Safe Families for Children

An evaluation by randomised controlled trial of a programme that supports families in crisis

Safe Families for Children

An evaluation by randomised controlled trial of a programme that supports families in crisis

About

Project lead: Michael Little, PhD and Georgina Warner, PhD

The project has established the first Public Social Partnership in England. 

This innovative funding tool will assist with a national scale-up of a faith-based charity that provides support to families in crisis by delivering short-term respite for children aged 10 or under, family friendship and resources.

The intervention has operated in the USA for over 10 years, and has been piloted in the North East of England. It is a promising intervention, but there has been no impact evaluation to date.

Our role

The DSRU has assisted with setting up Public Social Partnerships (PSPs) in local authorities across England.

Integral to the PSPs is an independent evaluation, conducted by the DSRU, which has three components: a process evaluation; cost-benefit analysis; and an impact evaluation through a randomised controlled trial (RCT).

As part of the project, the DSRU has developed a mobile device application (app) to enable screening, referral and data collection for the RCT. 

The PSPs commit local authorities to continued provision of Safe Families for Children if the evaluation demonstrates positive impact. This innovative approach to working with public systems not only allows Safe Families for Children to achieve a sustainable model, but also improves the use of evidence in policy and practice.

Funder and collaborators

Funders: Department for Education Children's Social Care Innovation Programme and The Vardy Foundation

Collaborators: PSPs will be established with over 25 local authorities

 

 

Duration: May 2015 - March 2016

 

Outputs and resources

The RCT has been registered with ISRCTN. To view the registration click here and information for participating parent/carers and social workers can be found here.

The DSRU is evaluating the Safe Families for Children intervention to find out its impact on parental anxiety, children’s behavioural and emotional difficulties, as well as parental interpersonal support. This will help us better understand the effects of an alternative to care intervention. It will provide important evidence to Safe Families for Children, researchers, practitioners, funders and policy makers about what works to improve outcomes for families who are on the edge of care.

Over 360 families from 5 areas (East Midlands; Greater Manchester; Merseyside; North East; and West Midlands and The Black Country) will be involved in the evaluation, called the Alternative to Care Evaluation or ACE project, between May 2015 and May 2016. We will study how families change over a period of time (c.8 weeks) using short, well-tested questionnaires which will ask parents/carers to report on their well being, perceptions of social support and children’s behaviour and emotions.

Half of the children in the project will receive Safe Families for Children alternative to care intervention and half will receive services as usual. At the end of the study, we will compare the two groups of similar families in order to estimate the impact of the intervention. The group that each family is assigned to will be decided at random. All families are equally important to the success of the project, whether they receive the intervention or other services.

We are also interested in gaining a volunteer perspective to the Safe Families for Children intervention and will therefore be asking the volunteers some questions. This is to understand the impact that hosting children has on themselves and their own family.

For more information, about the project, or if you are a social work professional needing to download the Dartington app, please see below. For further queries, please contact the Project Coordinator, Laura Whybra, at DSRU.

The App

To access the Dartington app the software needs to be installed on your organisation’s computers.  You can download the App here.

Click the button to access the download files from Dropbox.  We are also interested in gaining a volunteer perspective to the Safe Families for Children intervention and will therefore be asking the volunteers some questions. This is to understand the impact that hosting children has on themselves and their own family.

For more information, about the project, or if you are a social work professional needing to download the Dartington app, please see below. For further queries, please contact the Project Coordinator, Laura Wybra, at DSRU.

 

Resources

ACE resources

/ Media

The DSRU is evaluating the Safe Families for Children intervention to find out its impact on parental anxiety, children’s behavioural and emotional difficulties, as well as parental interpersonal support.

Link: view media