Frequently asked questions – Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme

14 June 2019

Frequently asked questions – Tackling Child Exploitation Support Programme

A consortium, led by Research in Practice, together with The Children’s Society and University of Bedfordshire, has been appointed to develop and deliver a new programme to tackle child exploitation.

The Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme is a significant investment by the Department for Education and aims to support local areas to develop an effective strategic response to child exploitation and threats from outside the family home, including child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation, such as county lines drug trafficking.

The consortium have brought together some of the frequently asked questions about the TCE. This includes general information and answers to detailed questions for those wanting to engage with the programme. These will be updated as the programme progresses. If you would like to suggest a question, email


Who is the TCE Support Programme for?

The TCE Support Programme is for local area partnerships with safeguarding responsibilities. It is designed to provide some extra support so that local areas can review and develop their strategic approach to safeguarding children and young people experiencing extra-familial harm and exploitation, these terms are explained below.

What types of harm are you focusing on?

The TCE Support Programme will focus on extra-familial harm and exploitation. This includes forms of child abuse that tend to occur outside the family context, such as sexual exploitation and criminal exploitation, including association with gangs, ‘county lines’ and modern slavery.

We understand that there are different definitions of what people mean when they talk about child exploitation, threat, risk and harm, and there is no common definitions agreed across individuals and organisations. As part of the work of this programme, we will contribute to the conversation about language, and set out some ways of describing how extra-familial harm and exploitation manifest. For the moment, we will use a general term: ‘extra-familial harm and exploitation’.

The TCE Support Programme will identify emerging trends in extra-familial child exploitation and harm as they arise and keep Department for Education and local areas informed about new threats and influences that may affect children and young people’s safety.

The TCE Support Programme will work with local partnerships with safeguarding responsibilities for children and young people aged 0-18, but we recognise the importance of the transition to adulthood, especially for looked after young people, and will endeavour to support local areas in their strategic planning for young adults who are vulnerable to, or experiencing extra-familial harm and exploitation.

Why focus on extra-familial? What about children and young people harmed by family members?

The children’s safeguarding system was largely designed with intra-familial harm in mind, and most of the systems and processes in place reflect this. Social work services tend to focus on working with the child or young person and their family; threats facing children and young people outside the home, can be more difficult to identify and respond to. 

This programme is designed to give local partnerships additional support to address this challenge. This will complement, and not replace, the important work being done with families and parents where children are at risk of harm within their family context. 

Some children and young people are affected by harm in the family and also outside it, and this programme will support local areas to reflect this in their strategic planning. 

What will the TCE Support Programme actually do?

The TCE Support Programme will help local areas in two main ways:

  • Providing an online open-access resource containing evidence-informed materials, such as knowledge briefings and tools, to support local areas to develop their strategic response to extra-familial harm and child exploitation.
  • Developing and delivering a bespoke support programme, which entails providing time-limited projects in local areas.

Specifically, the bespoke support programme will involve:

  • A quarterly application process, with local areas (that is, the local authority and multiagency safeguarding partners) able to request support based on their needs and priorities.
  • Time-limited bespoke support projects, aimed at helping local areas to develop an effective strategic response to child exploitation and extra-familial harm.
  • A small team of delivery partners working with the local area, with each project underpinned by a specification that will be co-designed with the local area.
  • A simple baseline and follow up measure being undertaken with the local area to explore the impact of the bespoke support project.

We will also publish an annual thematic report highlighting learning from local areas and intend to host a national learning event in 2022 where local areas will be able to share effective strategic planning and practice relating to child exploitation.

The TCE Support Programme will not focus on providing one-off training events or conferences as part of the core offer, nor will it provide direct support to individual children and young people.

Who is involved in this partnership, and what expertise do they bring?

The partners in our consortium have a strong track record in supporting local areas to develop and improve practice and strategy in this field and have individually and collectively driven the national response to adolescent harm.

Research in Practice, the lead contractor, directly supports over 120 local authorities to apply evidence in their work with children and families and has supported a number of innovations across the sector in relation to safeguarding adolescents.

