals), focus groups and interviews with service managers, practitioners and service users to assess their satisfaction with the ways in which the new model is working. The unit cost of delivering early help will be calculated in Year 2 (funded by the LA).
Read the evaluation summary here

Triborough focus on practice
Focus on Practice’ was designed to bring greater coherence and confidence to social work practice and embed a new culture based on systems thinking.  The LAs employed clinicians to work alongside social workers, embarked on a programme of training for frontline and supervisory staff and made changes to the case recording system.  The evaluation finds widespread enthusiasm for the training and programme overall.  Supervision and reflective practice were becoming more familiar and the clinician posts appeared to be making a difference to social work practice.  Some early data appear promising, although it’s too early to report on primary outcomes.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

Rethinking support for adolescents – programmes to prevent teenagers coming into care, and to improve fostering services and residential homes.

Achieving for Children – Better by Design
Better by Design (BBD) offers a different way of working with young people who present particularly challenging behaviours.  It is based on significant existing international research and aims to help young people to manage their own challenges and relationships in a different and more constructive way.  This evaluation study focuses on the implementation of the project and provides robust learning around: the potential of the BBD approach; the importance of clear referral pathways and numbers; the need to support children at the ‘right time’; and the need to manage carefully the unit costs of hub services.
Read the evaluation summary here

Action for Children
The project aims to run a suite of evidence-based programmes (functional family therapy, multi-systemic therapy and multi-dimensional treatment foster care) to transform the support available to adolescents in three West London boroughs. The evaluation plan produced by the University of York uses a mixed-methods approach to explore impact on short-term indicators of a range of outcomes in the first year of implementation of the five-year Step Change project (serving around 90 adolescents). Quantitative methods will largely comprise secondary analysis of routinely collected data, measuring family functioning, well-being and difficulties. This will be collected at entry to the intervention, again at exit and at a one-month follow-up. Historical data on admission rates, length of stay and placement types for adolescents will enable some comparisons to be made with ‘treatment as usual’. Qualitative methods will include interviews at follow-up with approximately 35 families to cover their experience of the intervention as well as perceived impact on family relationships and functioning. Professionals working with the families will also be interviewed for their perspective. Interviews and focus groups with staff and managers will explore the implementation process and identify facilitators and barriers. Programme fidelity will be assessed using secondary data analysis. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. The research will incorporate participatory methods to promote the inclusion of young people’s views in the research design, implementation, analysis and dissemination of study findings.
Read the evaluation summary here

Durham Aycliffe secure centre
The Durham Aycliffe Secure Centre set up a specialist unit and bespoke programme to work with young people suffering trauma as a result of sexual exploitation.  The programme involves: a short period accommodated in a secure therapeutic environment; developing positive relationships with specialist workers and mentors; transitional and longer-term community support.  This evaluation study looks at the recruitment of young women to the unit and their ability to develop positive relationships with staff.  It considers the impact of the unit on their mental and emotional well-being as well as their transitions back into the community.
Read the evaluation summary here

Calderdale County Council
The Calderdale project aims to provide a wider range of housing and placement options to reduce entry into care and provide more effective support for those in care.  It aims to reduce homelessness and increase engagement with education, training and employment for the most vulnerable adolescents. The University of York’s evaluation plan takes account of the very small numbers receiving each intervention. It uses a mixed-method approach to understand the implementation and operation of the project and to describe the characteristics and experiences of young people and families participating in the project.  Data collection comprises documentary analysis (e.g. service development plans), secondary data analysis of administrative data, brief surveys at baseline and follow-up of all young people and families using the service (e.g. characteristics, goals, improvements in relationships), baseline and follow-up interviews with service managers (c.10), support staff (c.10) and families and young people using the service (max 33). The evaluation involves a participatory approach and will work with a group of care experienced young people via focus groups to help to shape the research and verify the interpretation of findings. Assessment of costs will be undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

Cambridgeshire Council
The project intends to migrate the current MST service to a mutual model of delivery. The evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre is deliberately structured, not to examine the impact of MST but to investigate the processes required to move to a mutual model, potential good practice, and how the transition impacts on service delivery. It will also provide a framework within which the cost-effectiveness of the mutual model could be, subject to feasibility, compared with existing models. The approach adopted is a mix of a cooperative action research approach, using interviews, document reviews to determine the current position followed by qualitative approaches to discover the impact of the transition on stakeholders. 15 interviews &/or group discussions will sample MST managers, staff, and LA lead, plus clients. The impact of the change will be compared to current ‘business as usual’. MST managers, MST staff, local authority leads and MST clients will be involved in defining some of the approaches taken as well as providing feedback as the transition takes place.
Read the evaluation summary here

Ealing Council
The Brighter Futures Model is intended to support and enable the children’s social care workforce to build effective, consistent relationships with young people, families, communities and carers, and to use those successful relationships to bring about positive change. The evaluation plan produced by TCRU (UCL Institute of Education) will look at what happens during implementation and whether the model (or aspects of it) deliver the intended aims. This includes the proposed financial benefits and investigation of value for money. The plan proposes a mixed methods approach combining collation of management information on all relevant adolescents with face-to-face interviews with 9 frontline staff and managers, and 182 baseline surveys of clients. Comparison will be with published data from statistical neighbours and 40 in-depth interviews with young people, current carers and lead professionals, post-implementation. Care leavers will be involved in designing the research tools, will interview their peers and analyse data.
Read the evaluation summary here

