Systems thinking applied to children’s social care: a one-day introduction for local authorities


June 25, 2019 in Manchester (completed)

July 9, 2019 in London (completed)

Why systems thinking?

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. 

In the summer of 2019, the Dartington Service Design Lab is running a series of introductory workshops on Systems Thinking applied to Children’s Social CareAs a leader in Children’s Services, you will learn about children’s social care as a dynamic system, and explore the local drivers of need, demand and pressure points. By seeing the system as a whole, you will be able to identify the best places and ways to intervene so that more children are kept safely at home. 

Who is the training for?

This workshop is for senior leaders, commissioners and managers working in local authority children’s services and social care. This workshop will be beneficial if you are looking for a fresh perspective on the challenges you are facing in your area. It will help you get a deeper understanding of how the wider system functions, and the intended and perhaps unintended consequences of decisions that you and others make. 

The event draws on the Dartington Service Design Lab’s experience of applying these concepts to practice in numerous local authorities in England. Our work has been developed through a partnership with the Social Systems Design Lab at the Brown School of Social Work (Washington University in St Louis, US). You can read more about our work in applying systems thinking to children’s social care in this short brief

What does the workshop include?

The one-day workshop will be engaging, practical and interactive. It will include:

  • An introduction to key concepts of systems thinking and system dynamics;

  • The practical application of key concepts to local challenges;

  • Interactive exercises and games to bring concepts to life;

  • Illustrations of how concepts may be developed into simulation models to help inform strategies and local system reforms;

  • An overview of some key insights authorities have made to date using these approaches;

  • Opportunities to network with fellow training participants throughout the day, exploring areas of similar concern and opportunities for local authority collaboration and shared learning.

Registration information and practicalities

You can choose from June 25, 2019 in central Manchester and July 9th, 2019 in central London. In both cities, the training will be at a modern, light and central venue (to be confirmed early June). 

Registration and coffee will open at 9.00am, with the workshop running from 10.00am until 4.00pm.  

The workshop costs £295 including VAT, per delegate. This includes lunch, refreshments and all materials.

Registrations and payment will be processed and taken through the Eventbrite registration portal.

To download the event prospectus, please click here.

Contact information: 

If you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to drop us a line at: 

About the Dartington Service Design Lab

We are an independent research and design charity dedicated to improving outcomes for children and young people. We work in close partnership with those commissioning, designing or delivering services for children. Our work is grounded in data and evidence, as well as a deep understanding of public systems and the diverse needs and community contexts they serve. We create the space to think differently. We learn by doing, we learn from our partners, and we share what we learn. 

Our system dynamics work seeks to identify system-level changes that may foster greater change to children’s lives than a single intervention alone and to identify the system conditions in which specific services could make the most difference. This is achieved in partnership with local authorities, and through the participatory approach to systems thinking and simulation modelling.