Professor Tony Long, Dr Joan Livesley, Michael Murphy and Michael Ravey of the , Midwifery, Social Work and Social Policy have developed research focused on supporting the development of health and social care initiatives to promote social inclusion and improve quality of life, family cohesion, and health outcomes for ‘troubled’, at risk, and disadvantaged families:
- Guiding practice, strategic decision-making and organisational change in partnership with local authorities and voluntary sector organisations, resulting in positive outcomes for children and families;
- Influencing national policy development in relation to improvements in health and social care services, resulting in reduced dependence on services.
Supporting integrated services
- A 4-year longitudinal evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions for neglected children commissioned by Action for Children has supported the development of effective measurement tools to guide assessment and review, and also established links between presenting circumstances, interventions and outcomes for children. Clear explanation of the factors resulting in reduction of risk to the level of universal services has proved valuable to the national charity and to other organisations across the UK. Tony and his colleagues’ research established that for some children, referred too late for effective early intervention, proceeding into care could be accelerated as a result of the rigour of the assessment process which was found convincing in court.
- Tony and his colleagues were commissioned to evaluate the Springboard Project in Blackpool and developed findings, applicable in a range of settings, based on the compelling conclusions of the Evaluation that; “the sum of this sustained partnership effort had left Blackpool, as an local strategic partnership, with a far stronger collaborative agenda in commissioning, organisational development and practice than it enjoyed before the Springboard process began.”
- The Evaluation of the Springboard Project has shown that the approaches taken in the Project were effectively applicable internationally: “The success of the project to date has been captured by the external evaluation undertaken by Salford University over two years. It identified the huge culture change that had taken place across services; “…A mindset has been established of sharing information and problems, then sharing solutions. It is evident from the evaluation that this initiative has had a significant impact on the quality of the lives of families and a systemic change in the way services are delivered.....The Springboard model of family preservation should be trialled across Queensland with a full commitment across government to promote its success” (Boyle 2012).
- The Northern Ireland Assembly has noted the impact of the 4-year longitudinal evaluation of the effectiveness of interventions for neglected children study: "It is rewarding to see the positive impact that the Clooney Family Centre is having on the lives of the families it engages with and I commend the work carried out by Action for Children through its many life-changing projects which span all areas of Northern Ireland,” said Junior Minister Bell after a visit of Northern Ireland Executive Ministers to a family centre in Derry/Londonderry: “The Ministers were there to see, first-hand, the centre’s involvement in the UK wide Child Neglect Intervention Pilot. Action for Children has developed the UK neglect intervention project to identify effective and timely interventions with children and families. This project is the subject of a longitudinal evaluation by the University of Salford.”
- The innovative research approach led to the development of new ways of working and cultural change in workforce attitude often referred to as the “no wrong door” approach. Professional and support workers have come to recognise the needs of whole families and to work across traditional professional boundaries to the benefit of children and families, evidenced in the All Party Parliamentary Local Government Group report “Primary Justice”.
- The research contributed to the development of the UK government’s Troubled Families Programme, which has turned around the lives of 14,000 of England’s toughest to tackle households in 15 months, with 50,000 families being worked with by mid-2013. Working with Troubled Families: A guide to the evidence and good practice DCLG 2012 identified the importance the skills of individual workers, in family intervention work both in building an honest and productive relationship with a family and influencing the actions of other agencies around that family identified in Tony and his colleagues’ research: “Family intervention workers are dedicated to the families and provide an antidote to the fragmented activity from many different agencies that usually surrounds a troubled family. They ‘grip’ the family, their problems and the surrounding agencies and are seen to be standing alongside the families, their difficulties and the process being put in place, which can lead to new approaches to dealing with long standing problems.”
Four year longitudinal evaluation of the Action for Children UK Neglect Project