Our blog is a hub for sharing news, information, research, evidence, analysis and debate. Blog posts are written by and for professionals across the sector. The views expressed are the authors’ own and do not represent those of Research in Practice.
Verity Sutcliffe has been a Research in Practice Link Officer at Devon County Council since 2014. In this blog, she outlines some of the benefits, and challenges associated with the role, and provides some advice for those who are new to the position.
In order to embed their learning and to continue developing their skills after the Practice Supervisor Development Programme, supervisors need support and encouragement from their organisations.
Leaders of services across the children’s and adults’ sector are navigating difficult decisions in which three factors loom large – the cost of meeting people’s needs, the complexity of people’s lives and the interconnectedness of solutions, and the moral imperative to ensure that services and systems are grounded in compassion.
Providing Practice Supervisors with a place, space and time to learn, develop, reflect and network with other social workers, away from the workplace, is an incredibly valuable backdrop to the Practice Supervisor Development Programme.
Organised crime groups are increasingly using county lines as a business model to transport and sell drugs. Vulnerable children and young people with adverse childhood experiences are particularly susceptible to this type of exploitation. In this blog, SPACE describe what county lines can look like.
Boys and young men can also be affected by criminal and sexual exploitation. What are the challenges and opportunities for those working with them to overcome barriers to support and protection?
When someone experiences trauma there is consistent and clear evidence that shows the natural psychological responses that occur. Attuned and reflective supervision enables us to hold genuine empathy, respect and unconditional positive regard for those we are trying to support.
Social work is a challenging career. What psychological factors are associated with resilience in trainee social workers? Dr Louise Bunce at Oxford Brookes University has led new research to find out.
The decision to take a child into care is protective and only ever made in the most necessary of situations, but the care experience is inevitably full of change, loss and challenges for children.
Each year SafeLives run a series of Spotlights focusing on different groups that have experienced domestic abuse. Each Spotlight brings together insight from survivors, practitioners, academics and experts to find examples of practice and work towards a multi-agency approach that sees the whole picture for every family.
Intervention in pregnancy, or following birth where there are safeguarding concerns, is one of the most challenging areas of social work practice. During the pre-birth period, practitioners must skilfully manage the respective rights and needs of mothers and family members, whilst maintaining a focus on the welfare of the unborn child.
The NSPCC has delivered preventative services at two army garrisons for nearly 20 years. In this blog, a recent survey compares the experiences of new and existing service users.
Children and young people’s mental health is increasingly being reported in the media, highlighting the need to provide essential support. In this blog Paula Lewis, author of our recent Strategic Briefing, considers the role of commissioners in transforming the children and young people’s mental health system.
Location should not be a barrier to accessing learning resources. The nature of Cafcass’ work means that their Library Information Service comprehensively covers both public and private law, as well as resources to support the continuing professional development of staff across an organisation.
Successful supervision encourages professional curiosity and development, offering a formal platform for supportive discussions to take place. In this blog, Penny Sturt and Jo Rowe introduce findings from a pilot scheme which used supervision to support staff who safeguard children in schools.
Strengths-based practice is an increasingly popular approach to social work and wider support services for children and families. In this blog author of our recent Strategic Briefing on this topic, Rebecca Godar highlights practical applications leaders and managers should consider in order to develop their organisational culture.
In this blog the NSPCC share their approach to developing services, including a six-stage development cycle from initial concept, through to testing and evaluation of new services in our UK-wide service centres.
The understanding and evidence base in relation to child sexual exploitation has grown significantly, and continues to evolve at a rapid pace. The NSPCC share their revised service, providing a framework for practice when working with exploitation.
Experiences of the Practice Supervisor Development Programme suggest that it is having a significant impact on how the participants are finding their feet and developing more secure footings in their new roles. In this blog, Gillian Ruch provides a facilitator's perspective of the programme so far.
Making good judgements with and for people is the essence of social care. Time to reflect, time to think, time to use wisdom and expertise, time to consult with colleagues, time to look at research is not a luxury.
Sam Kyriacou, Implementation Manager at the NSPCC, shares her tips for embedding new programmes, tools and ways of working.
Ground-breaking research led by Professor Paul Bywaters is providing clear evidence of systemic inequities - in the scale of funding cuts to Children's Services, in child protection intervention rates and the relationship between poverty, inequality and child neglect. Here, Brid Featherstone and Kate Morris reflect on headline messages from research and Research in Practice workshops.
Camden Children’s Services, together with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, is working to develop and embed a systemic model of social work. Read about the programme, including impact and tips to support whole system change.
There is increasing research into the importance of sleep. In particular, how a lack of sleep can result in behavioural difficulties and impact emotional wellbeing. However, in busy Children’s Services do we always spot a sleep issue? Services often respond to what they perceive to be the primary concern and hope that sleep will improve as a result.
What are the difficulties faced by people in prison who have been in care? Oli Preston looks at emerging programmes of work that are aiming to support this often overlooked group.
Up to 700 newly-appointed Practice Supervisors will be participating in the Department for Education funded Practice Supervisor Development Programme. In this blog, Lisa Thornton focuses on the reflective one-to-one development sessions that were offered as a follow up from the programme.
How can we prevent young carers undertaking inappropriate or excessive care? What are the challenges, evidence and actions needed to ensure we are not relying upon children and young people to provide care? Sara Gowen from Sheffield Young Carers shares their work.
Establishing sibling contact following adoption is not without challenge, but if maintained, can help a child make sense of their identity and be rewarding for their family. In this blog, Beth Neil introduces resources to support practitioners who are deciding about, and supporting contact after adoption.
When you were a child, did you have anyone outside of your family setting who you could turn to if things were difficult or you just needed someone new to talk to? Croydon Council discuss the role and value of the Independent Visitor.
Differing legal frameworks governing Children’s and Adults’ Services, combined with the range of services involved in supporting young people in transition, can create challenges for practitioners in providing joined-up support for young people.
Good communication is not just about clear verbal or written articulation; it’s a combination of skills that includes listening, understanding and sharing information.
Up to 700 newly-appointed Practice Supervisors will be participating in the Department for Education funded Practice Supervisor Development Programme. In this blog Suzi Rockett, Social Work Practice Development Manager in Barnsley Council, discusses her experience in the programme pilot.
