Improving Children’s Social Care Services: Results of a feasibility study

New report from CORC, NSPCC and Loughborough University, Improving Children’s Social Care Services: Results of a feasibility study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

This report sets out the findings of a feasibility study that aimed to understand how to define ‘good’ children’s social care services and how to assess whether they have improved. The intention was for the feasibility study to support a larger project exploring the processes involved in improving children’s social care services.

The key findings of the study are:

  • There is a lack of consistent expectations about outcomes for children’s social care services and what indicators should be used to monitor them. There is mixed evidence about the features that characterise good children’s social care services, and a significant proportion of it is based on expert opinion and has not been tested quantitatively.
  • Analysis of the relationship between outcome data for children in need collated nationally by the Department for Education and Ofsted ratings of children’s services found very little association. There did not seem to be any pattern in terms of the local authorities that were in the top or bottom percentiles for child outcome. Only one child outcome variable and one workforce variable had a statistically significant relationship with the Ofsted ratings.
  • Before proceeding with a study exploring how children’s social care services improve, it is important to identify an outcomes framework that a wide range of stakeholders agree is appropriate and to establish a set of indicators that reflect these outcomes and that could be collected and collated at a national level.
  • The study team concluded that at this time it is not feasible to go ahead with the main project as originally envisaged, and instead to focus on how to create an outcomes framework and establish an appropriate set of indicators.