IASR Research Projects


Child and family research

Doing What Counts and Measuring What Matters (Islington Children’s Services)

A collaborative change project that aims to embed Motivational Social Work in practice. The embedded research team employ both quantitative and qualitative methods, including direct observation of social work practice, child and parent interviews, and standardised measures to gather, analyse and feedback findings on practice quality and impact.

Evaluation of the National Female Genital Mutilation Centre (DfE)

The National Female Genital Mutilation Centre (NFGMC) aims to achieve a system change in the provision of services for children and families who are affected by Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), abuse linked to faith or belief, and breast ironing and flattening. The evaluation adopts a mixed methods approach to collate and triangulate sources of both quantitative and qualitative data in order to evaluate the cost and consequences of implementing NFGMC’s model of delivery to prevent and response to cases of FGM and Harmful Practices.

Learning from the experts: Young people’s perspectives on how we can support healthy child development after sexual abuse (ESRC and NSPCC)

Young people’s perspectives on how we can support healthy child development after sexual abuse. This is a participatory action research project focusing on supporting mental health and wellbeing after sexual abuse in adolescence.

Evaluation of Havering Face2Face Pathways (DfE)

F2FP is an ambitious programme of change designed to integrate co-production, needs-responsive access to services and systemic interventions to support successful transition to adulthood to improve life chances for young people in Havering. It aims to develop practice that is relationship-based, co-produced and personalised to the needs of children and young people. A mixed methods evaluation is being undertaking, including in-depth case studies of young people leaving care.

Scaling and Deepening the Reclaiming Social Work Model: Follow up (DfE)

Reclaiming Social Work (RSW) is a whole-system reform that aims to deliver systemic practice in children’s services. Key elements include in-depth training, small units with shared cases and group systemic case discussions, clinician support, reduced bureaucracy, devolved decision-making and enhanced administrative support. The evaluation will explore the longer term impact of RSW on outcomes for children and families.

Early Adopters: New Statutory Arrangements for Children’s Safeguarding (Bexley Children’s Services)

Bexley, Greenwich and Lewisham have successfully secured ‘safeguarding early adopter’ funding from the Department for Education to support them to test new children’s safeguarding partnership arrangements. The evaluation is a multi-method, including interviews with key stakeholders, structured feedback from participants at learning events and observations of ‘learning hub’ and ‘deep dive’ meetings.


Substance misuse and ageing - Promoting Research Impact

Further details are available from our SMART group here

Advancing the production, utilisation, and impact of social work research to generate innovation in human services (Australian Research Council) (with Griffith, La Trobe and Southern Cross Universities)

The study aims to:

  • Examine the scope and quality of Australian social work research in three key fields (child protection, disability services, and aged care)
  • Assess the utility of this research to the human services sector and its impact on generating innovation
  • Develop strategies to advance the production, uptake, and impact of social work research.

Implementing and embedding research-based organisational change for better outcomes in self-neglect: a co-production approach (ESRC) (with Sussex University)

This project explores how organisational learning from rersearch on self-neglect can be embedded by Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs). Taking a co-production approach, a learning set with representatives from 8 Boards will generate, implement and review action plans to embed research learning on self-neglect in the day-to-day practice and structures of relevant agencies.

Relational wellbeing in the lives of young refugees in Finland, Norway and Scotland (the Drawing Together Project)

We are working with groups of young refugees in Finland, Norway, and Scotland over a period of three years to examine how they draw and describe their networks and relationships. Through a series of art workshops and interviews, we explore how their social networks flow and evolve over time. In addition we interview people who participants nominate as a ‘value person’ in their social networks. In this way we also consider how Finns, Norwegians and the British make room for these young refugees in their countries. In this project we focus on mutuality, hospitality and reciprocity. The stories that we gather are about building peace and prosperity for each other as an expression of relational wellbeing.