Enfield Borough Council
FASH trials a novel approach to supporting children on the edge of care and their families. York Consulting’s evaluation will investigate: the selection of young people and families to be supported; the effect of the support provided through the FASH on family and young person progression; outputs and levels of resource input to deliver the programme; and the identification of impact by assessing the change in family/young person characteristics post support and any adverse outcomes avoided. A mixed methods approach will; be adopted that includes quantitative measures alongside case studies and surveys, and a cost benefit analysis. Comparison will be with a group of children & families with similar characteristics to the intervention group.
Read the evaluation summary here

Hackney Council
The Family Learning Intervention Programme (FLIP) is an integrated and holistic model designed to break down the barriers professionals face when trying to meet the needs of young people on the edge of care. Cordis Bright have designed an evaluation that looks at the process of implementation and the impact of FLIP in terms of quality of service and impact on young people and their families. The plan adopts a longitudinal mixed methods approach combining collection and analysis of quantitative outcomes, as well as qualitative methods to understand the experiences and perspectives of those involved. The evaluation includes a comparator group composed of young people with characteristics matched to those of the intervention group. A value for money analysis will also be undertaken with costings incurred by the comparator group being analysed against those incurred by FLIP participants. The project plans to: work with around 25 young people and their families through intensive work in a ‘home away from home’ outside of London; work with around 45 children and young people with the preventative strand (with some overlap between groups); and to train around 50 foster carers, though only 10-15 of these will participate in the FLIP intensive intervention. All participating families, young people and 15 foster carers will be interviewed, as well as 40 practitioners working with the target families. Cordis Bright have worked with Hackney to refine the theory of change underpinning the evaluation.
Read the evaluation summary here

North Yorkshire
No Wrong Door is intended to ensure that, through one key worker, young people access the right services at the right time and in the right place to meet their needs. The evaluation plan produced by the Centre for Child and Family Research (CCFR, Loughborough University) looks at the process of implementation, the impact, and the cost-effectiveness of No Wrong Door. It adopts a mixed method, repeat measures approach with the evaluation team spending time with the staff and children/young people where the project is based. It is anticipated that No Wrong Door will work with 40-60 young people in placements; 300 on the edge of care; involve 250 in aspirational activities and 30-40 in the homelessness pathway. All participants will, to some degree fall within the scope of the evaluation. Quantitative comparison will be with statistical neighbour local authorities and focus on accommodation stability and out of area placements. Surveys and interviews with young people will be undertaken at entry and after accessing the No Wrong Door initiative and compared with views post-access. Young people are being consulted about the most appropriate and preferred standardised tool to measure wellbeing and resilience.
Read the evaluation summary here

Priory Education Services working with Suffolk Council
The project aims to pilot a new type of residential home (an approach that spans three regulatory regimes). It would provide a blueprint for similar homes that would combine mental health treatment with a small home setting (rather than a hospital) and better help adolescents and families through a mental health crisis to avoid family breakdown and the need for long-term care placements. The evaluation plan produced by Cordis Bright uses a mixed methods design to explore the impact of the intervention on young people’s outcomes and the experience of service users. A bespoke impact assessment tool will be administered by Priory staff with young people on entrance, exit and three months after exit from the service (for both the impact group and a comparison group). Routinely collected data on looked after children and children in need will also be analysed. In-depth retrospective interviews with young people (n = 10) and their family members/carers will explore experience of the service and perceived impact on well-being. In addition, interviews with key project stakeholders (n = 10) will examine the impact of the project on the wider system. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. Project stakeholders will be engaged in the evaluation from the outset through an evaluation steering group.
Read the evaluation summary here

Sefton Council
The project will see the creation of a multi-agency, integrated, service to meet the needs of adolescents at risk of CSE, who come into care, have an open CiN/CP plan, children missing from home, school or care, and those presenting risk factors related to offending or anti-social behaviour. Sefton Council estimates that 140 young people will fall within the scope of the new service during year 1, many of which will qualify through multiple categories of need. The evaluation plan proposed by Ecorys looks at the process of implementation, its impact and the cost-effectiveness of the changes compared to business as usual, over an 18 month period. The evaluation adopts a mixed methods approach and, as well as exploring the viability of a comparison group, will use pre-implementation measures as a baseline against which to measure impact. Stakeholders are explicitly involved in developing the detail of some of the quantitative and qualitative tools being developed.
Read the evaluation summary here