In this blog our Link Officer of the Year, Verity Sutcliffe, shares how usage statistics and an evidence-informed approach helped to promote and embed Research in Practice resources within Devon County Council.
The Children's Society recently published the 2018 edition of the Good Childhood Report. In this blog, Senior Researcher Larissa Pople outlines the latest statistics from the report which offers new insights into how gender can affect a child's wellbeing.
As the first stage of the Practice Supervisor Development Programme begins, Dez Holmes shares our journey so far and emerging messages from multiple sources of knowledge.
In this post, Dyfrig Williams, Learning Events Coordinator at Research in Practice, shares approaches to innovation in learning and invites Partners to submit ideas around how we might improve our service.
Professional dialogue between Ofsted and practice leaders in children, young people and family services
In this blog, Research in Practice share professional dialogue from representatives across children, young people and family services, including views on permanence, planning, supervision and how best to articulate what needs to improve.
Restorative practices can provide an explicit communication framework that can be used reactively to guide and support people when relationships have broken down, and proactively to teach others the skills that will help them build and maintain healthy relationships.
As systemic, relational practice becomes more common place in Children’s Services, an important shift is happening in early help. In this blog, Tim Fisher and Becca Dove write about the progress being made in Camden and the benefits of facilitating Family Group Conferences.
A principal aim of social work teaching partnerships is to improve the quality of teaching on pre and post-qualifying social work training programmes. This blog reflects upon the experiences of a social work teaching partnership from the perspectives of an academic and a practitioner.
The last five years or so has seen unprecedented visibility for transgender/non-binary people across the UK and indeed the globe. In this blog, Aedan Wolton discusses the role of social work in the lives of young transgender people.
‘Transition’ is a process or period of changing from one state to another. Within some aspects of social care, in particular safeguarding, the notion of transition can imply a definitive ‘line in the sand’ where assumptions about capacity change overnight and eligibility for safeguarding support is very different depending which side of this line a person falls.
A mental health condition can affect the way a person thinks, feels, acts and behaves. When working with parents who have a mental health concern it is important that social workers consider the cause and effects, whilst maintaining a whole family approach.
How do we change the narrative from 'why doesn't she leave?' to 'why doesn't he stop?'. Candi Lawson and Alison Higgins from Sheffield City Council write about their domestic abuse programme which engages with perpetrators to challenge their attitudes and behaviour.
Growing interest and emerging evidence – how and why adolescent neglect is climbing the safeguarding agenda
In this blog, Phil Raws from The Children’s Society discusses how and why adolescent neglect is climbing the safeguarding agenda due to a range of emerging evidence.
In the face of rising demand and shrinking resources, local authorities are looking for new ways of delivering services for children and families. As a result, new types of delivery and relationships between the public and voluntary sectors are emerging.
In this blog, the International Centre for researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire introduce a toolkit to support schools to address harmful sexual behaviour.
For children who have experienced abuse or trauma, it may feel almost impossible to talk about experiences in neatly packaged sentences. Instead, the vehicle of music, with its potential to express every shade of emotion from euphoria to melancholy, provides far more scope for children to explore who they are, where they’ve been and who they would like to become.
For professionals working in a trauma-informed way, the most important service that can be provided can be listening to young people carefully, helping them recognise how past experiences influence their ways of relating to the world today and offering a trustworthy relationship where they can try to build a safer life for themselves.
Applying reliable research methods to complex social interventions comes with many challenges that evaluators need to consider. In this blog, Oli Preston, discusses some of the barriers to evaluation.
Just for Kids Law has developed a unique model of advocacy provision that works to holistically support a young person, so that they are equipped to engage with all the agencies they are working with.
Helen Wheatley, editor of the latest Research in Practice Evidence Review, details learning on social work practice, research and emerging findings regarding the support available to disabled children, young people and their families.
Food is at the very heart of all aspects of care. In this blog Magdalena Przybylka discusses the importance of food being recognised as safeguarding issue in children’s care sector.
Specialist voluntary sector workers have historically played a key part in local responses to child sexual exploitation. New research shows that their success at engaging young people rests on their independence, which allows them to work in flexible ways that emphasise young people’s choice.
Caring Dads aim to help men make positive changes to their parenting. Their courses change controlling, abusive and neglectful behaviour to improve relationships between fathers and their children, creating safer and happier families.
An NSPCC programme aims to address identified gaps in service provision and to support children living with parental mental illness.
The service response to vulnerable adolescents had always appeared to us to be full of contradictions and paradoxes, but it was the findings of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham that acted as a trigger for Waltham Forest to fundamentally review and change its approach to safeguarding adolescents. This blog outlines the challenge for the system and how Waltham Forest drove improvements with the support of a framework provided by Research in Practice.
The UK continues to have the highest teenage birth rate in Western Europe with many teenage parents struggling with education, money and housing. An Action for Children research project sought to discover the challenges parents face and how they can be supported to meet these.
Transitioning is a natural and normal part of growth and development for all of us. However, for children and young people in care, they have the added pressure of accessing services and expectations to be able to adapt to change and prepare for their future more readily than children and young people living with their families.
West Berkshire Council have used a restorative practice approach to transform early intervention emotional health services for children. In this blog, Andrea King discusses their journey to implement the Emotional Health Academy.
A child or young person cannot be deprived of their liberty unless it is justified and lawfully authorised. Caroline Bennett, author of the latest Research in Practice Strategic Briefing, discusses the area of decision-making and mental capacity for children and young people.
Central Bedfordshire Council Children’s Services are leading an ambitious transformation programme. In this blog, the Director of Children’s Services highlights the importance of building a resilient workforce when implementing change in a complex landscape.
Supporting evidence-informed practice in Cafcass: the importance of an in-house library and information service
In this blog Jo Wood, Link Officer at Cafcass and Link Officer Award winner, discusses supporting evidence-informed practice and embedding Research in Practice into their service.
Good supervision is highly valued by social workers and is one of the most important ways that managers can support their staff. Yet we know little about the detail of what happens when local authority supervisors and social workers meet to discuss casework and not enough about the impact that different approaches to supervision have on practice and outcomes for children and families.
