Children’s Social Care Services face severe challenges. Numbers of looked after children (LAC) are increasing as potential foster placements for these children are decreasing. Health and social outcomes for all LAC continue to be extremely poor and Local Authority funding is significantly constrained. The 2022, independent review of children’s social care emphasised the need for evidence-based alternatives to public care for vulnerable children to improve their health and social outcomes. These alternatives must both offer value and be acceptable to frontline staff and families in need. For these reasons, Children’s Social Care Services are increasingly focusing on interventions for children at the “Edge of Care” and their families aimed at preserving family unity and improving child outcomes cost effectively. Effective commissioning is constrained by the lack of a synthesis of what works and what is acceptable to families and providers. This project has two elements: 1.) A systematic review with quantitative synthesis and cost-effectiveness analysis of evidence on the effectiveness of interventions for children on the Edge of Care to promote family unity and improving child outcomes. 2.) A qualitative interview study with key stakeholders (commissioners, practitioners, and families) on the aims and acceptability of these interventions.
Aims and objectives
1.) To conduct a systematic review of evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of interventions for vulnerable children intended to promote family unity, reduce the need for public care and improve child health and social outcomes.
2.) To synthesise this evidence and conduct an economic analysis to establish evidence of value
3.) To undertake a qualitative inquiry with key stakeholders (providers, commissioners, and families) on the aims and acceptability of these interventions.
4.) To inform commissioning decisions and future research priorities.
This is not a hypothesis testing study
This is a mixed methods study.
The student will acquire skills in systematic reviewing and evidence synthesis (both quantitative and qualitative). They will also acquire skills in economic modelling and cost-effectiveness analysis. They will acquire skills in the collection, analysis and interpretation of qualitative data collected through face-to-face interviews with key informants. A core supervision team consisting of a senior quantitative scientist (with experience of reviews and synthesis) and a senior social scientist (with experience of reviews and synthesis and qualitative inquiry) will support the student. Both core supervisors have also extensive topic specific expertise around effects of childhood adversity, health inequality, and the organisation and effectiveness of children’s social care.
The student will also receive specific methodological support from senior scientists in the ARC West methodological teams around evidence synthesis, economic analysis and behavioural and qualitative science.
Apply for this project
This project will be based in Bristol Medical School - Population Health Sciences.
Please contact [Email Address Removed] for further details on how to apply.