St Christopher’s Fellowship
The project aims to develop a flexible, high-supervision model of accommodation in London for looked-after girls at risk of sexual exploitation, gang membership and substance misuse who might otherwise be placed in secure children’s homes on welfare grounds. The evaluation plan produced by the University of Bedfordshire and NatCen uses a mixed-method approach to provide evidence of the impact on young women who use this new service. The evaluation will use documentary analysis to identify young women’s risk factors in the three months prior to referral, supplemented by interviews (e.g. with the referring social worker, parent or carer as well as the young person). Case records will provide information on the cohort and their pathways. Staff will also complete a psycho-social assessment and a risk assessment tool for the young people. Measures will be taken at entry to the intervention and again three, six and twelve months later. Focus groups and interviews (with staff and key stakeholders) will be used to provide feedback on the experience of this new model of care. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. Staff, service users and other stakeholders are being engaged throughout to consult on the evaluation plan, topic guides, instruments and findings.
Read the evaluation summary here

Stoke-on-Trent Council
‘The House Project’ plans to develop a housing co-operative that is led and managed by young care leavers using homes owned by the council. It will provide young people with the skills to manage their own home and live in the co-operative aiming to reduce long-term homelessness, unemployment, and help them develop confidence and resilience. York University’s evaluation employs mixed methods comprising documentary analysis of strategy documents and progress reports, secondary data analysis on the characteristics, care history and post care outcomes (from the SSDA903), entry and exit questionnaires and interviews and focus groups with the 10 young people and interviews with key staff. The young people will be involved in the design of the evaluation and interpretation and dissemination of findings. The administrative data will involve some historical analysis of the trajectories of the 10 young people and comparisons with local and national youth populations. General savings will be assessed in terms of positive outcomes, for example, being diverted from homelessness.
Read the evaluation summary here

Surrey Council
The project aims to provide a new overnight crisis service, extending their day service (HOPE) out of hours, and including two respite beds. This will better respond to the mental health and emotional needs of adolescents (11-18yrs) during a crisis. The evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre, UCL and SCIE collaboration uses a mixed methods design to explore the potential for extended HOPE to meet the needs of young people in crisis, improve their outcomes and enhance their experience of this care. Routine quantitative clinical data will be analysed for young people seen before and after Extended HOPE, to examine service utilisation and mental health outcomes. Surveys will capture patients’ experience of the service, and will be supplemented by qualitative interviews with young people, parents and professionals. Observation tools/diaries will be completed by the practitioners about practitioners’ and patients’ behaviours in the service. Documentary analysis will provide information on the wider context of communication and decision-making. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. Service users will be consulted on how to conduct and disseminate the evaluation to ensure it is meaningful to those at the heart of the service.
Read the evaluation summary here

The Compass Centre
The Compass Centre is a high-quality school for young people with behavioural or emotional difficulties in Norfolk. It provides education and therapeutic support for short periods to help young people back into mainstream education. The project will extend their approach to provide training and support to foster carers and to the families of the children they support. This will create a ‘virtual residential school’ where the approach and the support would be consistent both at school and at home. The project includes a built-in internal evaluation strategy funded through NIHR/CLAHRC, which will explore and describe the model and also develop theories of causal mechanisms of the impact of the intervention. The external evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre, UCL and SCIE collaboration will provide quality assurance for the internal evaluation and supervision for the project’s Research Assistant. The external evaluation will support and validate the internal quantitative data analysis, perform random checks of data records for completeness and accuracy, analyse qualitative data for inter-rater reliability and advise and conduct an economic evaluation.
Read the evaluation summary here

The Fostering Network
The Fostering Network is importing and adapting the Mockingbird Family Model of fostering from the US in 8 sites in England. Mockingbird clusters a group of around 10 foster carers around a “hub” home led by an experienced foster carer, who provides short respite breaks and support to the carers in the cluster in order to improve outcomes for children in particular through greater placement stability and carer retention. The Centre for Child and Family Research’s (Loughborough University) evaluation takes a mixed method approach designed to align with the evaluation carried out in the US to assist comparison. It includes a foster carer survey and in-depth interviews with young people and foster carers in four sites, focus groups with supervising social workers and interviews with managers of fostering services in all eight sites and secondary analysis of the SSDA 903 data on the number of placement changes, number of days in placement, etc. A comparison will be drawn with those foster placements in the local authority who are not part of the hubs. The cost calculator will be used to explore cost trajectories based on needs, costs and outcomes.
Read the evaluation summary here

The National Implementation Service

NIS AdOpt

This strand of the NIS project will implement AdOpt, a group-based parenting programme specifically designed for adoptive parents to help promote parenting techniques and supports that address particular difficulties that adopted children may experience. The evaluation plan produced by the University of Sussex uses a mixed method approach to examine the impact of the intervention on children and families. The primary design will be a pre- and post-programme assessment of parenting and child-based outcomes. The study will recruit around 90 families to build on pilot work already conducted with 155 adoptive parents. A comparison group will consist of parents who have not had AdOpt programme support but who may have received other adoption support services. Multiple measures of family functioning (e.g. parenting confidence, quality/satisfaction with the parent-child relationship/ inter-parental relationship), parent mental health, child mental health, child social and behavioural welfare/well-being will be assessed pre- and post-programme implementation. Additional information will also be collected from programme facilitators and relevant local authority staff relating to experiences (e.g. job satisfaction) and perceived effectiveness of AdOpt programme delivery relative to services as usual.