Shelley Caldwell, Principal Social Worker at North Somerset Council, discusses key messages from the Link Officers’ Annual Meeting and the importance of strengthening social work through research evidence, professional practice wisdom and children, young people and families expertise.
Given that relatively little is known about the impact of sexual abuse involving online and digital technology compared to offline abuse, the NSPCC recently commissioned researchers from the universities of Bath and Birmingham to explore and compare how online and offline sexual abuse impacts upon young people and how professionals respond to it. The report reveals some issues that need to be addressed in order to fully understand and represent the experiences of children and young people in the development of services.
Improving our prevention of and response to child sexual exploitation (CSE) requires not just hard work and tenacity, but a willingness to engage with evidence. It is easy to be evidence-based when you agree with the messages, but when research challenges established practice, it takes real grit to reflect critically on what we do.
Assessment of disorganised attachment in young children is often used to screen for child abuse. However, disorganised attachment isn’t necessarily an indicator of abuse. Evidence shows that exposure to multiple socio-economic risks is almost as likely to result in disorganised attachment, and therefore the classification alone shouldn’t be used to guide child protection decisions.
Throughout all of the controversy surrounding the government’s Troubled Families Programme (TFP), the belief in the value and efficacy of the family intervention work carried out by workers in local authorities and voluntary sector organisations has largely endured. Stephen Crossley looks at the evidence base underpinning the family intervention model, and how the model was used in the Troubled Families Programme.
Is it possible to prevent young people from becoming NEET (not in employment, education or training) after leaving school, by providing them with practical experiences of the world of work in order to increase their social capital? A recent European-wide project ran pilots in Portugal, Spain and Italy to test out this theory.
The latest Good Childhood Report from the Children’s Society presents new insights into how multiple disadvantages affect wellbeing in children and young people. It also exposes gender differences in children’s subjective wellbeing in areas such as happiness with appearance or relationships with friends, and considers some of the possible reasons for these.
How do professionals describe their knowledge, skills and experience in relation to supporting children and young people with Harmful Sexual Behaviour? What are the challenges and what works well to build capacity in this field of work?
Newport has been working to evaluate and improve the way they engage and include fathers in work with children and families. Paul Cryer discusses their initial audit and findings, the steps they have taken to promote and embed engagement with fathers, and helpful tips for practice.
The ability to vote, live independently and travel freely when reaching 18 can give us a sense empowerment and control. But the journey from adolescence to adulthood can be unsettling, uncertain and familiar, particularly for young people leaving care.
When is contact after adoption right, what sort of contact might work, and how can we support it in practice? What are the benefits of thinking individually about each child’s needs and tailoring the contact planning for the child and adults involved?
Every year the number of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children placed in care rises. It is becoming increasingly important to examine how professionals within Children’s Services interact with these communities and how this can affect the support offered to children and their families.
Following a two-year project to examine the relative merits of traditional training versus Team-Based Learning, Research in Practice reviews the evaluation results of how well Team-Based Learning really works, and asks whether ‘no evidence is good evidence’.
Carefree Cornwall is a young person led organisation working in Cornwall with young people in and leaving care. Their focus is on giving young people in and leaving care the chance to do things for themselves and others.
Reflective supervision underpins good practice with children and families. Like other children’s social care and family support roles, social work is a demanding and challenging job – in order for us to really understand the context of the child's daily lived experience we need to think about many complex and competing issues. Good quality reflective supervision supports us to do this, helping us to find a way through any 'analysis paralysis' to develop our practice knowledge, skills and wisdom; make difficult decisions and ultimately keep children safe.
In the face of the serious challenges, many local authorities, their partners and service providers are thinking about how they can work differently to make the most of reduced resources. While innovation and service redesign have always been a feature of the children’s sector, these difficult times have led more and more children’s leaders to try new approaches to service design and ways of working.
You can’t grow roses in concrete – why whole system reform is needed to support frontline change in child protection casework
The Munro Review of Child Protection has resulted in reduced bureaucracy and new autonomy for Children’s Social Care Departments that allows for the needs of children, young people and their families to take centre stage. How is the sector adjusting to this newfound independence to regain the professional confidence to make judgements and decisions? And why is whole system reform of an organisation crucial to support changes in frontline child protection practice?
As one of four National pilots in England, the South East London Teaching Partnership details its learning and development programme, which aspires to deliver high-quality learning and development for social work, from entry-level through to senior leadership.
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) are doing important work with parents wishing to turn their lives around. They are supported by an umbrella organisation, the FDAC National Unit. In this article, Jo Tunnard looks at a recent evaluation of the work carried out by the National Unit, and examines the obstacles and opportunities for local FDACs over the next 12-18 months.
‘Looking out for Lottie’ – how award winning online simulation is improving child protection training on child sexual exploitation
The Centre for Child Protection (CCP) at the University of Kent has developed innovative work into the use of serious game simulations to upskill professionals into complex and difficult aspects of child protection practice. These simulations have also been developed to help children and young people protect themselves from online and face-to-face grooming.
Supporting Change in Partnership (SCIP) - a new approach to working with disabled children and their families
The Supporting Change in Partnership (SCIP) programme in Cornwall is a strengths-based, solution-focused, early intervention model to support disabled children, young people and families. It has reduced the need for families of disabled children and young people to enter statutory social work services by providing proportionate support at early stages.
The Young Victims’ Service is a new venture funded by the Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner and delivered by North Somerset Youth Offending and Prevention Service in a ground breaking partnership between PCC, North Somerset Council and Third Sector organisations.
A small but growing evidence base offers pointers towards helpful practice skills that are embedded in a value base that recognises fathers as resources for children and mothers.
Young people who are working closely with their local authority, Devon County Council, talk about how they are meaningfully involved in designing services, and provide a range of suggestions for other authorities looking to involve young people.
What does personalisation mean? Helen Wheatley looks at how the NICE guideline – Transition from children’s to adults’ services for young people using health or social care services – was developed in a way that supports personalised transitions for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Parental neglect of adolescents is not well-represented in research and there is no consensus on the definition of adolescent neglect. In reality we know little about how it impacts on young people’s lives and interacts with other areas of risk and vulnerability. A study by the Children’s Society – Troubled Teens: A study of the links between parenting and adolescent neglect – trials a new approach to define and measure adolescent neglect and attempts to identify when parenting input is so infrequent that it becomes neglectful.
