This year, the Lab, in partnership with Renfrewshire Council, Engage and Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, hosted a Learning day for the Early Action Systems Change initiative in Renfrewshire. The initiative aims to address two priority challenges: emotional wellbeing of children and young people, and coercive control in adolescent relationships. Ruth Wallace, System Change Lead Officer, from Renfrewshire Council explores what was learned that day, and what is means for the future of the area …Read More
The Hothouses for Innovation initiative is a service design collaboration between the Dartington Service Design Lab and Crisis, the national homelessness charity. The aim: to co-produce, with service users, an adaptation to Crisis’ service that would address a new local challenge. Our researcher, Ben Hartridge, explains why it’s vital that service design doesn’t end with one prototype but extends to trying, testing and improving.Read More
This summer saw the launch of our one-day introductory workshops on Systems Thinking Applied to Children’s Social Care in London and Manchester. These were aimed at introducing the concepts, methods and tools of systems thinking to decision-makers in local authority children’s services. With a new lineup of dates for training, we’re reflecting on the key takeaways for those who attended the sessions, what future attendees expect, and what’s next for us…Read More
The 2019 European Science for Prevention Research conference in Ghent chose to ‘look over the walls’ and promote multidisciplinary work in prevention research. But, as someone who frequently attends conferences and seminars, the word ‘multidisciplinary’ is frequently used, hard to define and difficult to apply.Read More
The Dartington Service Design Lab was commissioned by Save the Children UK to co-design a Toolkit to support place-based efforts to improve children’s early learning outcomes. Our team included experts in child development, evidence-based practice, system-change, and design. Maria Portugal and India Roche reflect on their views as designers developing the Toolkit across different contexts and audiences.Read More
Save the Children UK are committed to working in local communities to promote children’s early learning and help narrow the attainment gap for children growing up in poverty, compared to their more affluent peers. To support this, they asked Dartington Service Design Lab to develop a framework that local communities could use to develop an evidence-informed strategy for their area to support improved early childhood development. Tim Hobbs explains why it takes a holistic approach to evidence to make meaningful change.Read More
In 2015, the National Lottery Community Fund launched its 10-year programme ‘A Better Start’, focused on promoting good early childhood development. The Dartington Service Design Lab was brought in to put together an evidential foundation to support sites to plan their strategies. CEO Tim Hobbs was closely involved, and now asks: what’s next for the evidence?Read More
The Dartington Service Design Lab (‘the Lab’) has partnered with Chance UK to support the redesign, testing and improvement of their child mentoring service. Using the Lab’s method–Rapid Cycle Design and Testing–we’re considering what it takes to create a mentoring service that children and parents want, mentors can deliver, and supports children’s social and emotional development.Read More
Are you an Early Years practitioner, manager, funder or commissioner who would like to make a bigger difference to the lives of children and families?Read More
There is a clear need for social care services to become more innovative and adaptable to tackle complex challenges in dynamic and changing environments. However, we would argue that traditional approaches to monitoring and evaluation have potential to stifle innovation.
Our researcher, Ben Hartridge, draws on his experience with Crisis – the national homelessness charity, to argue that monitoring and evaluation can and should be designed to support innovation in public services and systems.Read More
Leaders of children’s social care systems are familiar with the pressures of supporting children and families: escalating child protection concerns compounded by limited resources for early help; a workforce under strain, and variable costs of children’s placements, all within the context of budgets being stretched to breaking point.Read More
A recent Guardian article reported spiralling Council spending on social work agency workers.
In this blog, Ben Hartridge takes a closer look at the issue through a Systems Thinking lens.
Now after three decades, we are pretty confident in our response to the question, which we’re sharing in our new report, Matching Children’s Needs and Services: A Case of Three Circles. In some ways, the answer won’t surprise many. But it contains some fundamental challenges to the way that we have organised support for vulnerable children and families.Read More
We’ve seen the story go something like this. You are an organisation with an idea. An idea to fix a problem. This may be a smart way to help families more easily access benefits to which they are entitled, activities to increase children’s emotional literacy or a way of reducing social isolation amongst vulnerable populations. Regardless of the idea, testing is crucial to see what needs to change or improve and you work with evaluators to help you.Read More
System dynamics isn’t a silver bullet – the strategies it identifies for safely reducing demand still have to be implemented well. But in the context of a 49.1% reduction in central government funding since 2010/11, local authorities are forced to cut services and centralise functions which, in the long-term, can contribute to poorer provision and higher spend.Read More
Our systems approach to children’s social care is relevant to most authorities: the specific challenges in each authority may not be exactly the same, but the circumstances of almost all authorities are – severe cuts and increased demand. Our intention in the near future is to further share the elements of our work to date that can be applied more universally.Read More
This is the text of a speech delivered by Jenny North, our Deputy Director, at the Children & Young People Now Conference on 5th December 2018.Read More
Place-based funding hasn’t been the only thing we’ve been looking at – we’ve also brought people together on how to increase the take-up and quality of youth social action in education, and worked with match funders on how best to evaluate the social action they’re supportingRead More
Last month we held our first Dartington Service Design Lab lecture in Edinburgh, Scotland. The theme of our event was “Systems Thinking: Unlocking it’s potential to improve children’s outcomes”.Read More
With Crisis Skylight Oxford, Maria Portugal and Ben Hartridge are designing new information and publicity materials to support outreach work in food banks, which the Skylight is pursuing as part of the Hothouses for Innovation initiative. It’s just a small part of our overall work but provides a neat example of our approach.Read More