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
When I’ve asked folk what good co-production involves, I’ve received variations of the following responses: ‘It’s just principles of good youth engagement’, ‘It’s not rocket science’ or ‘There’s a toolkit for that’.Read More
Finlay Green, researcher at the Dartington Service Design Lab, reflects on lessons learned from Rapid-Cycle Testing with FNP ADAPT, and the key to success.Read More
It’s Day 1 of the 3-day Science-based Frontiers of Innovation Workshop at the Harvard Centre on the Developing Child. The Service Design Lab is here with our partners from the Family Nurse Partnership National Unit to learn about innovative approaches to rapid cycle testing and adaptation.Read More
Public and private funders have been building, and backing, place-based approaches for the last ten years. But while grant-makers and grantees are busily buzzing the term to each other in tenders, bids, roundtables and meetings, there’s little consensus on what, precisely, they mean. The discourse on place-based approaches is in need of a vital dose of clarity. I recently delved into the literature to see if I could find any.Read More
We know this at the Dartington Service Design Lab. We are midway through a Rapid Cycle Testing process with the Family Nurse Partnership programme.Read More
We are approaching a crossroads in how we think about the design, improvement and evaluation of services for our children, families and communities. Here’s my take on how we at the Dartington Service Design Lab, and others, have tackled these tasks to date, and what we think is the way forward.Read More