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The Children's Social Care Innovation Programme

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme was launched by the Department for Education (DfE) to test innovative ways of supporting vulnerable children and young people, with investment of up to £200m (2014 – 2020). Funding rounds are now closed, but there is much learning and evidence about what works emerging from the 95 projects suported by the Programme.

Information about the individual projects, as well as insights gained from the Programme as a whole, are available on the Projects and Insights page. The focus of the Programme now is to share insights from projects, encouraging and enabling leaders and practitioners to draw on best practice and use properly evidenced innovations with confidence.

Programme objectives

  1. Improve life chances for children receiving help from the social care system

  2.  Create stronger incentives and mechanisms for innovation, experimentation and replication of successful new approaches

  3. Drive better value for money across children's social care

  • Find out more about the programme evaluation approach

How it works

  1. The Programme supports individual pilots and change programmes which test or spread effective ways of supporting vulnerable children

  2. The Programme changes conditions in the system so it is better able to innovate in future by providing the licence to test new approaches as well as by building an evidence base and sharing what works to improve outcomes for childre

  • Explore our project summaries or view projects by map

Round One

Round One of the Programme (2014-16) invited applications across two focus areas where there were particular challenges in prevailing practice, and clear scope for radical innovation and change. These were:

The DfE published two papers on the above focus areas (click the areas above to view), drawing together and analysing key research evidence and practice developments.

Round Two & Three

Round Two of the Programme (2016-20) also invited applications to scale and spread successful innovations from Round One.

Round Three – the Targeted Funding Opportunity (2017-20) invited applications in four policy areas where there is a need to quickly develop and test new approaches. The four policy areas were set out in the DfE’s policy paper ‘Putting Children First‘ and are:

  • The recommendations of Sir Martin Narey’s report on residential care, particularly piloting ‘Staying Close’, and regional commissioning of residential care
  • The use of social investment to improve support for care leavers
  • Alternative delivery models for children’s social care
  • Targeted support to prevent children entering child protection system

There are currently 45 live Round Two and Three projects. Find them on the Projects and Insights page.

Spring Consortium

In June 2014, the DfE appointed the Spring Consortium as its delivery partner for the Programme. The Consortium consists of Deloitte, Mutual Ventures and Innovation Unit; three organisations with a compelling breadth and depth of skills, knowledge, insight, ideas, energy and passion for the sector.