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Read the latest news from the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care

CASCADE report on shared decision making published
12 July 2019

What is good practice in meetings between professionals and families?

Today What Works for Children’s Social Care published its latest report.  The rapid realist review, conducted by CASCADE, provides guidance on good practice in decision making meetings.  The research summarises the evidence on shared decision-making meetings and how to meaningfully involve families in order to keep children safely at home and out of care.

Lorna Stabler, who worked on the review, has written a blog for the Centre on Making meetings meaningful: Good practice when involving families in decision-making.

This review is the 4th in a series of scoping reviews, systematic reviews and specialist reports focusing on safely reducing the need for children to enter care, produced by CASCADE and published by What Works for Children’s Social Care. CASCADE also produces technical summaries on social care interventions for the Centre, which can be found in the What Works for Children’s Social Care Evidence Store.

Read the full Shared Decision-Making: What is good practice in delivering meetings? Involving families meaningfully in decision-making to keep children safely at home: A rapid realist review report.

Learn more about all What Works for Children’s Social Care reports.

New evidence outlines Intensive Family Preservation Services effectiveness in preventing children from entering care
10 June 2019

The review by CASCADE, on behalf of What Works for Children’s Social Care, launched today

What Works for Children’s Social Care (formerly the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care) today launches its latest report examining the evidence-base and effectiveness of Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS).

The report, ‘Intensive Family Preservation Services to prevent out of home placement of children’ is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 37 papers, completed by the CASCADE research team. In addition to these reports, What Works for Children’s Social Care has also updated the entry relating to IFPS on its Evidence Store.

Whilst the review findings show that IFPS are effective at preventing out-of-home placement of children, the report outlines that IFPS can vary in effectiveness.  Such evidence suggests that how IFPS are implemented is important but, if implemented correctly, IFPS could help reduce the rate of children entering care.

Prof Donald Forrester, Director of CASCADE, Cardiff University, said:

“It is exciting to see evidence for the difference that intensive social work with families can make brought together in this way. Most of this research is from the USA, so the next stage is to support local authorities to implement or improve IFPS services in the UK. We are carrying out research to learn about and share findings in relation to effective practice here, and hope to evaluate IFPS services in England in the near future.”

Further information on the findings can be found Intensive Family Preservation Services press release and the ‘Intensive Family Preservation Services: a promising way of keeping families together’ blog.

Read the full Intensive Family Preservation Services (IFPS) systematic review.

Local authority ‘Schwartz Rounds’ partners announced
5th April 2019

Image of four professionals holding up paper speech bubbles

Dr David Wilkins to lead the wellbeing intervention project

Today that the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has announced it will be working with six authorities to evaluate the effect of Schwartz Rounds on staff well-being.  Haringey Council, Liverpool City Council, Nottinghamshire County Council, Walsall Council, Warwickshire County Council and West Sussex County Council have been selected to pilot the intervention in a social care setting.

The intervention, which provides a regular, structured forum for staff to come together and discuss the emotional and social aspects of their work, will involve more than 3000 members of staff up until March 2020.

Read Dr David Wilkins’ Schwartz Rounds Blog on the exciting project.

CASCADE researchers publish blog for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
2nd April 2019

In recent months the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care have published their appraisal of the evidence on whether interventions for children whose parents have mental health problems help prevent children from experiencing problems themselves.

The appraisal is one of a number of summaries found in the Evidence Store, an online library providing reliable, easy access to which social care interventions are effective and why.

CASCADE researchers Zoe Bezeczky and Dr Cindy Corliss, who worked on Child mental illness prevention summary have written a blog on the summary findings for the What Works website.

To read our own CASCADE blogs, visit the blog page on our website.

What Works Centre publishes first CASCADE led research protocols
15 March 2019

Yesterday, the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care published its first research protocols, outlining the plans for all projects before work begins.

The CASCADE led projects include Schwartz Rounds, which tests the use of a structured forum for discussing the emotional and social aspects of children’s social work to improve workforce well-being.  A number of protocols have also been released for our Change Projects, where we are working with local authorities of two project strands;

  • Placing social workers in schools to reduce the need for statutory social work intervention
  • Giving social workers the freedom to use budgets in creative ways to help children safely remain at home

You can download each of the project protocols on the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care research projects page.