Involving young people in decision-making processes when responding to CSE is crucial. Yet what feels right in principle can be harder in practice. As a sector, we need to move away from working to avoid risk, towards an approach where risks are properly and realistically managed. Participatory working practices can enable this, and can also have considerable benefits for young people in shifting the balance of power to support their own protective potential.
Listening to the views, wishes and feelings of children and young people is fundamental to carrying out effective assessments. But how do we ensure that we also listen to those who may find it difficult to communicate and who struggle to make their voice heard?
Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) offer an alternative approach to ordinary care proceedings. Two full reports have just been released with the findings of research studies that demonstrate the benefits of the FDAC problem-solving principles and positive working practice with parents.
Many of the children Missing People publicise are unaccompanied or trafficked, with no family residing in the UK, and extremely vulnerable to criminal exploitation. In order to safeguard this vulnerable group of children effectively, all professionals and carers who come into contact with them must fully understand the risks children face, including the risks if they go missing.
What does ‘Good’ look like? It involves a demonstrable commitment to building resilience, supporting workforce development, and an evidence-informed approach.
We owe it to these children and young people, to assist them to understand their harmful sexual behaviour and support them to hopefully move away from such behaviour and to have a positive future.
Despite harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) being something that all local authorities and multi-agency partners need to acknowledge and work with, there is no national strategy to identify or respond to this issue. Leeds has been involved in a recent pilot of a new set of auditing tools designed to assess current levels of identification and response to harmful sexual behaviours. These tools are intended to promote a shared understanding and consistent approach to dealing with HSB.
Analysis and critical thinking in assessment – using RiP resources to support staff development and young-person centred practice
Delphine Girma discusses how The Children’s Society has been using the Research in Practice resource, Analysis and Critical Thinking in Assessment, as part of their recent development training for practice staff.
At the heart of most difficult conversations is a sense of being judged. In the face of judgment, we tend to withdraw or attack. Silence or violence. It takes enormous maturity to stay even-keeled and not react defensively.
How can we measure the true costs and outcomes of children’s social care? The Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University has developed a methodology and software tool that attempts to place the child at the centre of resource management.
Successfully replicating a youth offending intervention takes more than just a strong service. It requires a strong organisation, with the right people, in the right environment.
Cafcass is committed to continuous learning and quality assurance. They recently launched a tool to assess the impact of their work on children’s outcomes, in order to identify strengths and learning points, and to enhance professional development.
The Children’s Society recently launched the latest edition of its Good Childhood Report, an in-depth study into children’s wellbeing. They present the latest insights into how good life is from the perspective of children themselves.
When a child is reunified by returning home from care to their birth family, it is hoped that this will be the best possible outcome for them. However, it is clear from the evidence that better approaches are needed to assess whether reunification is possible, and can be supported in a way that will improve the chances of it being successful.
Communicating with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs, and/or developmental delay
Disabled children and young people face significant barriers and challenges to participation in decisions that affect them. This includes decisions about their own support and care, about the services that they use and about strategic level decisions.
Each Change Project goes through three distinct phases: the resource development phase; the pilot phase and the development; and launch of the final resources. Ferdia Earle explains how Research in Practice is taking a two-pronged approach to evaluation and updates the Partner network on the Reflective supervision Change Project.
Dorset County Council is on a five-year journey to transform the way they deliver social work and to create a culture where great social work can thrive. But what does ‘good’ social work look like, and how can outcomes be demonstrated?
Neglect is the most prevalent form of child maltreatment so understanding its impacts better is vital to improving prevention and intervention. With increasing attention rightly being paid to child sexual exploitation (CSE) and harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) as well as intrafamilial sexual abuse (IFCSA), it is important to consider how neglect might – for some children - exacerbate vulnerability.
The new assessment process for Youth Offending Teams, AssetPlus, promised to direct case managers towards a more ‘desistance-led’ methodology. This should result in intervention plans emphasising and developing strengths in the pursuance of crime-free lifestyles, rather than concentrating on mitigating risks. However, on inspecting AssetPlus assessments it became clear that this change might be trickier to negotiate than anticipated.
As social care workers, we are good at caring for others but often we are not so good at looking after ourselves. If we are to be effective in our practice then we need to develop emotional resilience. So how can we thrive in the increasingly stressful world of frontline practice?
In this article, a young person draws out some of the key messages from the Research in Practice Frontline Briefing on Understanding Adolescence to highlight what social workers should bear in mind when working with adolescents.
When we talk about the need to assess wellbeing in looked after children - in order to ensure that they are receiving the right kind of support and care - it is essential that we have a clear idea of what we mean and how exactly we intend to measure it.
The release of Sir Martin Narey’s independent report provides insight into children’s residential care in England and recommendations for the workforce.
Love conquers all. The cliché of old. So, if this is to be believed, why is it so hard to access or receive love as a child in care?
At Sandcastle Care they believe that residential childcare can and should be a therapeutic experience that can both nurture and heal. As a result, they have adopted a new direction of travel, placing relationships with the children they support at the forefront of their care.
For some children, returning home from care is the best possible outcome. But sadly, for many others, this can result in further abuse or neglect. Many children end up back in care and a significant number move back and forth between care and their family.
When working with carers, it is essential to remember the wide variety of social issues that may have an impact on their caring role, from gender, ethnicity and education, to income and family relationships.
How do you identify children and teenagers who might not know they are what social workers and academics call ‘young carers’? How do you develop policy for families that have children who have lives hidden from society? And what support is helpful to a young person who may have caring responsibilities, but is at risk of being deported?
In conversations with many mothers of cancer patients many don’t even see themselves as a ‘carer’; they think of what they do as simply part of being a mother. However this statement is minimising the role they play in the care of their children.
At the start I didn’t consider myself a carer. I didn’t even question it. I was a parent doing my job, doing what you are supposed to do. You have a child and it is your responsibility. We felt very alone, in our house looking after a new baby that we knew there was something wrong with, but we didn’t really know what we were supposed to do.
Children's Social Care Innovation Programme: Delivering an integrated service for complex and troubled young people
In this blog, North Yorkshire County Council shares some of the key findings and examples of good practice arising from the implementation of their No Wrong Door (NWD) model.
