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Evidence scopes

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Applying research to social care practice: RiPfA RPU 137 August 2018 (open access)

Published: Jul 2018

Applying research to social care practice: RiPfA RPU 137 August 2018 (open access)

Research in Practice (RiP) and Research in Practice for Adults (RiPfA) have been in the business of evidence-informed practice for 22 and 13 years respectively. During that time, we’ve worked to bring together research messages with practice wisdom, making sure they are combined with the voices of people who use services: developing a culture that is informed by evidence and grounded in professional judgement.

We’ve learned that getting the messages from academic study directly into social care work is a multi-faceted operation. It is not easy, and it is certainly not linear. It depends, in varying proportions, on interactions between an individual practitioner, their team, researchers, the organisational context, academic culture, and the wider environment.

This month’s Research and Policy Update explores some of the latest thinking on how to navigate this effectively and examines the role of link officers in social care organisations.

This resource is open access and free to download.

Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: Evidence Scope (2017)

Published: Oct 2017

Working Effectively to Address Child Sexual Exploitation: Evidence Scope (2017)

Protecting children and young people from sexual exploitation is a challenging area of practice across all sectors, including health, education, the police and third sector organisations, as well as social care and social work.

This Evidence Scope aims to support local areas in the continual development of child sexual exploitation (CSE) services by reviewing and critically appraising relevant evidence. It brings together evidence that supports interventions and multi-agency and inter-professional approaches to working to improve outcomes for young people who may be affected by CSE.

The resource, produced by Research in Practice, was commissioned by Wigan and Rochdale councils as part of the Greater Manchester project on CSE, funded by the Department for Education Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.

Please note. This resource was first published in September 2015 by Jan Webb and Dez Holmes. The Evidence Scope has been revised and republished in October 2017 by Jessica Eaton and Dez Holmes to reflect new evidence and practice wisdom.

Aimed at: All social care practitioners.

Number of pages: 100

This PDF download is an open access resource.

Workforce perspectives on harmful sexual behaviour: Research Report (open access)

Published: Jul 2017

Workforce perspectives on harmful sexual behaviour: Research Report (open access)

This open access report, published in partnership with the National Children’s Bureau, outlines findings from a national survey of over 500 professionals combined with local research. This is the seventh research project undertaken by the Local Authorities Research Consortium (LARC).

The report examines the current knowledge, skills and confidence of the children’s workforce in relation to working with children and young people who are displaying Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB). It highlights some of the challenges, what works well to develop capabilities, and what further support may be needed.

Aimed at: Managers across the multi-agency partnership, in particular those with a role in workforce development.

This PDF download is an open access resource.

The impacts of abuse and neglect on children; and comparison of different placement options: Evidence Review (open access)

Published: Mar 2017

The impacts of abuse and neglect on children; and comparison of different placement options: Evidence Review (open access)

Commissioned by the Department for Education and developed by Research in Practice, this open access paper reviews research on the impacts of abuse and neglect and the strengths and weaknesses of care placement options. It is intended to support local authority and judicial decision-makers to develop a shared understanding of research and make decisions that lead to stable and positive placements for children and young people.

Aimed at: All those involved in family court work, care planning and placement decisions.

Number of pages: 113

This PDF download is an open access resource.
Child neglect and its relationship to sexual harm and abuse: responding effectively to children's needs (Updated)

Published: Nov 2016

Child neglect and its relationship to sexual harm and abuse: responding effectively to children's needs (Updated)

This series of open access evidence scopes considers the potential relationship between neglect and forms of sexual harm and abuse: child sexual exploitation; intra-familial child sexual abuse; and harmful sexual behaviours. These different types of harm rarely exist in isolation; children need support at earlier stages - and more holistically - if we are to address their vulnerabilities and help them to achieve positive outcomes. The scopes, commissioned by Action for Children and the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) with Research in Practice, examine relatively new and emerging evidence bases to outline the characteristics and prevalence of these different forms of sexual harm and identify how they may relate to neglect. They offer conceptual models for understanding how neglect can interact with and increase vulnerability to various forms of sexual harm and abuse, as well as considering gaps in the existing knowledge base.

