Just leaving this with you: an excerpt from the CSC Innovation Programme Newsletter of November 2020 which has just dropped in to my inbox, on the publication of the final Innovation Programme and Partners in Practice Evaluation Report. The Innovation Programme has been running since 2014, to test and share new ways of working with vulnerable children and young people. It is the intention of the Department for Education, that the findings should inform future practice, policy and funding decisions.
These evaluation reports provide a vast body of learning, which will be useful for practitioners and policy makers across children’s social care. Many of the innovation projects have seen positive outcomes for children, young people and families, including increased safety, stability and wellbeing. While many projects are already being adopted and adapted by other local areas, including those being further evaluated through the Supporting Families and Strengthening Families programmes, we would encourage all those who work with vulnerable children to consider how these evaluations could be useful for your future programming.
Overall, evidence from evaluations of the Innovation Programme suggests various aspects of practice, and of service systems, were key to achieving good outcomes in projects working with cohorts across the spectrum of need and risk.
Common to most approaches within effective projects were:
• the centrality of building consistent, trusting relationships, and providing time for this;
• the focus on bolstering and leveraging strengths and resources to identify solutions and working together to support progress towards positive outcomes; and
• the provision of multi-faceted (often multi-disciplinary and sometimes multi-agency) support that could address multiple needs and issues, including those relating to the wider relationships and social contexts in which individuals and whole families are embedded, in a holistic, coherent, and joined-up way.
The evidence from across Innovation Programme evaluations is also clear that achievement of good outcomes, and of good quality, relationship-based, strengths-based, and holistic practice needs to be supported by enabling systemic conditions, structures, and processes.
Key systemic enablers included:
• improving practitioner time capacity and service capacity to enable sufficient time for work (including direct work) on each case;
• using shared, evidence-informed practice methodologies and tools, and providing training and skilled supervision to support this;
• providing integrated multi-disciplinary specialist support enabled by group case discussion;
• improving multi-agency collaboration; and
• engaging in thoroughgoing consultation on and/or co-production of services.
While the findings apply both to whole children’s social care systems and to services working with more targeted cohorts, the evaluations have generated further findings more specific to their project contexts, producing valuable lessons for services considering introducing alternative delivery models, and for services for children and young people in and leaving care. We hope the evaluations also provide you with useful overall lessons on innovation and evaluation in children’s services.
There doesn’t seem to be anything else to add!