Wave 1 of the English Innovation Programme (EIP), funded by the Department for Education (DfE), supported 10 Signs of Safety (SofS) pilots across England (see our earlier evaluation, conducted 2015-17). The pilots were run by the consortium MTM. This evaluation for the SofS pilot programme was designed to answer whether outcomes for children and young people are improving and whether there is better value for money across children’s social care. The pilots were supported by Wave 2 EIP funding and the evaluation covered 2018 - 2020.
2018 – 2020
Department for Education
In five pilots we undertook qualitative interviews and focus groups as well as assessing the quality of recording and practice. This involved interviews with key stakeholders; focus group with managers and practitioners; and an assessment of case recording and practice. We worked with two pilots and two non-SofS contrast areas to develop detailed case studies of specific teams or arrangements. We examined effectiveness and outcomes using national data sets and data from the 10 pilots. What Works for Children’s Social Care conducted a Difference in Difference (DiD) analysis.
The implementation of SofS varied markedly across LAs, as did use of its components. There appeared to be a lack of consensus around what SofS is and how to use it. Rather than a decreasing level of prescription, as envisaged, there appeared to be an increase, with additional recording and process requirements. There was no evidence of improved staff wellbeing or retention or that more detailed application led to more thorough assessments. Findings suggest SofS had no impact on numbers of children in need/looked after children at the authority level.
Findings of this important evaluation have been shared with government policymakers and other national and international stakeholders.