Assessment of the cost-effectiveness of delivery of AdOpt versus services as usual will also be undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

NIS KEEP

This strand of the NIS project will implement KEEP (Keeping Foster and Kinship Parents Trained and Supported) training to existing foster and kinship carers (n = 288), to enhance their skills and confidence with the aim of improving placement quality and stability and children’s outcomes. The evaluation plan produced by Ipsos MORI proposes using a randomised controlled trial (RCT) design to examine the impact of the intervention on carers and placements. This will involve an intervention and wait-list control group, and data will be collected at baseline for both rounds, immediately or shortly after the training, and again three months later. Questionnaires will assess carers’ confidence, resilience, stress levels, parenting skills, and emotional well-being. Placement outcomes and care plans will also be reviewed. Assessment of the cost-effectiveness of the delivery of KEEP versus services as usual will be undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

NIS MST-FIT

This strand of the NIS project will implement Multisystemic Therapy-Families in Transition (MST-FIT) for young people aged 11 to 17 years who are looked after with a plan to return home to family members or long term carers within the context of children’s social care. The evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre will use a mixed methods design to determine whether MST-FIT is a feasible intervention for looked after children in the UK, including an examination of the system issues for implementation within this context and a small number of outcomes to give a preliminary indication of potential impact. The evaluation will undertake a comparison of the characteristics of young people (n = 15-20) and their carers receiving MST-FIT and those receiving ‘treatment as usual’ for this population, and a comparison of characteristics of this UK sample with the type of young people participating in MST-FIT in the U.S. Measures of service use (e.g.; mental health, social care, educational, health) and, where relevant, offending outcomes will be gathered from local and national databases that examine placement stability and trajectory. The evaluation will also collect information on critical incidents moving from residential care to other settings, attendance and exclusions from school, and any offending or police contacts, including young people missing from home, as well as measures of their emotional and behavioural adjustment (SDQ). Measures will be taken at baseline/immediately after training and again six months later/post-treatment. A qualitative strand will further examine the impact on the placement stability and emotional and mental health and well-being of young people and their carers according to the different stakeholders. Preliminary assessment of the cost-effectiveness of delivery of MST-FIT versus services as usual will be undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

NIS MST-PSB

This strand of the NIS project will implement Multisystemic Therapy for Youth with Problem Sexual Behaviour (MST-PSB) to determine whether the intervention can contribute to a reduction in the incidence of out-of-home placements for young people at risk of being removed from their homes primarily because of problem sexual behaviour. The evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre will use a randomised controlled trial (RCT) design to conduct a rigorous, community-based feasibility trial in which MST-PSB is compared with the range of services that are typically provided to adolescent sexual offenders in the UK. The aim of the trial is to determine whether MST-PSB can be implemented fully and at a scale that would warrant a full trial, as well as evaluating the effectiveness of MST-PSB in a UK context. A sample of young people aged 10-17 years (n = 25) will be compared to a control group receiving ‘treatment as usual’. The proportion of cases assigned to long-term (3 months or longer) out-of-home placements will be obtained from caregivers and documented information from social care services. Behavioural outcomes will be assessed at 6-monthly intervals, for the 6 months before randomisation, the 8 months covering the intervention period, and 6-monthly until a 20-month follow-up point. This will involve using multiple methods (e.g., objective offending indices, semi-structured interviews, standardised questionnaires) completed by different informants (e.g., the young person, carer(s), teacher(s) who are significant in the multiple domains that characterise young people’s functioning (home, school, community). The study will also collect data on variables associated with key mechanisms of change that are documented in the MST literature: parenting skills, parent-adolescent relationships and young people’s associations with deviant peers. Qualitative interviews concerning young people’s and their carers’ experience of MST and the research trial will be conducted with study participants within three months of their completion of treatment. Staff and managers in each of the 13 NHS sites referring into the trial will complete feasibility questionnaires, including questions on the beliefs and attitudes held by professionals. MST treatment fidelity will also be examined, and an assessment of the cost-effectiveness of delivery of MST-PSB versus services as usual will be undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

NIS RESuLT

This strand of the NIS project will implement RESuLT, a 12-week, whole-team training course for residential child care workers who are looking after adolescents. The training aims to support and safeguard young people in their adolescent development and assist in promoting positive behaviour. The evaluation plan produced by Ipsos MORI with the Universities of Loughborough and Bristol uses a mixed methods design to conduct a process, impact and economic evaluation. The sample size for the evaluation across the target homes is estimated to be in the region of 120-180 staff (based on 12 homes across six sites) and 48-72 young people, plus eight comparison homes (in four sites). The process evaluation will include staff attendance at training, and feedback on training sessions. Questionnaires and interviews will be used following training and 6 months later to explore general responses to the training, changes in knowledge and attitudes, and perceptions of its perceived usefulness and incorporation in practice. The impact investigation will concentrate on short-term outcomes for young people, including the numbers of young people in each home who, for example, had a planned or unplanned move to a new placement, were temporarily or permanently excluded from school, were missing overnight, or were reported to police for a recorded offence. Outcome data for individual young people will be gathered at the outset of the training programme and 4 months after its completion, and will include individual characteristics of young people, emotional and behavioural factors, risk behaviour, educational outcomes, family contact, and young people’s subjective perceptions of well-being. The care pathways and outcomes (for example placement stability and changes of placement type) of those children placed in the RESuLT homes will be compared to children with similar needs living in comparison homes. The economic evaluation will facilitate NIS to explore the cost effectiveness of the RESuLT training programme, and a framework will be developed to explore costs and potential future costs avoided at the child level (for example, increased placement stability) and the organisational level (for example, improved staff retention). Fieldwork in the first two homes will ask for feedback from participants on the research process and questions asked, with subsequent adjustments where required.
Read the evaluation summary here

