Universities to evaluate effectiveness of multi-agency child safeguarding reforms

Wed 15 March, 2023
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A new research project being conducted by the University of Bedfordshire and King’s College London is now underway to assess the effectiveness of multi-agency safeguarding reforms and whether they reflect the needs of children, young people and their families.

The two-year study has been given almost £500,000 in funding from the National Institute for Health & Care Research (NIHR) and is to be led by academics at King’s College London and the University of Bedfordshire’s Safer Young Lives Research Centre (SYLRC). The project will also work in partnership with The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) and Camden Safeguarding Children Partnership Young Advisors, in collaboration with The Association of Child Protection Professionals & Family Rights Group.  

Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships (LSCPs) were introduced by the Children & Social Work Act 2017 to replace Local Children’s Safeguarding Boards. These new arrangements established joint accountability for oversight and governance of child safeguarding arrangements between local authorities, health services and the police. 

The evaluation is set to conclude in December 2024 and will culminate in the creation of a framework of outcome measures for ongoing evaluation and measurement of the impact of the reforms. In the context of current financial pressures facing both service providers and communities, the research will address how the work of LSCPs is funded and whether investment in LSCPs appears to be a cost-effective use of resources, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on multi-agency safeguarding and how the work of LSCPs has addressed that impact.

Principal Investigator Dr Jenny Driscoll, of the School of Education, Communication & Society at King’s College London, said: “This research provides a unique opportunity to address the longstanding challenges of multi-agency collaboration for the protection of children and to establish a set of outcome measures which reflect what is important to children, young people and families as well as professionals and the government, while being easy for agencies to use and interpret.”   

Professor Jenny Pearce OBE, Professor of Young People & Public Policy at the University of Bedfordshire’s SYLRC, commented: “Placing children and young people at the heart of evaluating provision is essential. This work will engage with a range of different Safeguarding Children partnerships to provide holistic multi agency insights into what works, for whom and in what circumstances.”

Alison Thorpe, Co-Investigator from TASP, added: “We welcome this important investment in finding out how reform has impacted the effectiveness of partnership arrangements and working. The Wood reforms represented a significant shift in partnership working and accountability for how partners meet their statutory responsibility to work together, and this research project represents an important opportunity to establish the level of confidence children, families and communities can have in multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. With strong engagement from all stakeholders, we can aim to ensure that the outcomes framework meets the needs of all groups.”

Suraya Miah, who will lead a team of young researchers, said: “Camden Safeguarding Children Partnership Young Advisors are delighted to lead on engaging children and young people in the research to ensure their perspectives and experiences are at the heart of the work of Local Children’s Safeguarding Partnerships.” 


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