The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care launches its Evidence Store
30 January 2019

Today the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has launched its new evidence library, containing social care intervention ratings which evaluate overall effectiveness and strength of evidence.  Evaluated by CASCADE researchers, the Evidence Store launches with 11 evidence reviews and with more to come.  The library provides a reliable, easy access to which social care interventions are effective and why.

To view the Evidence Store,  visit the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website.

The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care seeks partners for ‘Schwartz Rounds’ pilot project
28 January 2019

Schwartz Rounds are a unique forum in which people delivering healthcare can come together and reflect on their experiences. They have a simple aim: to support staff well-being, build empathy and compassion across organisations, and improve the quality of care.

Evidence shows that healthcare staff who attend regularly feel less stressed and less isolated and our researchers want to know whether similar results might be found in children’s social care. We want to see if Schwartz Rounds can help social workers feel more supported in their jobs, allowing time and space to think and reflect.

If you are interested in taking part in this study, please visit the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website where you will find further information and the application form.

Application submission: No later than midday on 18 February 2019.

CASCADE to work with local authorities to reduce need for children to enter care
25 January 2019

The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has named the six local authorities it will work with on projects aiming to reduce the need for children to enter care.

The pilot projects will be managed by CASCADE. We will work with each local authority on setting up the projects and the rigorous evaluations processes, with hope that the pilots will lead to large-scale evaluations from 2020.

The two project areas, which have a total budget of £2.4 million, will focus on empowering social workers in decision making, providing earlier help to children and making better use of available sources.

The first, which will be undertaken by Darlington Borough Council, Hillingdon Borough Council and Wigan Council will be to empower social workers to take decisions – over budgets – to prevent the need for children to enter care. Lambeth Borough Council, Southampton City Council and Stockport Borough Council will undertake a project to locate social workers in schools to work with children and families. The selected partners will begin work with us upon the signing of sub-contracts, which have been issued to each local authority this month.

Speaking about the partnerships, Michael Sanders, new Executive Director of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care said: “I’m really looking forward to working with our new partners and am very excited by these change projects. They represent a huge opportunity to make a real impact for both social workers and for the children and young people they work so hard to serve, as well as to advance the evidence base.

“The pilot evaluations, led by CASCADE, will allow us to move towards identifying how to best design programmes like these to maximise the likelihood of success in improving outcomes for young people and their families, as well as to understand their feasibility for larger scale delivery in the future.”

Professor Donald Forrester, Director of CASCADE, said: “The number and quality of applications we received was far higher than we anticipated – which indicates the energy there is in the sector to explore new ways of delivering services. We selected projects to allow for comparison of different ways of empowering social workers and families across the two areas. All projects will be evaluated by CASCADE for the What Works Centre and we will report initial findings to the sector in 2020. We know that is a short time period and the plan is for promising approaches to be rolled out and evaluated robustly.”

For further information on the Change Projects, please view the full press release.

For the latest news on both the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care and CASCADE, you can follow us on Twitter:

@whatworksCSC

@CASCADEresearch

The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has today published its first publications – on the theme of safely reducing the number of children in the care system
14 November 2018

The research, carried out by CASCADE, includes a number of reports:

The first, a scoping review, identifies the research evidence about what works in our priority thematic area –  safely reducing the number of children and young people in care.   Read the full scoping review report.

Our Exploratory analyses of the rates of children looked after in English local authorities (2012-2017) suggests that economic factors and service quality are both relevant to reducing the number of children in care and both should be considered in studies taken forward by the What Works Centre.

The second review being published is a mixed methods systematic review of the effectiveness of Signs of Safety in reducing the need for children to be in care. Access the full Signs of Safety report, practice and implementation guides.

The Centre’s new publications also includes summaries of our telephone interviews and surveys with local authorities.

Visit the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website for the latest information and news.

New Executive Director of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
2 November 2018

Michael Sanders has been appointed as the new Executive Director of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.  Michael will lead the Centre through its start-up phase to 2020 and beyond.

You can read more about Michael and his thoughts on his new role on the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website.

Listen to the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care Change Programme Webinar
16 October 2018

On Monday 15th October, a webinar was held for the Centre’s Change Programme Initiative.  The webinar was presented by Professor Donald Forrester, Director of CASCADE, with the assistance of Ewan King, director of business development and delivery, the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).  The webinar was attended by over 100 local authorities and children’s services trusts.