The North London Children’s Efficiency Programme
NCLEP plans to set up a specialised residential assessment facility, for adolescents on the edge of care, or are already in care, and their families or carers, which will support stability or re-unification within the family, or provide a period to carry out a comprehensive assessment so a suitable alternative long-term placement can be determined if a return home is not possible. The evaluation led by Ipsos MORI will document the partnership development, scrutinise processes, structures and communications, rather than evaluating the impact of the planned facility. The partnership functioning will be evaluated through a largely qualitative approach using telephone interviews with 7 staff and 5 cycles of interviews with the 5 members of the project team, plus a range of workshops/meetings and reviews of the documentation. Stakeholders will be principally involved as sources of information as implementation proceeds. The facility will only just have opened when the evaluation ends in March 2016 so it will not be possible to conduct a meaningful cost-benefit analysis. However, Ipsos MORI will assist in setting up an evaluation framework for the facility once it is operational so the functioning of the facility can be evaluated.
Read the evaluation summary here

Tri-Borough Alternative Provision Trust
The TBAP residence will provide an integrated educational, therapeutic and residential care facility for young people who are in care or on the edge of care. Ipsos MORI will lead the evaluation which aims to ascertain and provide evidence regarding the effectiveness of the TBAP residence model in improving educational and behavioural outcomes and life chances of the young people who attend and their families/carers as well as the cost-effectiveness of the model compared with more traditional residential provisions. The evaluation will use a mixed methods approach including observations at the academy and residence, interviews with young people and parents/carers on attitudes towards the residence and gathering administrative data around young people’s attainment and behaviour. Comparison will be made with a group of young people drawn from previous years at the TBAP academy matched on their attendance, attainment and behaviour profiles. Professional stakeholders are being involved in the development of some of the evaluation tools.
Read the evaluation summary here

West Sussex County Council
West Sussex CC is leading this project which aims to improve and expand an existing dynamic purchasing system (DPS) into a regional dynamic purchasing system (DPS) to include a larger number of local authorities (15 in total) and to include independently owned children’s homes alongside independent and non-maintained special schools. The project involves: scoping the feasibility of establishing a new regional DPS; developing an outcomes-based framework for commissioning; collecting more detailed financial information to better understand value for money in placements; and informing the review of the national contracts. Cordis Bright’s evaluation aims to identify what works well, how parents, carers and professionals view -current placement seeking arrangements, what barriers exist in implementing the system and what potential outcomes (e.g. for children, value for money) look promising. The evaluation approach includes documentary analysis (e.g. of progress reports, financial modelling), 15 interviews with LA officers/staff, 20 interviews with DPS providers, attendance at DPS forums and an on-line questionnaire to parents/carers. The production of an outcomes framework and sharing of current financial data between authorities will be documented.
Read the evaluation summary here

Wigan Council and CCG
Wigan are planning to establish a combined team of social care and CAMHS professionals to provide crisis and step-down support for young people in or at risk of entering care with significant mental health problems. This will work alongside a repurposed residential home (providing respite care, short breaks and short-term placements) and a group of specialist foster carers. For those needing more intensive support the residential home will offer both respite and placements of up to a year. The evaluation plan produced by the Anna Freud Centre, UCL and SCIE collaboration uses an explanatory case study design to explore and describe the Wigan model and also to develop theories of causal mechanisms of the impact of the intervention. Routine quantitative clinical data will be analysed for all young people and families experiencing crisis care in Wigan to examine service utilisation and outcomes during the 4-6 months after implementation of the model (August 2015-January 2016). This will be compared with data for those accessing services in two previous 4-6 month periods before implementation. At time of discharge from the service, interviews with young people, parents/carers and professionals (n = 10-12 per group) will be conducted to examine: a) their experience of the implementation of the Wigan model, b) the barriers and facilitators to implementation and c) what leads to crisis to inform how the Wigan model can be further revised to better meet the needs of young people to prevent crisis and placement breakdown. Focus groups will also be conducted with frontline clinical staff, and observation tools/diaries will be completed by the practitioners about practitioners’ and patients’ behaviours in the service. An economic evaluation will aim to explore the feasibility of collecting and analysing cost-benefit analysis and embedding tools for continued cost-benefit analysis. Service users will be consulted on how to conduct and disseminate the evaluation to ensure it is meaningful to those at the heart of the service.
Read the evaluation summary here

 

Other priorities in children’s social care.

