The research approach

A survey of current practice

A Practice Survey undertaken in May-July 2020 will provide a picture of whether, where and how local authorities and other social care organisations across the UK are innovating to address extra-familial risks faced by young people. We will learn what approaches are being drawn on to inform innovation, at what stage in the innovation trajectory organisations are currently, and the facilitators, capabilities, barriers and inhibitors to innovation that have been experienced. We will explore how well known and influential are the three approaches focused on by this project (Trauma-informed Practice, Contextual Safeguarding and Transitional Safeguarding. We will also seek to learn whether Covid-19 has caused local authorities and other organisations to transform service responses to young people and their families.

Survey respondents will be able to indicate interest in participating in the project, either as case study sites, or as members of the Innovation Learning and Development Network.

We expect to publish the report of the Practice Survey in August 2020. If your organisation hasn’t yet completed the survey, please get in touch with us.

Building theory about innovation in social care

We are conducting a literature review in the first half of 2020 of the ways in which innovation is understood and practised within social care settings, both in the UK and in countries with a similar approach to social care. This ‘critical interpretive synthesis’ will enable us to look at a wide range of literature types. Alongside the review, we are gathering the experiences and views of a range of expert informants with significant experience of innovation in the sector. This includes interviewing politicians, policymakers, senior leaders, operational managers, academics, researchers and representatives from social enterprises and charities that are leading on and promoting public service innovation. Combined, our analysis will shape our thinking on innovation, building new theory about the nature of innovation in social care, and informing the fieldwork stages of the project.

If you are interested in being interviewed as a key informant, please get in touch.

The findings from this review will be available to read and download from the website in Summer 2020. 

An evidence review of effective approaches

We are conducting a rapid evidence review in the first year of the project of how social care practice approaches and organisational systems are seeking to address ‘extra-familial risks and harm experienced by young people’. Our method applies an adaptation of a systematic review methodology, which searches fewer databases, in order to provide a quick overview of the available evidence.

Our review questions are as follows:

  • What practice methods, structures and systems are helpful in addressing extra-familial risks and harm experienced by young people, and how?
  • What are the identified challenges in implementing practice approaches and systems to address these risks, and how might they be best overcome?

In addition, we are conducting specific searches for any evidence relating to the three approaches at the heart of our project: Trauma-informed Practice, Contextual Safeguarding and Transitional Safeguarding.

The findings from this review will be available to read and download from the website in Summer 2020.

An analysis of UK policy and guidance

In the first half of 2020 we are conducting a documentary analysis of UK policy and practice guidance related to assessing and addressing extra-familial risks and harm. As part of this, we will examine whether and how our three approaches of Trauma-informed Practice, Contextual Safeguarding and Transitional Safeguarding appear in existing national level documentation. This analysis will be updated in 2022, as the field flexes with the advent of new knowledge and changes in policy directions.

The findings from this analysis will be available to read and download from the website in Summer 2020.

The case study research

Through the Practice Survey and our other mappingwe identified six sites around the country which are building on our three promising approaches - Trauma-informed Practice, Contextual Safeguarding or Transitional Safeguarding - as a basis for innovating new practice models or service structures to address extra-familial risks and harmDevon Children’s Services and Partners and the charity, Safer London, are drawing on Contextual Safeguarding, an approach which seeks to intervene directly with groups of young people, and in community spaces where risks have been identified, not just with individuals who have been classed as at high risk. Brighter Futures for Children in Reading and North Lanarkshire Education and Families Service are implementing a Trauma-informed ethos within their service delivery. This framework emphasises resilience and recovery, and prioritises safety, trust, collaboration, choice, and empowerment in professionals’ interactions with traumatised young people. Finally, the Safeguarding Adults Board for Hackney and Sheffield Children and Families Services are each leading the pilot of Transitional Safeguarding on behalf of their wider children’s and adults’ safeguarding systems and community safety partnerships. This emergent concept requires whole system change within and across interagency networks to support young people experiencing extra-familial risks, as they cross the threshold into adulthood. 

The two years of fieldwork are 2021 and 2022. Our methods include ethnography (observation) of organisational processes, interventions and practices; analysis of inter-organisational policies and practice guidance; case file reviews; interviews with young people, parents and carers; surveys, focus groups and interviews with professionals at all levels in the heirarchy; analysis of data management systems; and cost effectiveness analysis. While social distancing guidelines adhere during the Covid-19 pandemic, all of our methods are virtual/online.  

Engagement with key stakeholders

We will work with an advisory group of stakeholders throughout the project, to ensure the practice relevance of our approach to data collection, analysis, and dissemination. This includes policy makers, academics, practice leaders, young people, and parents. We will build UK-focused and international Learning and Development Networks who will be the early adopters of our findings and who will provide feedback on their relevance and usefulness, including any facilitators, barriers, or inhibitors to innovation.

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