In January 2021 the Government announced a review into children’s social care, in response, the National Children’s Bureau undertook a rapid review.
The rapid review, which was carried out with with researchers from Cambridge University and the University of Kent, found a range of positive outcomes for children and families for a range of different interventions to support and strengthen families. Despite the difficulties evaluating early help, there is a growing case for funding and delivering these services. However, far more must be done to define and clarify the outcomes that the offer is intended to deliver.
The research evidence broadly suggests that the provision of early help can reduce rates of child welfare intervention and improve child and parent outcomes. However, a considerable part of the difficulty in developing early help policy that encompasses the diverse needs of families and children – both those that would benefit from universal support and those at the edge of child protection intervention – is the varied interpretation of what is classified as ‘early help’ and how varied measures and definitions of effectiveness are synthesized.
Citation of NCB’s work in the final Independent Review of Children’s Social Care:
Chapter two of the final report of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care relates to Family Help (link to full chapter). This chapter cites NCB’s work a number of times making our contribution the single most important source of evidence and analysis that informs this chapter. The primary pieces of NCB evidence they cite are:
- The Rapid Review of Early Help carried out via Living Assessments. This demonstrated that Early Help is often poorly defined and that this often hinders the effectiveness of service delivery and evidence collection;
- NCB's work on wide variation in thresholds and rising thresholds, linked to our work with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children.
- The Review responds to our analysis with a series of recommendations to develop a clear national definition of Family Help, setting eligibility for Family Help nationally, and a National Children’s Social Care Framework with defined outcomes and objectives for the system.
Read Anna Feuchtwang, Chief Executive of the National Children’s Bureau's statement on the Independent Review for Children's Social Care here.
You can also read NCB's response to the Review's 'Case for Change' demands here.