Evaluation will set you free

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.

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Are services meeting the needs of children?

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.

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Co-production in testing – the art of the possible?

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.

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Pressures on children’s social care: a systems response

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.

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ReflectionBLOGVicky, Claire
Lab insight: using system dynamics in children’s social care

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.

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Beyond the buzz: what is a place-based initiative?

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. 

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