If you were not able to attend the webinar you can view it on the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care website.

View the Change Programme webinar

What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care calls for new partners to deliver Change Projects
27 September 2018

The new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is inviting local authorities and children’s services trusts to be partners in a new programme which aims to support and evaluate transformative change programmes in children’s social care.
The programme will focus on moving services closer to children and families, and funding is available for local authorities and children’s services trusts to work with the Centre to test two initial projects. One project will explore social workers being based in schools, and the other will look at empowering social workers to reduce the need for care by devolving budgets to social workers to directly support families.
This focus on supporting children and families in a different and more direct way emerged from a comprehensive process of engaging with the social care sector and reviewing existing evidence.
Applicants are being sought from local authorities or children’s services trusts – either bidding on their own or in collaboration with third sector organisations.

Sir Alan Wood, Chair What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care said:
“A key challenge for the WWC is to provide practitioners and service leaders with relevant, tangible and timely evidence from research, evaluation and testing. We need to get evidence of what is working promoted widely so that effective practice in improving outcomes for children can become more widespread. To achieve this we are keen to test and evaluate in partnership with practice leaders new approaches developed from their day-to-day work. Our Change Programme aims to move services and decision-making closer to families. We are calling for Partners to test two ways of doing this: one will focus on social workers based in schools, while the other will devolve decision-making about how to help families to social workers themselves. Both projects aim to support what is best about great social work by encouraging partnership with families, creativity and passion.”

Donald Forrester, Research Director for the What Works Centre and Professor at Cardiff University said:
“One of the exciting things about the What Works Centre is that it is about creating change and trying out new things. The Change Programme is at the heart of this – with a focus on getting services for children and families closer to where they are needed. We hope that by doing so we will tap into the enthusiasm, commitment and creativity that are at the heart of great services – and then be able to share what we learn across the sector.”

The deadline for applications is midday 31st October 2018 and the Centre will be hosting a webinar for potential applicants on Monday 15th October. Applicants can register for the webinar by emailing wwccsc@nesta.org.uk.

To access further information and the application form, please visit the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care Change Project page.

21 Local Partners to Work with the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
25 July 2018

The new What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care has yesterday announced the names of 21 local authorities and trusts that it will work with to co-develop research, and co-design and test products and services to support the use of evidence.

Following a high level of response to its call for ‘wave 1’ partners, the Centre has selected 21 local authorities and children’s trusts whom it will work with – initially to December 2018.

These initial partners will work with the Centre to:
• co-design and test tools and services that the Centre may deliver to implement evidence
• generate new evidence by identifying promising interventions for more detailed evaluation
• provide advice and support to other partners.

The initial partners have welcomed the opportunity to work with the Centre.  You can read what they have to say about working with the Centre on the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care Website.

Birmingham’s Children’s Trust have vlogged about their partnership with the Centre.  You can view the Vlog by Alastair Gibbons, Director of Operations here.

Walsall Council have called the ‘wave 1’ partnership “A timely and exciting opportunity”.  Read their full blog here.

The Research

The partners will work on the following research themes in order to generate evidence proposals:

The front door
Partners will explore how the ‘front door’ is currently managed and generate ideas for how it might be managed differently and more effectively to better meet the needs of children and families in a timely way.   They will focus on workforce well-being and explore what support makes the most difference for social workers and other social care staff as well as what changes might be made to improve recruitment, retention and well-being and how more effective support systems for workers make a difference to children and families.

Safely reducing the need for children to enter care
Partners will explore how current approaches are working to safely reduce the need for children to enter care and what further interventions might make a difference, including edge-of-care support but also thinking more widely about the system as a whole and the place and potential of different approaches to family support.

Effective supervision and decision-making
Partners will explore what makes for good supervision and what difference it makes for children and families, including how best to support informed decision-making and how different approaches to supervision support (or inhibit) different approaches in practice.

A call for a second wave of partners will be announced later in the year.

For the full press release, including statements from the Centre’s newly announced partners, please visit the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care Website

Sir Alan Wood announced as Centre’s Founding Chair + new report on stakeholders’ views published.
5 July 2018

To read more visit the website of the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.