About the project

The project aims and structure

The Innovate Project aims to increase understanding of the processes of innovation in social care. Innovation in such settings generally involves a fundamental rethink of the nature of complex social problems and transforming (often radically) the ways that services are structured and delivered. This can incur substantial investment of public money. However, not enough is yet known about barriers and levers to successful innovation, so opportunities to address gaps and deficiencies in social care provision are not necessarily maximised. By increasing understanding of what innovation requires at its different stages, this project aims to maximise public investment in social care and related services.

In year one of the project (2020), we are mapping the field of innovation with three reviews and a practice survey. This will provide us with a solid foundation upon which new knowledge can be built. As innovation can only be studied in context, we will then research the practice of innovation over two years of fieldwork (2021-2022). As the context for our study, we have chosen a contemporary issue which is provoking much concern: extra-familial risks or harm experienced by young people, such as child exploitation, peer-on-peer abuse, and gang affiliation. As these risks are challenging for traditional safeguarding systems and practice models to address, new, often radically different ways of understanding and responding to vulnerable young people and their families are often required. We will examine six case studies of how local authorities or social care organisations use one of these new approaches as a basis for practice or service innovation: Contextual Safeguarding, Trauma-informed Practice, or Transitional Safeguarding.

The final year of the Innovate Project (2023) will focus on working with key stakeholders to develop our findings into policy recommendations, practice guidance and resources. These should inform innovation practice, improve the design and delivery of social care, and enhance service experiences and outcomes for vulnerable young people and their families.

Intro to the project

To find out more about the project, please explore the different links and watch this short video by Professor Michelle Lefevre, the Principal Investigator.

Meet the project team

Our funder

This project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, through a specific call for collaborative research proposals to understand how, why and where innovation happens in social care, to best understand how to improve people’s lives.

Extra-familial risks

The research approach

Advisory Forum

Learning & Development Networks

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