The Children’s Society deliver highly-regarded services for this group of young people and are spearheading systems change through the Disrupting Exploitation Programme.

The University of Bedfordshire regularly produce cutting edge research relating to harm and abuse, with a particular focus on extra-familial threats, and have pioneered the development and testing of contextual safeguarding.

The programme management team is made up of representatives from the consortium: Dez Holmes, Research in Practice; Nerys Anthony, The Children’s Society; and Helen Beckett, University of Bedfordshire, and they provide the strategic leadership for the TCE Support Programme. They will be supported by an operational management team, employed across the partner organisations, who will be collectively responsible for the operational delivery of the programme, with additional support from each organisation to enable effective programme delivery.

The partnership is supported in this work by a group of ‘delivery partners’ – comprising colleagues from local authorities, voluntary sector organisations, academia and other agencies. These colleagues bring a wealth of expertise in enacting change and improvement at a local and national level, and have direct experience of enabling an effective response to extra-familial harm and exploitation.

How are you involving others (including young people) in your work?

We are keen to draw on expertise across the sector and amongst people with lived experience to develop our approach. To enable this, we are undertaking a scoping phase in year one in which we will:

  • Issue a survey to colleagues across the sector exploring learning needs and strategic priorities.
  • Undertake engagement work with young people through our existing networks, to test ideas and help identify priority areas of focus.
  • Review the available research literature to ensure our work is grounded in evidence.
  • Review other relevant information, including inspection reports and serious case reviews, to ensure that our work reflects learning from the sector.
  • Consult with key stakeholder groups, including the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), and other initiatives in this field to determine the sector’s priorities.

How does your offer fit with what others are doing?

By focusing on strategic level responses, we do not intend to duplicate the work of others supporting direct practice. However, this is an area of work with lots of initiatives, projects and innovations and a variety of policy interests at play. We are keen to ensure we add value to existing work, and so we are:

  • Consulting with the sector, and with young people, to identify their priorities in developing an effective strategic response to child exploitation.
  • Designing the online learning resources and bespoke support projects to meet the identified local area priorities.
  • Working closely with Department for Education and cross-governmental colleagues to share learning and to ensure the TCE Support Programme adds value to other activity.
  • Drawing on the support of a virtual advisory network, comprised of existing steering groups and committees working in this field, to ensure we are alert to other relevant activity.

How long is the TCE Support programme funded for?

The Department for Education has provided £1.9m to fund this programme from April 2019 to March 2022. Each consortium partner is contributing financial or in-kind resources to supplement the investment by Department for Education.

We will explore the option of co-funding support with the sector, for example, if a local area wants more support than can be delivered within the scope of the programme.

What is the geographical remit of the programme?

The TCE Support Programme covers all of England, with every local area able to access learning materials. Local areas and regions / sub-regions will be able to apply for bespoke support, designed to address specific issues and co-produced with the local area.

How can we contact you?

Please email and we will ensure your query reaches the right member of the team.

Where is the TCE Support Programme based?

We do not have a physical ‘centre’ as we work across organisations and geographies. Research in Practice, as the lead contractor, hosts the administrative team.

How do I get involved?

You can help us to understand learning needs by responding to the sector survey that will be issued by the end of June 2019.

You can share any examples of promising / effective practice related to multi-agency strategic planning regarding child exploitation, by responding to our ‘call for practice’ that will be issued in July 2019. We will consider evidence of impact before sharing, to ensure we can be clear about what constitutes ‘promising’ or ‘effective’.

You can provide feedback on the open-access resources we produce, and submit any tools and materials of your own for the wider sector to benefit from (providing you have the right to share these). Submitted materials will be evaluated using our quality matrix before being uploaded onto the microsite. The microsite, essentially a small-scale website, will be developed during year one and added to over the course of the programme.

You can, if you are a senior leader acting on behalf of your local area partnership, apply for bespoke support when the application process opens in October 2019.

To make sure you receive details of all of these, please email asking to be included in the mailing list.

