Engagement overview

We were clear from the start of the review that we wanted to listen to and engage with a wide range of voices in order to build the best possible recommendations to achieve real change for children and families. We approached the review over four phases – Diagnosis, Discovery, Development and Delivery.

Below we detail how we have approached our engagement work over the first three phases of the review.

Diagnosis

In January 2021 we asked for submissions through a Call for Advice and in March we extended this through a Call for Evidence.

This evidence and advice, along with workshops and meetings we held from March to June with people with lived experience of children’s social care, informed the Case for Change where we set out what we considered to be the problems in children’s social care.

The results of our engagement work prior to the Case for Change can be found in the ‘Supporting Evidence to the Case for Change published in June 2021.

Discovery

When we published the Case for Change we asked you to tell us what we had missed or misunderstood – and you shared your feedback through the summer. We published a summary of this feedback in October 2021.

We offered opportunities to get involved through events, workshops and focus groups – organised by the review or by organisations who support people with lived experience of children’s social care or the children’s social care workforce.

We have archived the calendar which listed these events and some of Josh MacAlister’s public engagements here.

Development

In November and December 2021 we ran a ‘Call for Ideas’ to give people the opportunity to contribute ideas around solutions which will help us formulate the review’s final recommendations. Submissions to the Call for Ideas informed our thinking as did everything we’ve read and heard over the period of the review. You can read your responses to the call for ideas here.

This phase also involved returning to young people, families, professionals and groups that we have developed a dialogue and relationship with over the first three phases to test our thinking around possible ideas for recommendations

Delivery

May 2022 saw the final phase “Delivery”, where we published our recommendations, detailing what we think needs to change in children’s social care and how.

Listening to those with lived experience of children’s social care

We have heard from well over 2000 people with lived experience of children’s social care who have shared their experiences, the negatives and positives, and suggested areas for the review to focus on.

As well as holding review-led sessions, we have also met with people through sessions led by organisations that they know and trust, as we know many people prefer to engage in this way.

In October 2021, we published a report rounding up our engagement work with young people since June, as well as a more accessible summary. You can read this as well as insights gathered by Coram A National Voice through consultations with children in care councils and care leaver forums here.

In March 2022, we published a summary of our engagement with people over 25 years old who have lived experience of children’s social care – this includes birth parents, care experienced parents, kinship carers, adopters, and foster carers. 

We would like to thank everyone who gave up their time to talk to us or to give us written feedback. We’d like to remind you that you can seek support from the NSPCC if you were part of this process – details can be found at the bottom of this page.

Listening to the children’s social care workforce

We have also met with over 2800 children’s social care professionals including social workers, early help practitioners, residential care staff, teachers, health professionals, police officers and those who do voluntary work with children and families. In March 2022, we published a summary of this engagement work.

Our engagement plan included inviting Local Authorities and other organisations that support and employ those working with children and families to complete an expression of interest form which closed in July 2021. We also had a form for individuals which closed in September 2021.

We had a great response to both of these expressions of interest which resulted in a huge number of events which allowed us to hear directly from professionals and organisations

We also partnered with the What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care who ran five polls for social workers to feed in their thoughts to the Review. The What Works Centre reports detailing findings of the polls are available here.

You can see our full workforce engagement plan (published in May 2021) here

Other ways that we listened to views

We spent time, in person, with ten local authorities as part of our local area design process between September and November. This involved undertaking ‘Deep Dive’ visits to these areas to listen to a really broad range of people involved in children’s social care, from those with lived experience to social workers and other frontline staff as well as senior local authority leaders allow the review team to understand how local systems work. 

As well as local authority teams, we met staff from other local services including police, health services, schools, community and third sector services, children in care, care leavers and parents. A summary of what we learned from the visits can be found here.

In addition to events and workshops organised by the review or in partnership with other organisations we commissioned a number of organisations to undertake more involved engagement work on behalf of the review.

  • We partnered with Community Co-Lab to deliver Bridge the Gap where more than 200 people with a range of experiences of children’s social care worked together through a series of events to identify problems and come up with solutions.
  • Coram Voice, through ‘A National Voice’ ambassadors (a group of 24 care experienced young people aged 16-25 from across England) led workshops with Children in Care Councils and other groups who had expressed an interest – more than 300 young people took part.
  • Policy Lab led research with families who are currently involved with children’s social care to offer us a better understanding of the system from the point of view of those most affected by it. An anonymised summary of their findings can be found here and case studies telling some of the participants’ stories here

Support available to those who took part in the review

To support people who engaged with the review, we partnered with the NSPCC helpline and Childline. Everyone (children, adults and families) participating in the Review who wished to access support could do so through these organisations.  

As the review has completed, these dedicated helplines and form of support have now closed. However if you want to discuss any issue in relation to the review, or you have concerns for a child’s welfare, you can still contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or by email at  help@nspcc.org.uk