Each resource draws out the key messages, themes and implications for practice and policy. Rather than offering simplistic messages or assuming causality, they encourage sector leaders and practitioners to critically reflect on the evidence, to explore how this relates to their own experience and to engage with the complexity of these topics.

Aimed at: Practitioners, managers, local service leaders and commissioners, local and national policy makers.

Number of pages: 137
Preview available.

The three Evidence Scopes, Executive Summary, Appendices and References are available now to download below.


These PDF downloads are open access resources.
Regarding the use of practice observation methods as part of the assessment of social work practice: Evidence Scope (2015)

Published: Nov 2015

Regarding the use of practice observation methods as part of the assessment of social work practice: Evidence Scope (2015)

This evidence scope, a collaborative effort by Sussex University and Research in Practice, was undertaken to support the thinking of colleagues within Department for Education, KPMG and their consortium partners in developing an accreditation framework for children’s social work.

It is not a systematic review. It is a rapid scope of the research relating to practice observation methods, in social work and also in other relevant professions. A 10-page Executive Summary is also available.

Aimed at: social care practitioners, managers, educators.

Number of pages: 77

This PDF download is an open access resource.
Executive summary: Regarding the use of practice observation methods as part of the assessment of social work practice:  Evidence Scope (2015)

Published: Nov 2015

Executive summary: Regarding the use of practice observation methods as part of the assessment of social work practice: Evidence Scope (2015)

This is the executive summary of the full evidence scope: a collaborative effort by Sussex University and Research in Practice, was undertaken to support the thinking of colleagues within Department for Education, KPMG and their consortium partners in developing an accreditation framework for children’s social work.

It is not a systematic review. It is a rapid scope of the research relating to practice observation methods, in social work and also in other relevant professions.

Aimed at: social care practitioners, managers, educators.

Number of pages: 10

This PDF download is an open access resource.
Structure and culture in children’s social care – Identifying options for changing the model of social work: Evidence Scope (2015)

Published: Sep 2015

Structure and culture in children’s social care – Identifying options for changing the model of social work: Evidence Scope (2015)

A nationwide factor affecting organisations’ ability to improve practice is recruitment and retention of experienced social workers, especially in the field of child protection and family support for children in need. A recent Research in Practice briefing identified “push” factors that can lead to social workers leaving their employer.

This evidence scope sets out evidence for organisational changes to counteract some of these "push" factors, and to help social workers to focus on core elements of working with families: critical analysis in assessment; building relationship-based practice with children and families.

The requirement to have these skills is now embodied within the Knowledge and Skills Statement for child and family social work. Local authorities will need to shape their organisations to allow social workers to develop and make use of these skills.

Aimed at: Senior Social Work Managers, Decision-makers

Number of pages: 23
Impact of the Family Justice Reforms Phase 3: Exploring variation across 21 local authorities (2016)

Published: May 2015

Impact of the Family Justice Reforms Phase 3: Exploring variation across 21 local authorities (2016)

This study builds on two previous research projects that explored the impact of the family justice reforms on frontline practice. The report draws on the views of professionals in 21 local authorities across 15 Local Family Justice Boards. It provides evidence on factors which may contribute to variation in the average care case duration of individual local authorities.

Aimed at: All social care practitioners.

Number of pages: 95

This PDF download is an open access resource.

Impact of the Family Justice Reforms on Front-Line Practice Phase Two: Special Guardianship Orders (2015)

Published: May 2015

Impact of the Family Justice Reforms on Front-Line Practice Phase Two: Special Guardianship Orders (2015)

In recent years there has been an increased use of Special Guardianship Orders (SGOs), with SGOs being used in a wider range of circumstances than was originally intended. This report draws on interviews with professionals in six local authorities. It focuses on changes in local authority and Cafcass professionals' perspectives of how SGOs are being used since the family justice reforms and recent court judgements compared to previously.

Aimed at: All social care practitioners.

Number of pages: 32

This PDF download is an open access resource.
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