Local Authorities Research Consortium
The study identified several challenging issues, including ‘normalised’ neglectful behaviour in some communities. Practitioners may not know which community organisations exist or what early help they could offer. The report suggests a range of strategies to help prevent neglect or support families to address neglectful behaviour, including:
Promote existing services more effectively, simplify processes and reduce waiting lists
Improve multi-agency working and information sharing
Improve families’ knowledge about children’s social care to remove the stigma associated with seeking help
Raise community awareness about different levels of neglect
Provide training and support for those in the community who are working with families.
LARC5 looked at one of the pressing issues facing the children’s sector: neglect. We investigated how to effectively support families with different levels of need across the early intervention spectrum to engage with services within an overall framework of neglect. Nine authorities from across England carried out research into this topic, supported by the LARC researchers at NFER and RiP. Our key findings were:
Practitioners and families felt that more help needs to be offered to families early on, before issues escalate. However, practitioners felt that most help was available when families encountered more complex difficulties, rather than offering them preventative advice and support through education or universal services.
Authorities’ and different practitioner groups’ responses to a child who may be at risk of neglect may vary slightly.
LARC’s fourth report looked at the use of the common assessment framework (CAF) with families with complex needs and explored the interface between CAF multi-agency teams and social care in meeting children and families’ needs. Building on the success of previous rounds of LARC, this report presents the findings from twelve authorities comprising 39 case studies. Each LA developed, conducted, analysed and reported their own research project with the support of NFER and RiP researchers.
Timescale: April 2011 – March 2012
The third round of LARC explored early intervention, using the CAF process and its cost effectiveness. Twenty-one local authorities (LAs) were involved in LARC3, with each developing, conducting, analysing and reporting their own research project, with support from NFER researchers. Each project, collectively comprising 80 case studies, gathered views from practitioners and families about a CAF episode. Views were sought on the successes and challenges of the process in improving family outcomes but also on the time and costs associated with a CAF episode. For each case study, data were gathered on the time and costs of the CAF episode (i.e. the assessment, TAC meetings and packages of support) and the possible future scenarios avoided by helping the family. An adapted futurising methodology was used to determine possible future scenarios avoided.
The findings from LARC3 will be of interest to national and local Government agencies, Children’s Trusts, all Children’s Service authorities and anyone with an interest in early intervention; the CAF process and cost effectiveness. The report can be accessed below.
Timescale: April 2010 – March 2011
The second round of work used the CAF process as a proxy for exploring the impact of integrated practice on children, young people, their families, professionals who worked with them and the services themselves. LARC2 had two research questions:
Does the CAF process support the achievement of better outcomes for children and young people?
What are the key factors that promote the effectiveness of CAF in different contexts?
Twenty-four local authorities (LAs) were involved in round 2 and each developed, conducted, analysed and reported their own research project. Research projects focused on one of three groups of children and young people: key stage 3 non-attenders; early years development or children and young people with behavioural issues/at risk of substance of misuse within the context of engaging with children, young people, families and communities; the work of the lead professional or the effectiveness of Children’s Trust arrangements. Projects were conducted within the overarching theme of ‘working with schools’.
Conclusions and recommendations of LARC 2, which NFER pulled together from the findings from the 24 individual projects, will be of interest to national and local Government agencies, Children’s Trusts, all Children’s Service authorities and anyone with an interest in integrated working and/or the CAF process. Reports can be accessed below.
Timescale: October 2008 – April 2010
LARC1’s aim was to identify the early impact of integrated children’s services and the features that promote or hinder success in improving outcomes for children and young people. This was explored through the lens of services and support for three key groups of vulnerable young people: looked-after children, children with autistic spectrum disorders, and young people at key stage 3 with poor school attendance. The LARC study highlights the evidence for early impact on services, practitioners and the children and young people and families under study. There are examples of how outcomes have improved for some of the people involved, making use of qualitative evidence, stories and case studies gathered throughout the study. The findings from the first year of the research are reported in relation to a four-level model of impact. This model helped LAs to reflect on their progress towards integration.