Cardiff University has been chosen as the research partner in a £4.85m initiative to help improve the lives of children who are at risk of abuse or neglect.
The Department for Education has named the University’s Children’s Social Care Research Development Centre (CASCADE) – based in the School of Social Sciences – as its research partner for the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care.
The new Centre will develop a strong evidence base around effective interventions and practice systems in children’s social care, examining support for children from the point of referral through to adoption, care-leaver support and targeted early help, among other areas.
It will bring together leading experts from the University’s Centre for Developing and Evaluating Complex Interventions for Public Health Improvement (DECIPHer), the Centre for Trials Research, the Systematic Use of Research Evidence Unit and the School of Medicine. Expertise in economic evaluation will be provided from Warwick University.
Professor Donald Forrester from the Children’s Social Care Research and Development Centre (CASCADE) at Cardiff University and new Director of Research for the What Works Centre said: “We are delighted to be involved in this important initiative. The What Works Centre aims to provide useful evidence of the highest standard for workers and leaders across Children’s Social Care, and we look forward to delivering an ambitious programme of work aimed at making a tangible difference to services for children and their families.”
The new What Works Centre will enable leading social scientists to evaluate the availability and quality of evidence underpinning public policy interventions; compare the effectiveness of new approaches and normal practice; and advise those commissioning and undertaking interventions to ensure that their work can be evaluated effectively.
It is part of the UK government’s wider plans to develop better practice in children’s social care work, backed by £200 million in the Innovation Programme.
Minister for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill, said: “All children deserve the best possible care and support and that’s why we are investing £200 million in the Innovation Programme to help organisations to drive improvements in children’s social care.
“The What Works Centre will play an important role in building evidence to both help improve outcomes for children and deliver cost effective innovation, and I am delighted that Cardiff University has been awarded the research partnership. I look forward to hearing more about the centre’s work to improve outcomes for children.”
Currently in its early stages, the centre aims to become a fully independent organisation by summer 2020.
Existing What Works Centres include the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE); The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF); The Early Intervention Foundation; What Works Centre for Crime Reduction; and the Centre for Ageing Better.
The University will work with Nesta, which was awarded the contract to deliver a What Works Centre last month.