The children’s charity Coram is carrying out an evaluation of a type of decision making used in children’s social care in the UK and internationally. Coram is carrying out the evaluation, of the use of Family Group Conferencing at pre-proceedings stage, between 2019 and 2022, funded by What Works for Children’s Social Care, as part of a Department for Education programme, Supporting Families: Investing In Practice.
The evaluation design is a randomised control trial (RCT). Randomised controlled trials are special because, unlike other methods, they allow us to reach conclusions about causality. Well-planned and executed RCTs can establish that it is FGCs, rather than other factors, that lead to particular benefits for families. This is because RCTs involve randomly assigning families to be referred or not referred for a particular service, programme or approach. So the only difference between groups of families is whether or not they were referred – other differences are averaged out. When we compare the groups later, we can attribute any differences we see to whether or not a referral was made. This helps in the context of FGCs because families’ lives are so complex. It’s a way of holding constant all that complexity, all that noise, and hearing the signal being sent by the FGCs.
This website is aimed at the 22 local authorities taking part in the study. This eight-minute video introduces the evaluation for these local authorities. They are: Bath and North East Somerset, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bromley, Derbyshire, Knowsley, Lancashire, Lambeth, Leicestershire, Lewisham, Merton, Middlesbrough, North East Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham City, Plymouth, Redcar and Cleveland, Rotherham, Salford, Sheffield, Shropshire, Southampton, Staffordshire and Sunderland.