This case study examines how a set of local authorities is implementing structural changes in child protection arrangements using Signs of Safety as the practice theory. The research involves empirical and methodological work devising an alternative to RCTs as the only acceptable way of establishing causal links in child welfare interventions, in tandem with related work in Case Study 3.
The key goal is to formulate a way of evaluating Signs of Safety as an organizational and practice framework for child protection services. Most practice approaches in child protection focus on the interaction between worker and family with some attention to supervision. Munro’s work on how complex systems influence individual performance was put to practical use in her review of the English child protection system. As a result of its analysis and recommendations, the co-creator of Signs of Safety extended this practice approach to a whole-organisation framework and created an amplified Theory of Change. We have been working with the Signs of Safety team since then, leading on action learning. We have contracts to implement whole system re-design in several jurisdictions. We are working closely with ten local authorities in England funded by a DfE grant (around 40 other local authorities are also implementing Signs of Safety). We also have contracts with Ireland, Northern Ireland, Alberta Canada, Northern Territories Australia, Texas USA.