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Practice tools and guides

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Guidance, ideas and tools for developing evidence-informed practice.

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Analysis and critical thinking in assessment: Resource Pack (2013/2014)

Published: Jul 2014

Analysis and critical thinking in assessment: Resource Pack (2013/2014)

Analysis and critical thinking are central to good practice in children’s services, whether assessing if a child has additional needs or proceeding with a complex child protection inquiry.

The handbook includes key research and practice messages around analysis and critical thinking in assessment. It combines research evidence with the practice experience of agencies to explore how identified barriers to good assessment might be overcome. The focus is on ‘thinking in practice’ and, above all, on supporting practitioners to be more analytical in their assessments.

The accompanying exercises, case studies and tools are designed to support learning and practice.

These resources are the outputs of a Research in Practice Change Project.

Aimed at: Practitioners and managers.

Appreciative Inquiry in child protection - identifying and promoting good practice and creating a learning culture: Practice Tool (2014)

Published: Nov 2014

Appreciative Inquiry in child protection - identifying and promoting good practice and creating a learning culture: Practice Tool (2014)

This Practice Tool provides a starting point for practitioners, managers, supervisors and LSCBs in understanding Appreciative Inquiry and its potential as a tool in service evaluation and promoting and implementing service improvement. The purpose of this toolkit is to explain what Appreciative Inquiry is and to support practitioners and managers to use it as a method for evidence-gathering, analysis and action planning.

Number of pages: 12
Preview available.
Product code: CH-PTL-003

Assessing and supporting family and friends care: Practice Tool (2015)

Published: Dec 2015

Assessing and supporting family and friends care: Practice Tool (2015)

Since the Children Act 1989 there has been increasing emphasis in UK law and policy on placing children requiring substitute care with family and friends, and the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 states this should be the first option. The aim of this Practice Tool is to assist practitioners in the processes of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of prospective placements with family and friends (kinship care) and identifying the assistance families might need to provide a safe and effective long-term home for a child.

Aimed at: Practitioners and managers in children’s social care and wider children’s services.

Number of pages: 16
Preview available.
Product code: CH-PTL-004

Assessing and supporting family and friends care: Practice Tool (2020)

Published: Feb 2020

Assessing and supporting family and friends care: Practice Tool (2020)

The aim of this resource is to assist practitioners when assessing the strengths and weaknesses of prospective placements with family and friends (sometimes known as kinship care) and when identifying what assistance families might need to provide a safe and effective long-term home for a child.

Practitioners might use the resource in the context of, for instance, decisions about prospective placements with relatives and friends under an Interim Care Order or Care Order, or Special Guardianship Order (SGO) or in relation to voluntary accommodation under Section 20.

Designed for: Child and family social workers and their managers.

Number of pages: 20

Preview available

Product code: CH-PTL-010

Assessing risk of further child maltreatment - a research-based approach: Practice Tool (2013)

Published: Jun 2013

Assessing risk of further child maltreatment - a research-based approach: Practice Tool (2013)

This tool supports practitioners to take a research-based approach to assessing the risk of further child maltreatment.

It covers a 'structured professional judgement' approach which combines the use of research-based tools with professional judgement to produce assessments that are informed by research and reflect the unique implications for each child of the risks and strengths within their family and wider environment.

Total number of pages: 8
Product code: CH-TOL-001

Child sexual exploitation: Practice Tool (2017) (open access)

Published: Feb 2017

Child sexual exploitation: Practice Tool (2017) (open access)

This is an open access resource.
This work was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) and is the original text from which the summary document ‘Tackling child sexual exploitation: Advice for Professionals’ has been drawn.
The document outlines the new civil definition of child sexual exploitation, developed by the Home Office and DfE, together with an overview of our current understanding of the issue and an evidence-informed set of principles for responding. This extended version of the ‘advice’ provides professionals with further background information about child sexual exploitation and offers additional commentary around some of the complexities of practically responding to the issue.

Aimed at: social workers and other children’s services professionals, the police, adult services professionals, teachers and other school staff, GPs, nurses (including school nurses), Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services practitioners, midwives, health visitors, early years professionals, youth workers, youth justice professionals, A&E staff, paediatricians, and voluntary and community workers.

Number of pages: 75

This PDF download is an open access resource.

Children and young people missing from care and vulnerable to sexual exploitation (Self-reflection tools)

Published: Jun 2013

Children and young people missing from care and vulnerable to sexual exploitation (Self-reflection tools)

These self-reflection tools have been developed to accompany the briefing Children and young people missing from care and vulnerable to sexual exploitation. The tools support Local Safeguarding Children Boards and professionals commissioning, designing services and working directly with children and young people to reflect on their current practice and plan future changes.

Number of pages: 30

Contact after adoption: Learning Resources (open access)

Published: Mar 2017

Contact after adoption: Learning Resources (open access)

The type and frequency of contact a child has with their birth family needs careful consideration and planning, and should be determined by the needs and best interests of the child, both in the long and short term.

This open access website provides resources for practitioners in making evidence-informed post-adoption contact plans and supporting birth relatives and adopters through contact and planning for their child.

The resources cover:


Each section contains:

  • Research briefings and practical tools for training and working with families.
  • Exercises and case studies to consolidate learning.
  • Video and audio testimonies from children, birth and adoptive families on contact and support.


‘Contact: making good decisions for children in public law’, was a joint project between Research in Practice and the University of East Anglia which brought together practitioners from local authorities and national organisations to work with Professor Elsbeth Neil and independent social worker Polly Baynes to develop these resources.

Aimed at: Those involved in making, reviewing and supporting plans for post-adoption contact.

These learning resources are open access.

Go to the contact after adoption website.

Court orders and pre-proceedings: Learning Resources (open access)

Published: Aug 2014

Court orders and pre-proceedings: Learning Resources (open access)

Research in Practice has developed open access learning resources focusing on the reforms to UK family justice and the Family Court.

The open access resources are available on a dedicated website, and focus on the work social workers do with families, legal teams and in the Family Court. They are intended to support professionals to understand and implement changes in practice required to meet the statutory requirements under the Court Orders and Pre-Proceedings Guidance 2014.

Materials are structured around a child’s journey, from initial identification of safeguarding concerns, through pre-proceedings work, to the process of making an application to court.

Resources include:

  • Summaries of the statutory requirements, highlighting key issues for practice.
  • Videos in which social workers, young people, legal representatives, members or the judiciary, and policy leaders outline the context and content of the guidance.
  • Links to key resources from practice and research.
  • Tools for testing knowledge.


Aimed at: Social workers, Independent Reviewing Officers, local authority legal teams, key local authority partners.

These learning resources are open access.

Go to the court orders and pre-proceedings website.

Evidence Matters in Family Justice: Resource Pack (2012)

Published: Oct 2012

Evidence Matters in Family Justice: Resource Pack (2012)

This resource pack includes a range of briefings, tools and practical exercises to help managers and social workers prepare and present evidence in court.

It covers the policy landscape of family justice, how to use research in court effectively and strengthen assessments for court. There are links to online films on preparing for cross-examination.

Number of pages: 168
Preview available.

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