Barnardo’s and the LGA
Barnardos is establishing a female genital mutilation (FGM) prevention hub that provides practice expertise, direct work with communities, sharing emerging practice and offers consultancy to prevent, protect and treat girls and women affected by FGM. Opcit-UCLAN’s evaluation plan will assess whether attitudes and behaviour towards FGM in the communities affected has changed, increased referrals, increased professional knowledge and confidence about preventing and addressing FGM and improved social care responses for women and children affected has been achieved. The evaluation approach includes secondary data analysis (e.g. on numbers of referrals, etc.), an on-line survey, pre and post telephone interviews with professionals, interviews and focus groups in the communities, interviews with families affected (acknowledging that 50% of FGM is performed on 0-5 year olds) and 3-5 case studies in each of the six participating LAs. Use of baseline data and pre and post interviews and focus groups will enable changes over time to be captured.
Read the evaluation summary here
Read the second phase evaluation summary here

Coram
Coram is piloting in-depth, data-led and practice-based improvements to two local authorities’ adoption services including through the development of a new diagnostic tool for Special Guardianship Orders being tested in 10 local authorities and the creation of a Permanence Improvement Academy. The aim is to secure permanent placement faster thereby improving child outcomes, reducing costs and providing better post-placement support. The University of Sussex is assessing the extent to which the ‘coaching and support’ provided in one LA is effective and to compare the findings with outcomes achieved in another LA using an alternative approach supported by Coram. The evaluation includes secondary data analysis (on about 200 children) derived from practice improvement diagnostics and cost calculator methods. A sample of cases (10-20) will be scrutinized in depth in the first local authority. Focus groups will be conducted in both LAs with social workers and managers.
Read the evaluation summary here

Cornerstone
Cornerstone is aiming to increase and sustain the pool of appropriate adoptive parents, enable speedier matching and placement and increase placement stability. This is being done by testing a wraparound adoption service in four neighbouring LAs including community recruitment, pre and post adoption mentoring and therapeutic parenting training. The University of Sussex is undertaking a mixed methods evaluation, documentary analysis, verifying administrative and survey data being collected by the project in the four pilot sites, including data derived from cost calculation and practice evaluation and improvement methods. In-depth interviews with (20-30) professionals and parents will be undertaken and focus group discussions held. Participant experience and impact will be evaluated. Programme cost calculations and returns on investment will be verified by the evaluation team.
Read the evaluation summary here

Daybreak
Daybreak is a charity specialising in the provision of family group conferences (FGCs) and the project sets out to increase the number of safe placements made with the agreement of family members. The objectives include: raising the quality of FGCs, promoting consistently good outcomes, reducing court costs and ensuring that final decisions are reached more quickly. The aim of the UCL Institute of Education’s evaluation is to assess the outcomes of offering and delivering the model to all families receiving a ‘letter of intent’ to issue care proceedings. A mixed-methods approach is being adopted, including, secondary data analysis (in two project and two comparator LAs), surveys of all family members and children over five at three data collection points, focus groups with social workers and in-depth interviews with children, parents and social workers involved in 20 cases (10 per LA).
Read the evaluation summary here

Match Fostercare
Match aims to improve the quality of long-term foster care for children by bringing together the corporate parenting responsibility of the child’s social worker, currently held by the local authority, with the supervisory responsibility of the independent fostering placement provider. The project also includes an advocate for the children and other support services. University of East Anglia’s evaluation approach includes documentary analysis of children’s case files, secondary data analysis of contextual data (LAs and national), qualitative data from interviews with children, foster carers, social workers and advocates and from observation of social workers’ supervision meetings with foster carers. The child outcomes arising from these delegated functions will be captured using the SDQ and the Quality of Attachment Relationship Questionnaire (QUARQ). The impact on foster carers will be investigated using a   carer efficacy measure. An economic strand in the evaluation will provide placement cost comparisons. Twenty children in the first phase will be compared with a similar sized group from another independent fostering agency, using the same range of measures.   Focus groups including other key professionals (e.g. IROs) will be held in both agencies.
Read the evaluation summary here

Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime MOPAC
The project aims to identify and protect children (pre-birth) from Female Genital Mutilation across five London Boroughs by placing a specialist social worker within pre and ante-natal services, providing better information and better support to families. Opcit-Uclan’s evaluation aims to capture how the new approach changes professional practice (confidence, efficiency and increases in identification and referral) to enable services to respond to FGM cases efficiently and effectively and the difference it makes to those affected by FGM. The evaluation approach includes network and case file analysis, case studies of existing FGM cases (workers and families affected), focus groups (on perceptions of social work and other practice and the impact of the wider community mediation work) to capture the opinions of those who are not perhaps willing to discuss FGM on an individual case basis. Shadowing community engagement events will be used to capture wider changes in attitudes. Interviews in each of the five Boroughs of 3-5 community representatives and 3-5 families who have been affected by FGM, will be undertaken at two stages, before the pilot is running and towards the end of the evaluation period.
Read the evaluation summary here

