Evaluation of the Multi-Agency Child Safeguarding Reforms(MACS Evaluation)

Contact: Jenny Driscoll Email: jenny.driscoll@kcl.ac.uk Department: School of Education, Communication & Society Institution: King’s College London Project timeline: We suggest Feb-April 2024 but are flexible: project ends December 24. Project duration: 13 weeks Closing date: 31st December Expertise required: Desirable: experience of focus groups; knowledge of the English safeguarding/child protection system; direct work with children and young people. Project Description: This is a 2-year project (January 2023-December 2024), commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and funded by NIHR. It comprises i) an initial evaluation of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of strategic oversight and governance of local multi agency safeguarding arrangements in England by Local Safeguarding Children Partnerships (LSCPs) and ii) development of a framework for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the operation of LSCPs to inform future policymaking and practice development. The focus of the work includes understanding how LSCPs ensure their work is informed by the views and experiences of children, and young people and families; and the impact of COVID-19 on multi-agency safeguarding arrangements. Professor Sarah Byford from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience leads the economic evaluation aspect. A survey to professionals working in/with LSCPs (October-November 2023) will be followed by case studies of 8-12 LSCPs in which we will undertake workshops with local safeguarding leads, members of the LSCP executive group, children and young people, and families. Collaboration with key stakeholders is achieved through partnership with The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) and Camden Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP), whose young advisors will lead= research with children and young people. The methodology combines Theory of Change (ToC) and realist evaluation techniques to assess delivery of change at a general level while exploring processes generating change in different contexts. Realist evaluation explores how context (C) acts as an enabler or barrier to triggering mechanisms of change (M) to achieve the required outcomes (O) through development of ‘candidate theories’ about what works best, in which circumstances, for whom and why (‘CMO configurations’). Description of the work involved: We anticipate that the student will work on the project during the case study phase. Subject to the student’s preferences and the stage of the study at the time of employment, they will have the opportunity to contribute to 1- recruiting participants and delivering workshops/focus groups with diverse members, from children and young people to strategic leads in Health, Police and local authorities (project goal: 4 workshops in each of 8-12 LSCP areas by end of April 2024) 2- writing up the survey findings 3- refining our Theory of Change in the light of data from the workshops (project target date: end of March 2024) 4- disseminating findings to date, including through webinars, a research advisory board meeting (March 2024), preparation of accessible materials for young people and families and/or 7-minute briefings for professionals They will also be expected to support overall project planning and administrative tasks such as arranging project meetings, setting agendas, taking minutes and maintaining the project plan. Student benefits: Working with a larger team of researchers, We are a supportive team of 9, comprising academics from IoPPN and the Institute for Women and Children’s Health as well as SSPP at King’s, senior academics from the University of Bedfordshire with expertise in social care evaluation and research with vulnerable young people, a research assistant, a non academic partner from the sector, and a young researcher from Camden’s Safeguarding Children Partnership. Collaboration with external partners / Networking and dissemination We work closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, and maintain dialogue with Department of Education and the Home Office. The project is intended to inform English child protection policy and provides an excellent opportunity to collaborate with the sector through our partners (The Association of Safeguarding Partners (TASP) and Camden Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP)), and collaborators (Family Rights Group) and the Association of Child Protection Professionals. We have a multi-disciplinary research advisory board with both academic and practice experts, providing a wealth of opportunities for the student to make connections. There are opportunities to contribute to a range of dissemination materials and events. Practice in academic writing & potential for publication We will support the student to write up some of the study findings, including through publication in academic journals. We will also provide opportunities to develop skills in writing and dissemination to lay audiences, including young people. Research methods The student will benefit from contributing to development of a theory of change and may have the opportunity to work on refining survey analysis and findings. Through their involvement in recruiting for and facilitating case study workshops, the student will gain experience of how to design and adapt recruitment strategies and research instruments to suit different research participants.