The need for greater opportunities for reflection for those working with children and families is widely recognised by practitioners and supervisors. So far, however, understanding from research of what reflective supervision is, its impact and how we might do it well has been inconclusive.
Using the evidence to support learning and inform practice: establishing a systematic approach to research enquiries
Southwark Council has developed a system to manage research enquiries, share knowledge and identify where more information is needed to support research partnerships and inform service development and delivery across the organisation.
Sue Williams, Director of Family Safeguarding at Hertfordshire County Council updates the RiP network on the progress of their Family Safeguarding project and how they are evaluating and sharing their work.
Christine Barter, NSPCC Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, and author of the upcoming violence in young people’s relationships: Frontline Briefing has researched the issue of violence and abuse in young people’s intimate relationships for the past 15 years. In this blog, she highlights what we know about intimate partner violence and abuse in adolescence.
Under devolution deals, local areas will take on more powers, previously held by central government, in specific policy areas. This should mean local areas or structures will have greater control and decision-making power on how they commission and deliver services. But there is some scepticism over the extent to which local autonomy will be granted and how much power DfE and other government bodies will retain over decisions.
‘You see (domestic abuse) from your point of view, but to hear from a child and to see it from their point of view is totally different; it opens your eyes.’ (Mother)
The ‘conspiracy of silence’ refers to the reluctance that mothers and children may have to talk with each other about their experience of domestic abuse after it has ended. NSPCC’s evaluation of its Domestic Abuse Recovering Together (DART) service indicates that breaking the conspiracy of silence can improve esteem, confidence, wellbeing and relationships.
The subject of inter-parental relationships is not a common ‘water cooler’ early intervention topic, but it should be. It makes perfect sense that the relationship between parents is going to affect their relationship with their children, and their ability to parent effectively.
Vicki Swain is Campaigns Manager at The Fostering Network, where they have recently been running a programme of work to raise awareness of how important it is to support young people in care to maintain stable and ongoing relationships.
Tina Dineen is a newly qualified social worker at Medway Council, where she works in a team in the Children’s Advice and Duty Service (CADS).
Sharon Graham is QA Manager and Principal Social Worker in Children’s Services at Medway Council. Here she discusses the importance of continuous professional development, taking stock of the social work journey, and making time for reflective practice.
Rosie Smithson is a Senior Research Officer working for Birmingham City Council’s Strategic Research Team. Rosie conducts in-depth, qualitative research into residents’, service users’ and staff experiences of Council services.
John Carpenter and Tricia Jessiman (School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol), Simon Hackett (School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University) and Trish O’Donnell (Development Manager for sexual abuse, NSPCC) have co-written this article looking at the findings from a large-scale evaluation of Letting the Future In, a service designed by the NSPCC to support children who have experienced sexual abuse through the provision of creative therapies.
How can we use evidence to help us to make sure that we are spending limited resources wisely and getting the most impact for the money we spend? We’ll be debating and discussing these issues with the experts at our upcoming Partnership Conference on Responding to adolescent risk, focusing on the latest evidence for effective protection and support for young people.
Mike Rees co-ordinates the Greater Manchester (GM) Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Innovation project on behalf of Wigan and Rochdale Councils, Project Phoenix, The Children’s Society and Research in Practice.
Ben Byrne is Head of the Youth Support Service in Surrey. He is a social worker who has spent much of his career working in and around the criminal justice system. 2016 looks as though it will be a big year of change for youth justice, and here Ben offers his contribution to the debate about ‘what next’ for youth justice.
In this article Annamarie Hassall, Director of Programmes at NCB (the National Children’s Bureau), discusses how LSCBs strive to improve practice and considers what approaches might assist them in doing so.
Shauna Harris, RiP’s Link Officer of the Year and Library Assistant for Cafcass, recommends how Partners can make the most of their membership, and how she ensures the Cafcass workforce is kept up-to-date with Research in Practice learning resources.
Natasha Rego, Project Lead of MyLife, MyFuture at the Mental Health Foundation, discusses their programme working with looked after young people to support their emotional needs and resilience.
Innovation and workforce development was the theme of this year’s Research in Practice Link Officers Annual Meeting, known fondly throughout the network as ‘LOAM’. There was certainly plenty of innovative content from the wide range of speakers over the two days at the end of October. Speakers took two approaches to the theme, the first group described innovative approaches to developing the workforce and the other considered how to support the workforce to establish new ways of delivering services.
‘The key aim for the practitioner working with neglect is to ensure a healthy living
environment and healthy relationships for children’.
Paul Whalley and Gillian Churchill, NSPCC Senior Evaluation Officers, discuss how working with families at risk of neglect has produced positive outcomes.
Cath Connolly is a Systemic Psychotherapist with 25 years' experience of practice in various roles in the Children's and NHS sectors, including extensive clinical and teaching experience. Cath is based in the National Implementation Service and has worked for The South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust for 16 years.
In this article, she discusses some of the challenges and rewards of developing a training programme for the residential childcare sector and gathering the evidence of what works. RESuLT is being independently evaluated by The University of Bristol, Loughborough University and Ipsos MORI with funding from the Department for Education’s ‘Innovation Programme’.
Greater Manchester leads one of four Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) related projects, funded by the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme. It is led by Wigan and Rochdale Councils, sits within Greater Manchester’s wider Project Phoenix approach to CSE and includes working partners the Children’s Society, Research in Practice, NatCen and the University of Bedfordshire.
The focus in Greater Manchester is around the rapid escalation for young people from medium risk to secure accommodation. This in turn allows the wider partnership to explore the whole system. As important is the approach being adopted, one based on better insight and new practice based on the principles of co-design and innovation.
Dr Alice Haynes (@AliceHaynes85), Senior Policy and Research Analyst at the NSPCC, discusses the need for a system-wide preventative approach to child neglect.
Gwynne Rayns, Research in Practice Associate and facilitator of our Research Messages Workshop: Building reflective practice - Using mentalisation theory in effective direct work, discusses mentalisation and being mindful of our own and others’ mental states in her interview with RiP.
Joan Hunt, Honorary Professor, Cardiff Law School, introduces the Practice Tools she is currently developing for Research in Practice on Assessing and supporting family and friends care.