Detailed questions for those wanting to engage with the TCE Support Programme

Can you help practitioners with a case?

The TCE Support Programme is specifically intended to help local areas develop and deliver an effective strategic response to extra-familial threats and exploitation. We will be providing learning materials and bespoke support focused at this level and will not be focusing directly on individual children and young people. However, effective strategic planning directly affects practice, and we expect that local areas will work alongside practitioners in all professions to develop effective plans and responses to child exploitation. There are many organisations already providing valuable support for direct practice, and we will signpost to them. 

What kinds of support will be offered?

We will be guided by the findings from the scoping phase, and by individual requests; here are some examples of the type of support we hope to offer local areas:

  • Facilitating action learning sets with key senior personnel to help them to establish learning partnerships.
  • Helping local areas to undertake small scale action research projects.
  • Undertaking reviews of strategies and plans.
  • Facilitating theory of change or ‘logic model’ workshops to help local areas design their strategic approach and /or understand the impact of these approaches.
  • Helping local areas to collate and analyse data in relation to extra-familial harm and exploitation.

When and how can local areas apply for a bespoke support project?

The application process for local areas will go live in October 2019. We will publish the process, and provide a clear template for local areas to complete.

How will you decide who will receive bespoke support?

We will take into account a number of factors when selecting local areas, including their capacity to make best use of the support provided, and our ability to meet their needs. We will try to ensure a geographical spread over the course of the three-year programme, and will endeavour to reach areas who may not have benefitted from additional funding and initiatives in this field. The themes for bespoke support projects will be informed by the evidence we collect in the scoping survey of the priorities and gaps identified by the sector. Some of the bespoke support projects will be undertaken in a single local authority area, while others may be undertaken across a whole region or sub-region. This will depend on the number and location of local areas identifying similar issues. 

How long will support be provided for and what commitment is needed from us to access support?

The bespoke support programme is designed to provide short-term intensive support to local areas. Bespoke support projects come in two sizes – small (up to seven days of support) and large (up to 14 days of support).

Some support will be desk-based and some will be ‘on-site’. We understand the challenges of gathering key people together over extended periods of time; we will agree the dates with you to make it as easy as possible for the right people to take part. 

Who will come in and provide support? 

Bespoke support projects will be delivered by a small team, consisting of:

  • Single point of contact from the TCE Support Programme team.
  • An Implementation Lead.
  • A combination of delivery partners matched according to their expertise.

You will know in advance who the team leader is, who the members of the team are going to be, and the dates they will be in your local area so that you can plan for the right people to meet with them.

Will you share the findings from bespoke support projects?

We will work with local areas to identify key learning to share with others via project reports; annual thematic reviews; the national learning event (in 2022) and via the online open-access resources.  

We will not share sensitive or confidential information, and will ensure local areas are involved in deciding what learning is shared and how.

How do you quality assure/support delivery partners?

Delivery partners have been identified because of their experience of working in this field. To support delivery partners in their role, we will:

  • Provide them with training and development on a range of key topics and methods, such as action learning set facilitation.
  • Ensure a member of the core team is part of any project.
  • Convene Community of Practice days several times a year so that delivery Partners can learn from each other.
  • Provide a range of learning materials and tools for delivery partners to use and share with local areas.
  • Develop specifications and ‘method statements’ for each project to support consistency across projects.
  • Undertake a baseline and progress / impact review for each project.
  • Gather and use feedback from local areas to enable continuous improvement.

How much will it cost for my local area to work with the programme on a bespoke support project?

The bespoke support is delivered free of charge. As noted above, this support will be provided as time-limited projects – intended to accelerate and add value to existing work. Any support required beyond this can potentially be co-funded by local areas by negotiation.

The only cost to local areas is the time required to apply for support and of key personnel to take part in the project.

What will you do if you have multiple applications for support from the same geographical area, or about the same issue?

We will try to pair local areas up, or group requests thematically in an effort to reach as many local areas as possible within the funding parameters.

These FAQs will be updated as the TCE Support Programme progresses. If you have a question that you would like to see addressed in this document, please email it to

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