The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care: Development Team
The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is a new project to foster evidence-informed practice in England.
Commissioned by the Department for Education, the Centre will be established as an independent organisation by 2020. This initiative is being supported by a Development Team that will set up the Centre, and a research partner, that will start to synthesise evidence and generate new research and products.
The Development Team is a consortium, led by Nesta and its Alliance for Useful Evidence, that will develop the new Centre. The consortium includes the Social Care Institute for Excellence, FutureGov and Traversum. Cascade at Cardiff University is the research partner.
Our work focuses on four main areas:
We are working closely with the sector to identify research priorities, and partner with local authorities to develop the evidence base and design the best way for people to access and use the findings. As at March 2018, we have:
- established an Advisory Group of stakeholders from across the children’s sector
- held a series of four events for practitioners
- established a Children and Young People’s Panel
- established a Practitioners’ Panel
- established a Voluntary and Community Sector Leaders Group
- met regularly with key sector leaders including the Children’s Improvement Board, the Principal Social Work Network, ADASS, BASW, LGA and of course the Department for Education.
Children and Young People’s Panel
The aim of the children and young people’s panel is to involve children and young people who use or have used children’s social work or social care services in influencing and contributing to the priorities and development of the What Works Centre.
Twenty children and young people met for the first time in February 2018. They shared their experiences of social care, and their views on what social workers need to learn about through a series of images that they created on the day.
- View slideshow of images: young people’s views on social care and skills needed by social workers
- Download a pdf of the images: young people’s views on social care and skills needed by social workers – PDF
- Read a blog about the event: The importance of pizza and co-production by Lucy Milich, Children’s Practice Development Manager, SCIE
As at March 2018, the development team has identified:
- how practitioners at different levels view, access and use evidence in their work through a series of in-depth practice insight visits to local authorities. Watch out for a series of blogs on the findings
- the policy environment and its future possible direction
- the extent of the evidence base within the children’s sector – and where the gaps lie.
This work has helped to identify the first two major research and review priorities for the Centre, which will be managed by Cascade.
The initial major research themes will look at two of the most longstanding issues for the sector:
- How to safely reduce the need for children to enter care
- How to improve supervision and decision-making in children’s social care
Testing approaches to accessing and using evidence
We will work with the sector to devise effective approaches to ensuring that evidence is both taken up and acted upon.
We will work with a limited number of pioneer sites to develop and test approaches to ensuring that local authorities are well positioned to make the best use of evidence that we know to be good, as it becomes available.
Further information will be published shortly. Sign up for Centre updates to find out more.
The Centre will be established as an independent organisation by summer 2020. The development team will establish a fully-designed organisation, appoint and support the executive team.
We are currently working with the Advisory Group and Panels to develop the centre’s initial strategy, and we are establishing a Founding Board with an independent, Founding Chair to lead the work of the Centre prior to 2020.
Applications are now open for the role of Founding Chair.
The successful candidate will be an established leader, with a deep commitment to improving outcomes for children and young people, and an understanding of our context. The Founding Chair will guide the development of the Centre’s initial strategy, build the board and the executive team, and bring into being the independent and influential What Works Centre which the sector needs.
Closing date: 4 May 2018
Practitioners’ Events: December 2017 and January 2018
The Development Team held a series of four events for practitioners to help gather detailed information and perspectives on:
- the key tasks and activities that social workers and colleagues perform
- how data and evidence might be made more readily accessible and useable
- how practitioners would like to get involved with the establishment of the Centre
The events were aimed at:
- Children’s social work practitioners such as frontline social workers, team managers, principal social workers, senior managers, practice leaders (e.g. Heads of Service and Assistant Directors)
- Other practitioners in the children’s social care system (e.g. non-qualified workers in residential care, family support workers, personal advisers and independent advocates)
- Practitioners in other services relevant to vulnerable children and young people (e.g. education, health, youth work, and the youth/criminal justice system).
The Development Team is keen to work closely with the sector – including frontline professionals, children, young people and families, managers, researchers and policy makers in establishing the new centre.
Phase 1: October 2017 – June 2018
The Team is engaging with the sector, and research the use of evidence, the policy environment, and sources and dissemination of evidence. We will also design the organisation and start to recruit the executive team for the future Centre.
Phase 2: June 2018 – June 2020
The Team will provide mentoring and support to the new executive team to help the development of the Centre as an independent organisation.
Phase 3: June 2020 onwards
The Development Team’s role comes to an end and the Centre will be an autonomous, independent and sustainable organisation.
Development Team partners
The Development Team is a consortium led by Nesta and its Allliance for Useful Evidence which will support the set-up of the future What Works for Children centre. It is NOT the Centre itself.
- Nesta is the prime contractor for the work and the lead on the integration agenda.
- The Alliance for Useful Evidence leads on research and evidence.
- The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) leads stakeholder management and engagement.
- FutureGov led on the practice insights work and provides ongoing methodological and technical support for the development of products and processes for the dissemination of evidence-informed learning.
- Traversum provides programme direction, runs the programme management office and leads the strategy and organisation design work.
Greg Wilkinson is the Programme Director for the Development Team.
The Development Team – led by Nesta who are the lead contractor - will report to the DfE and have an independent advisory group to provide the programme with expert challenge and support.
Cascadebased at Cardiff University, is the research partner to the Centre and will lead the research and reviews work.