Working together towards personalised transition for young people with a learning disability, autism and behaviours that challenge
Zandrea Stewart is a qualified social worker and experienced senior manager of integrated learning disability and mental health services. She has a longstanding advisory position representing Association of Directors of Adult Social Services as the national lead for autism and as such has contributed to the development of guidance including the Autism Strategy and recent Statutory Guidance, NICE Quality Standards amongst others. Zandrea has championed the need to consider the aspirations and opportunities of young people with a learning disability, autism and or mental health in preparing them for an adult life. Here, she discusses why this area of work is so important, and gives an overview of the key issues that need addressing in practice.
Research in Practice (RiP) recently worked alongside Core Assets and Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council to evaluate the impact of training and support around working in an outcomes-focused way, which was delivered to staff across Children’s Services. This blog, by Rob Hutchinson CBE (Associate of Core Assets), Annabel Lloyd (Merthyr Tydfil Council) and Kath Wilkinson (RiP), provides a summary of the evaluation findings in the context of a service-wide culture change.
Keir Irwin Rogers, a researcher with Catch22’s Dawes Unit, discusses the recently published Catch22-Missing People report examining the links between children and young people going missing from home and their involvement with gangs.
As part of our Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme blog series, Research in Practice Partners North Yorkshire County Council, discuss the implementation of their ‘No Wrong Door’ model where young people on the edge of care and their families are given access to round-the-clock support to resolve issues that can lead to adolescents going into care (such as being arrested by the police).
Having your cake and eating it too: Exploring replication and relationships in the Realising Ambition programme
Jay Crangle, Communication and Influencing Manager for Realising Ambition at Catch 22, explains the many layers that combine the programme into a meaningful whole.
In this article Aaron Standon, Social Work Development Officer at Devon County Council, discusses the research they are undertaking to determine the skills and knowledge that new social workers are bringing into the workplace, and explores what some of the initial reading seems to indicate about current social work education. This research will inform the package of support provided by their Social Work Academy to meet the learning and development needs of new social workers.
What does the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme mean for Leeds? Saleem Tariq, Chief Officer at Leeds City Council, outlines their Innovation Programme - Family Valued.
Merle Davies, Director for the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development (CECD) and Blackpool’s Better Start Programme discusses their programme and our shared responsibility for ensuring good long-term outcomes for our children and families.
Our Research in Practice Associate Rebecca Godar considers the aims, methods and common themes among the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme projects’ for rethinking children’s social work in our blog series.
Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme: rethinking support for adolescents in or on the edge of care
Our Research in Practice Associate Rebecca Godar discusses the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme projects on rethinking support for adolescents in or on the edge of care, in the second strand of our Innovation Programme blogs.
Are we really helping? Representing the voices of children and families in the development and evaluation of early intervention services
Kath Wilkinson, Research and Evaluation Officer for Research in Practice, looks at how gathering the views of service users for evaluation works in practice and how robust service evaluation can help to make the case for further investment in and development of services, such as those supporting early intervention for children who are on the edge of care.
Sarah Palmer, a Practitioner from the NSPCC East London service centre talks about her experience of delivering Face to Face, a service for children and young people in care or on the edge of care, which uses a solution-focused approach and which has resulted in a new toolkit for practitioners, foster carers and teachers to use with young people.
As the Director of Research in Practice, Dez Holmes champions evidence-informed practice across the children’s sector in order to improve outcomes for children, young people and families. Here she discusses why ‘best evidence’ goes beyond research and includes practice wisdom and the experience of people accessing services.
Rolling out FDAC: using care proceedings to help families overcome their substance misuse problems and keep their children safe
In this article Jo Tunnard of RyanTunnardBrown describes the work of six Partner agencies collaborating to extend the Family Drug and Alcohol Court model (FDAC) across England.
Louise Bazalgette from NSPCC and Jake Garber from DfE’s Innovation Unit discuss and share findings from their research into the emotional wellbeing of children in care which highlighted some of the key challenges and issues, and looked at the opportunities for improving services to better meet their needs.
In this article, Iryna Pona offers an insight into the challenges facing young people who are in many cases no longer considered as ‘children’ under the law, but are not yet under the protection of adult services.
Eugenia Cronin, a consultant in public health and former director of public health, has been looking into what connects the world of children’s services with the public health agenda. In our recently launched Leaders' Briefing: Getting children's needs onto the public health agenda, she finds some things to be celebrated, some worrying trends, and some strong arguments supporting the need for children’s services and public health colleagues to do more together.
Nigel Stopard, from the Workforce Development (WD) team in Children’s Services at Devon County Council, talks about the social work academy they have established to provide a clear framework to support professional development. In this blog, he takes a look at the ethos behind this work, charts the creation of the academy, explores the thinking behind this model and identifies some of the challenges and experiences they have had along the way.
Following Dorset County Council's fostering service over the course of a year, BBC TWO’s documentary Protecting Our Foster Kids aimed to see the intimate day-to-day work foster carers and other professionals do in helping the lives of children in care. Here Sara Tough, Director for Children’s Services at Dorset, discusses the complexities of fostering and what they aimed to achieve from the series.
Ahead of Father’s Day 2015, Nicola McConnell, Senior Evaluation Officer at the NSPCC looks at how we are working with fathers, discusses how we can assess whether we are engaging with them effectively, and examines how we can improve the way we work with them.
Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme: What can we do that will really make a difference to our social workers and the families they help?
Sue Williams, Director of Family Safeguarding at Hertfordshire County Council, outlines their successful bid to redesign services for the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.
Brigid Featherstone, Professor in Social Work at the Open University, and speaker at our upcoming Leaders’ Forum: Changing the conversation – building community resilience and social capital, discusses community capacity to help strengthen social work impact, bringing together evidence and research from the UK child protection system and studies from the US.
Alison O’Sullivan, Director of Children’s Services at Kirklees Council, President of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, and speaker at our upcoming Leaders’ Forum: Changing the conversation – building community resilience and social capital, discusses harnessing community capacity to support children and families.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, an opportunity to openly discuss mental health, what it is, what it means and how we can support people who are experiencing poor mental health. In this article, Olivia Craig, Operations Manager for Plymouth & District Mind, a local mental health charity who have been supporting the community on their road to recovery for over 30 years, discusses what they think are the most important things to focus on to support young people’s mental health.