NSPCC and SCIE
The Learning into Practice Project (LiPP) aims to test mechanisms for collating and sharing learning about practice arising from Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) at a national level, supporting response to this learning at a local and national level and improving the quality of SCRs. A pilot project involving the central commissioning of SCRs through 5 LSCBs from contrasting LAs is being undertaken. The intention is to provide sufficient evidence to justify a potential national hub aimed at improving the quality and use of SCRs longer-term. The aim of OPM’s evaluation is to focus on stakeholder perceptions of the new mechanisms and the potential for these to achieve the desired medium- and long-term outcomes if these mechanisms were to be implemented on an ongoing basis. The evaluation includes interviews with a sample of stakeholders in the LSCBs, interviews and focus groups with Alliance members, interviews with Chairs, Board Managers and SCR Committee members and a web-based survey. Baseline data is being gathered in the 5 pilot sites with Board members and practitioners to explore perceptions of the context in which SCRs are undertaken.
Read the evaluation summary here

NSPCC NIM (NSPCC 2)
The project aims to introduce the New Orleans Intervention Model (NIM) in South London. The model aims to transform delivery and joint commissioning in children’s social work and CAMHS teams in relation to children aged 0 to 5 years who are in foster care due to maltreatment. This study is linked to a randomised controlled trial of NIM in Scotland (reporting 2020) and will be a first step towards gathering evidence for associations between NIM and positive child development outcomes in England. The evaluation plan produced by Kings College London uses a mixed methods design to achieve three aims. First, the degree of fit of NIM within the London social care, CAMHS and legal context will be assessed using 30-35 interviews and focus groups with families, their social workers, the judges who make the decisions about care and other relevant professionals, focusing on their experiences as the child comes into care and their perceptions and experiences of the NIM assessment and intervention. Second, the associations between NIM and children’s care journeys will be investigated using routine administrative data (e.g. on the time from entry to care to permanent placement, number of returns to care, and repeat maltreatment); a historical cohort for Croydon and children from the same age group in another London local authority will act as comparison groups. Finally, the evaluation will describe mental health symptoms in children who have experienced NIM assessment and intervention, using questionnaires and behavioural measures.
Read the evaluation summary here

Pause
PAUSE is extending a pilot programme from Hackney to 7 local authority areas, which provides therapeutic, behavioural and practical interventions to women who have had multiple children taken into care following repeat pregnancies. It aims to help them to turn their lives around, reduce pregnancy rates and reduce care proceedings and the numbers of children coming into care. Opcit-Uclan’s evaluation takes a mixed method approach using administrative data (e.g. changes in alcohol and drug use) to baseline and monitor progress, documentary analysis of case files, pre-, midway- and post- intervention interviews and focus groups with the women, staff and service providers and around 20 detailed case studies. The interviews will address their experiences of engaging with services, changes in attitudes, efficacy and motivation that act as barriers to their well-being, changes in child-contact and making their voices heard. It has two types of comparison group, ‘business as usual’ and an alternative intervention. The costs of delivery of PAUSE are being estimated using a tailored cost collection tool which will be used in interviews with PAUSE staff.
Read the evaluation summary here

Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council
The programme aims to improve targeted family support to families at risk of requiring a Child in Need intervention/ Child Protection Plan, in particular from the Pakistani Mirpuri and army communities. Its outcomes are to: improve the engagement of these communities with early help services; to improve the acceptability and effectiveness of targeted early help, thereby safely reducing the need for a statutory intervention. The evaluation, being conducted by the Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University, involves the collection of baseline data, including a review of documentation, a case file analysis of families from the target communities, interviews with families and their key workers and interviews with community leaders and other parents. When the project has been operational for 3-4 months, an interim evaluation will involve secondary analysis of data collected by RBWM, case file analysis of families who have been involved in the pilot and further interviews with families and staff. Further case file analysis and stakeholder interviews will be carried out for the final stage of the evaluation which will also include a cost benefit analysis.
Read the evaluation summary here

Safe Families for Children
Safe Families is a faith-based charity that provides support to families in crisis. Their aim is to keep families together and reduce the number of children coming into care. The support offer includes short-term hosting of children aged 10 or under, family befriending and the provision of resources. It has been operating in the North East of England and is now extending to a further 4 geographical hubs. The evaluation, conducted by Dartington Social Research Unit, involves a randomised controlled trial to assess outcomes for children ‘on the edge of care’ by comparing families receiving Safe Families’ intervention with those who receive services as usual. Key outcomes to be examined are the child’s emotional and behavioural functioning, levels of parental anxiety/wellbeing, number of nights children stay away from home, frequency of re-referral to the care system and period between initial referral and re-referral. The study has an embedded process evaluation to examine the profile of families receiving support from Safe Families, assess how it is implemented, take account of contextual factors and explore the views of families and volunteers. A cost benefit analysis is being conducted using Dartington’s Investing in Children model.
Read the evaluation summary here