More information is available at Drawing Together Project


Child and family research

Re-imagining social care services in co-production with disabled parents (DRILL/Big Lottery)

Working in co-production with a group of disabled parents the project:

  • Explored disabled parents’ experiences of statutory assessments in children’s social care services and subsequent service provision, including examination of a) the assessment pathway (how parents access support) b) the assessment itself (thresholds and eligibility criteria) c) principles guiding the assessment, and how these were experienced by disabled parents.

  • Drew on disabled parents, child and family social workers and researchers’ knowledge and expertise to re-imagine how children’s and adults’ social care might deliver holistic services which value the needs, assets and rights of the whole family.

Ealing Brighter Futures Intensive Engagement Model: Working with adolescents in and on the edge of care (DfE)

Ealing’s Brighter Futures Intensive Engagement Model is a complex, whole system intervention. Its implementation was intended to support and enable the children’s social care workforce to build effective, consistent relationships with adolescents, families, communities and carers, and to use those successful relationships to bring about positive change.

A mixed methods approach was employed, including: baseline and follow up interviews with strategic and operational managers, focus groups with social work teams, surveys and interviews with young people, foster carers and lead professionals and use of social network analysis to explore relational connections in a sample of cases.

Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire (DfE)

The mixed method study evaluated a whole-system multi-agency innovation in Children’s Services. Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire (FSH) is a whole-system reform of Children’s Services which aims to improve the quality of work undertaken with families, and thereby outcomes for children and parents. It brings together a partnership including the police, health (including mental health), probation and substance misuse services.

The evaluation consisted of three strands:

  • Qualitative and quantitative data on the process of change (interviews, focus groups, structured observations and questionnaires from staff at three time points)
  • Comparison of practice, service experiences and outcomes prior to, during and after FSH implementation. This involved observations of practice (104 of recorded and coded for skill), research interviews with parents shortly after allocation and 3 months later
  • Analysis of a large dataset that included evidence on service use and outcomes for all children and parents in every family allocated in FSH.

Evaluation of Scaling and Deepening the Reclaiming Social Work Model (DfE)

The mixed method study evaluated a whole-system reform of Children’s Services by a partnership between a social enterprise, Morning Lane Associates and five local authorities. Reclaiming Social Work (RSW) is a whole-system reform that aims to deliver clinical support, group case discussions, devolved decision-making and enhanced administrative support.

The following data were collected:

  • Data on the process of change from the perspective of key stakeholders
  • A comparison of practice, service experiences and outcomes between RSW units and service as usual, drawing on coded observations of direct practice with families, research interviews with families and computerized records

Case study data on Keeping Families Together (KFT) units, including interviews with staff, observations of direct practice, interviews with family members and secondary analysis of fata on children young people receiving a KFT service to provie an indication of impact on care entry and potential cost saving.


Young People

Surviving Incarceration (Nuffield Foundation)

Research conducted by the University of Bedfordshire’s Vauxhall Centre for the Study of Crime, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, estimates that children in care who come into contact with the justice system are seven times more likely to be imprisoned than their peers who are not in care. Surviving Incarceration - read more

Beyond Youth Custody

The Beyond Youth Custody programme BYC), which completed on 31 May 2018 - was a six-year England-wide learning and awareness programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund as part of the Youth in Focus initiative. Since its inception in 2012, BYC built a robust evidence base about what works in terms of effective resettlement for young people. This evidence base – rooted in the views of children and young people – was used to challenge, advance and promote better thinking in policy and practice for the effective resettlement of young people leaving custody.

BYC was a partnership between the Vauxhall Centre at the University of Bedfordshire, ARCS (UK), Nacro, the University of Salford and focused on four main areas of work:

  • Producing robust evidence about what works
  • Giving young people a voice
  • Developing and promoting good practice
  • Identifying and communicating what needs to change.

BYC produced more than 30 publications, including research reports and guidance for practitioners which constitute the largest body of evidence currently available on youth resettlement.

The model of resettlement developed by BYC has been adopted by HM Inspectorate of Probation and the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales.

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