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CASCADE to work with local authorities in England to reduce need for children to enter care

25 January 2019

Family out walking

Cardiff University academics will be working with six local authorities on projects aimed at reducing the need for children to enter care.

The Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) is managing the scheme for The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, a UK government initiative.

With a total budget of £2.4 million, it will focus on empowering social workers in decision making, providing earlier help to children and making better use of available sources.

CASCADE will work with each local authority on setting up the projects, with hopes that the pilots will lead to large-scale evaluations from 2020.

The first phase, which will be undertaken by Darlington Borough Council, Hillingdon Borough Council and Wigan Council, will 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 take part in projects to base social workers in schools to work with children and families.  The selected partners will begin work with the Centre upon the signing of sub-contracts, which have been issued to each Local Authority this month.

Professor Donald Forrester, Director of CASCADE, based in the School of Social Sciences, 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.”

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.”