How can we support the rights of young adult carers? Chloe Alexander, Policy & Campaigns Officer (Young Carers & Young Adult Carers) at the Carers Trust, discusses the implementation of the Care Act and the Children and Families Act, and how we can support young adult carers’ transition to adulthood.
From responding to and sharing research queries submitted by our Partners; our Research Officer Ferdia Earle reflects on a common topic - the importance of children’s relationships, including how taking the reflections of a child and the quality of particular relationships can help to achieve resilience, permanence and stability in vulnerable children’s lives.
The NSPCC’s Impact and Evidence Hub is a new online space that provides information and resources geared toward undertaking robust evaluation in the real world. The Hub contains descriptions of the NSPCC’s evaluation models and tools and as it develops will provide a place where researchers and others can share experiences and provide mutual support and guidance. Here, Dan Tallis, Editor for the Impact and Evidence Hub within the Evaluation Department at NSPCC, discusses the purpose of the Hub and what it contains.
Caroline Bennett, author of our recent Strategic Briefing: Lifespan personalisation, writes about best practice in aligning children’s and adult services to personalise care for children and young people to develop and support their life plan for the future.
Merle Davies is the new Director for the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development (CECD). Here, she writes about the Blackpool Better Start programme, giving an overview of what they are aiming to achieve in Blackpool through a programme to transform services for pre-birth to three year olds and their families.
How can we make the right decisions to make sure that contact is a positive and beneficial experience for children and young people? Polly Baynes, independent social work and associate trainer for Research in Practice writes about the questions we need to be asking ourselves about contact.
Geoff Owen, Research Officer at Research in Practice, looks at the progress made so far and next steps in our innovative project to explore and gather the evidence to support the relative benefits of Team-based Learning approaches in comparison to traditional workshop training methods. This new approach to professional development could change the way that service provision teams learn and put that learning into action to improve practice in a more fundamental and sustainable way.
Alaine Shaw is Team Manager for Children and Families Workforce Development at Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. As the designated Link Officer for Research in Practice, she makes sure that their staff can get the most out of RiP learning resources and services. Alaine was named Link Officer of the year at our annual conference for Link Officers in 2014. Here, Alaine writes about the importance of learning and development, the role of a Link Officer and what inspired her to first become a social worker.
“I don’t just want to be asked how many CVs I`ve sent out. I want to be asked how I am. It’s depressing getting rejection after rejection.” (unemployed 22yr old from Blackpool). Mike Taplin from Blackpool Council talks about the work they have been doing with unemployed young people to listen to their needs and develop services to support them more effectively.
Rosie Smithson is a Senior Research Officer working for Birmingham City Council’s Strategic Research Team. Rosie conducts in-depth, predominantly qualitative research into residents’, service users’ and staff experiences of Council services. Recent projects have focused on adoption and child protection, and the impact of local government budget cuts on vulnerable groups. Here, Rosie writes about how to involve parents with child protection and make sure their voices are heard.
Effective team management is essential to effective practice, and with many children's services now being arranged into integrated teams, often supporting children from 0-19, there is a particular need to support frontline managers working in early intervention.
Alice Hunt is a qualified Probation Officer and Counsellor who specialises in working with young people who have harmful sexual behaviour. Here, she explores what constitutes harmful sexual behaviour in adolescents, as part of an ongoing programme of work by Research in Practice.
John Coleman is the author of our newly launched Frontline briefing: Understanding adolescence. The briefing outlines some of the key areas of development which apply to adolescence. In this article, he discusses how adult support and understanding of adolescent development is crucial at this stage of life.
Matt Britland is Director of ICT at The Lady Eleanor Holles School and Director of Realise Learning. He spoke at our ‘Social Media in Social Work’ conference in October about how it is possible to use social media in a professional and safe way by those working with children and young people. Here, he shares some tips on how to use social media and stay safe in practice.
Research in Practice has just published a briefing for leaders on Health and Safeguarding, Leaders’ Briefing: Enabling effective contribution of health partners to safeguarding.
Jane Halliday, Learning Resources Co-ordinator for Research in Practice shares her ideas about the ways in which our learning resources can contribute towards the Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC) requirements for continuing professional development.
National Policy Officer Claudia Martins looks at the troubled families programme and the new statistics released by the Adoption Leadership Board.
In October we launched our new Change Project on Reflective Supervision. Change Projects are designed to allow social work professionals and researchers to explore a topic in depth from both practical and academic perspectives. They are collaborative processes of learning and research, with the ultimate goal of co-producing resources that enable evidence-informed practice in the topic area. The effectiveness of these resources in practice is evaluated and final changes made before they are made available to the Research in Practice network and others.
Shilpa Beliappa, Childline Message Board Manager, presented in October at our ‘Social Media in Social Work’ conference about how social media can be used effectively and safely as an empowering tool to engage young people. Here, she writes about how to create virtual safeguarding spaces using social media.
Joanne Westwood, one of the speakers at our recent ‘Social Media in Social Work’ conference, writes about social media and ideas for integrating it into social work practice.
Martin Clarke is the Learning & Development Manager at TACT and a Link Officer for Research in Practice. TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) is a member of the Research in Practice network. It is the UK’s largest fostering and adoption charity and voluntary agency, working across England, Wales and Scotland to provide effective fostering and adoption services for children and young people in care.
Claudia Martins, Policy Officer for Research in Practice, writes the first in her (where possible) weekly column. In this column she will share news and initiatives released this week that will be of interest and relevance to Partners.
Anna Banbury, Development Manager for Child Sexual Exploitation and Minority Ethnic Children at the NSPCC, discusses the current work NSPCC is undertaking. They are looking to ensure their approach in the area of harmful practices meets the needs of young people, based on the reality on the ground. Anna discusses the background to this project.
In her latest blog for Research in Practice, Jessica Broome talks about the value and importance of evidence-informed practice, and examines both what it is, and what it looks like in an organisation.
Nic Crosby, Director, Children and Young People, In Control, writes about personalisation – why it is important, different ways the approach has been and can be used – in the context of a new workshop being offered by Research in Practice. The first workshop is taking place today – the next is taking place on 9 October, in London.