Sheffield and South Yorkshire Councils
The project aims to develop a sub-regional delivery model for young people experiencing or at risk of child sexual exploitation. This will include recruitment, development and support of specialist foster carers to provide safe placements for young people across South Yorkshire. The evaluation plan produced by the University of Bedfordshire and NatCen uses a mixed-method approach to provide evidence of the impact on young people who are clients of these services. A set-up phase (stage 1) will gather baseline data on ‘business as usual’ for the existing multi-disciplinary response to cases of CSE in the four local authorities and explore the different contexts in which they are each operating, using observation, interviews with team members and by profiling the pathways and outcomes of a sample of young people in the previous 12 months. A questionnaire on staff confidence and capacity regarding CSE and organisational culture will also be administered. The delivery phase (stage 2) will focus on outcomes for young people, using interviews (with young people, carers, social workers, and key workers) and documentary analysis. Workers will also complete a psycho-social assessment and a risk assessment tool for the young people. Measures will be taken at entry to the intervention and again three and six months later. Focus groups and individual interviews (with staff and managers, police, schools and CAMHS) will provide learning on the development of the intervention model. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. Staff, service users and other stakeholders are being engaged throughout to consult on the evaluation plan, topic guides, instruments and findings.
Read the evaluation summary here

Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation
Tavistock aim to create a national Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) development unit testing out the model in 8 new local family justice boards across 11 local authority areas with a view to creating a sustainable long-term funding model for future FDACs across the country. They are also piloting an extended version of the FDAC model, intervening earlier with pregnant women in London, Kent and Coventry who have previously had one or more children removed. The project is doing an internal evaluation which has an outcome study comparing FDAC and non-FDAC cases. NatCen Social Research are carrying out an independent evaluation which will assess the contribution and perceived impacts (short and longer term) of the National Unit, including what the National Unit is contributing, added value to the implementation and delivery of new FDACs, the sustainability of the National Unit and the lessons that can be learnt for future roll-out. This is being done through Theory of Change development; around 60 qualitative in-depth interviews with different stakeholders; and methodological guidance and support around impact evaluation and cost benefit analysis which the National Unit will be carrying out themselves.
Read the evaluation summary here

The Council for Disabled Children
The projects involves five local authorities working closely with families to develop and test new approaches to assessment for disabled children. The evaluation plan will assess this process of co-production to understand how it contributes to the design of new approaches and look at each model tested against previous practice in that local authority, focusing on quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and recommending which approaches have merit for more widespread take-up.   The evaluation uses a mixed method approach: quantitative analysis of key performance measures kept by local authorities; and qualitative measures of staff, parent and child experience of the process and outcomes achieved. Each of the five local authorities will test the approaches they co-produce with 10-15 families. Comparison will be against current ‘business as usual’. While stakeholders have not been closely involved in defining the evaluation plan they will be involved as the plan is implemented.
Read the evaluation summary here

University of Kent
The project aims to explore how technology can support traumatised young people in care to recognise, communicate and cope with strong emotions, and manage their behaviour more effectively. The project will identify how technological tools might support traumatised young people and their carers. The evaluation plan produced by TNS BMRB has three objectives: understanding the extent to which the outputs from the project are grounded in faithful and sensitive translation of the views of the young people and carers who take part; the impact of the process of engagement on those participating (e.g. in terms of their changes to their knowledge of technology as a result, as well as their views on whether they felt they have a voice); and to sense check the outputs of the project with non-participants. The qualitative approach involves observation of the engagement sessions themselves, alongside review of internal evaluation reports, providing comments in relation to whether the content reflects the key issues emergent from observed workshops, and whether the ‘voices’ of participants have been listened to and translated. After the final engagement session, the evaluators will conduct a ‘testing’ group with young people who had not participated in the co-creation exercise, but who would also be potential users of the technology. The overall aim of this stage would be to validate the outputs with a fresh group of participants and gather some ‘external’ views on the concept.
Read the evaluation summary here

Wigan and Rochdale Councils
The project aims to find alternatives to high cost and secure accommodation for victims of, or those at risk of, child sexual exploitation, to improve outcomes for those young people and their families. The team plans to develop and deliver a research programme and pilot which involves testing a new hub and spoke social care service model with 30 young people in Wigan and Rochdale, with the intention of scaling this up across Greater Manchester local authorities. The evaluation plan produced by the University of Bedfordshire and NatCen uses a mixed-method approach to provide formative evidence in respect of the approach to service design and the development of the hub and spoke pilot, and evidence of the impact on young people and families who are clients of the pilot services. An investigative/scoping analysis and engagement phase (stage 1) will see an embedded researcher gathering baseline data on ‘business as usual’ for the existing multi-disciplinary response to cases of CSE in Wigan and Rochdale, using observation, interviews with team members and by profiling the pathways and outcomes of a sample of young people in the previous 12 months. The development of the action-research process will also be observed and recorded. A pilot phase (stage 2) will focus on capturing learning from the hub and spoke pilot and outcomes for young people and families, using observation, interviews (with young people, carers, social workers, staff, managers and board members) and documentary analysis. Workers will also complete a psycho-social assessment and a risk assessment tool for the young people. Measures will be taken at entry to the intervention and three months later, with a further follow-up at six to twelve months. Assessment of costs will also be undertaken. Staff, service users and other stakeholders are being engaged throughout to consult on the evaluation plan, topic guides, instruments and findings.
Read the evaluation summary here