Research in Practice is holding an annual Councillors’ and Trustees’ Seminar on 13 November. The key issues and questions are discussed below.
Oliver Townsend, writes about the ever-diminishing gap between practitioners and researchers, and notes the positive steps forward in the sector over recent years.
Geoff Owen provides an update on the progress of the latest Change Project he is leading. As the project moves to an exciting new level, Geoff reflects on successes so far.
Kath Wilkinson continues her series of blogs on Evaluation, by investigating if and how social care ‘soft’ outcomes, such as an individual’s well-being, can be measured in economic terms.
Rebecca Godar, author of our most recent Strategic Briefing, Building a business case for services for children on the edge of care, takes the opportunity to discuss some of the key elements of the topic she noted when producing the briefing.
Fareena Shaheed, a Research in Practice Associate, discusses emotional abuse – and how practitioners need to be prepared to respond to it, given the increased attention and potential legislation around this issue.
Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, discusses the need for a coherent approach with children who have harmful sexual behaviour, on the Guardian Social Care Network.
Mary Baginsky, Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Kings College London, reflects on our Leaders’ Forum which took place earlier in June entitled: Re-imagining children's services.
Jessica Broome, Learning & Development Officer for RiP, writes about the concept of emotional resilience, as well as some ways to develop it in ourselves. With special acknowledgement to Jo Fox, who also helped contribute both to this blog and to our Practice Tool on the subject.
What do we mean by a ‘voice’ and why does it matter? Having a voice means that young people are able to speak up and contribute to conversations about decisions that may affect them. It means that they can express their views and share their experiences to inform the way a service should be designed or delivered. After all, young people are the experts in understanding young people (as much as we think we sometimes know best).
Gill Graham, Senior Learning and Development Advisor at Leicestershire County Council shares some collected thoughts from the seventh International Signs of Safety Gathering on 9 – 10 April earlier this year.
Last week, we held our annual Leaders’ Forum, Re-imagining children’s services. We have gathered together here some of the key comments and links to resources from the event's Twitter activity. [View the story "Research in Practice - Leaders' Forum 2014" on Storify]
[Video] Professor Simon Hackett on the latest RiP Research Review: Children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour
Whilst there is an increasing awareness of the challenges of working with young people with harmful sexual behaviour until now there has been a lack of research and attention to guidance for practitioners working in this complex field.
In his last blog, Geoff gave us an insight into our current Change Project on team-based learning and assessing parental capacity to change. This time he takes a closer look at the learning technology being used in the project.
Annie Hedges, Research Officer for Research in Practice, writes about attending the Sexually Harmful Behaviour in children and young people conference, and some of the messages and thoughts she had on the day.
I’m pleased to share our Annual Review for 2013/14. It gives a great overview of what Research in Practice has been working on over the past 12 months – it has been an exceptionally busy year for us. We have delivered learning events to over 1500 practitioners, published numerous new resources and played a part in many exciting national projects.
Kath Wilkinson, Research and Evaluation Officer at Research in Practice, blogs about evaluation – in particular, evaluating the impact of training. What do we mean by evaluation? Evaluation is one of those words that people use a lot but how many people actually know what it means? In reality, evaluation…
Jessica Broome, our Learning and Development Officer, writes about different ways of addressing local learning needs, and how differences in local authorities across the UK affect the options available.
Geoff Owen, Research Officer for Research in Practice, blogs about his work co-ordinating the latest Change Project, Developing Child Social Care Workers Skills in Assessing Parental Capacity to Change and Evaluating their Impact. This blog focuses on phase one of the project.
As we enter the holiday period, Dez Holmes, Director of Research in Practice, shares her thoughts on the past year. Colleagues and friends. At the beginning of 2013, we all anticipated another year of challenge and change. The year certainly has lived up to expectations, with ever increasing budget…
Under the new Ofsted single inspection framework, the capacity to commission and sustain the highest-quality early help services for all children and young people will be scrutinized closely by inspectors. Many local authorities and their area partners have decided to prioritise investment in early…
Research in Practice focuses on outcomes and improvement, supporting organisations, teams and individuals to ensure that decisions are being made with the right evidence. Our network of local authorities and national organisations is the engine that powers our efforts to embed evidence-informed practice...
Annie Hedges, our Research Officer, looks at the growing stream of activity on preventing Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), and offers some insights from our network in this area. Where relevant, we have linked to other reports and articles that you will find useful...
This week, Action for Children published their latest Impact Report. In a guest blog special, David Derbyshire (Director of Practice Improvement, Action for Children), shares his thoughts on the journey they have taken over the past eight years...
In this blog we share activities from two of our Partner organisation: Action for Children and the NSPCC. Find out about their work around Action on Neglect and Neglect in the Context of Serious Case Reviews, the NSPCC’s Neglect programme, and Neglect in the Context of Serious Case Reviews.
In February, research in practice attended a conference in Doncaster for designated teachers for looked after children. The event was an engaging opportunity for discussion and learning. One of the presentations focused on a case study of a looked-after child who was successfully reintegrated into full-time education, following time out of education...
The Family Justice Review (FJR), published in November 2011, highlighted the need for significant change across the whole family court system to ensure better outcomes for children involved in proceedings...
Last week, Dez Holmes our Director was invited to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Troubled Families, and in her own words, ‘came away feeling both energised and a little daunted by the scale of the task facing the sector.’ In this post Dez explores the main points from the day and reflects on the agenda more widely...
When the Munro Review of Child Protection was published in May 2011 the recommendations were widely welcomed across the children’s sector. The review provides a road map for whole system reform based on a welcome imperative to ‘redress the balance between prescription and the exercise of judgment so that those working in child protection are able to stay child-centred’...
In this blog post, Sarah Moore, our Learning & Development Manager, talks about our involvement with the TEMPUS Project – a project she found inspiring and hugely rewarding...
What does family justice reform mean for social work? While it raises major challenges in terms of the quality and timeliness of assessments and court reports, it’s an opportunity to step up the professional status of social workers in the family court.
Blogging, once seen as a medium used only by the very technically savvy or those with a niche interest, is now recognised as a powerful and accessible means of generating debate and sharing ideas. Many of us at research in practice have been looking forward to the day we could announce the creation of a blog...