Five-year University of Oxford study will look at how to improve the lives of children and families

Katy Morton
Thursday, October 14, 2021

A project to improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children and families by better understanding their needs and experiences has been awarded £2.8 million by the Nuffield Foundation.

The focus of the project will be on families who need extra support from local authority children’s services PHOTO Adobe Stock
The focus of the project will be on families who need extra support from local authority children’s services PHOTO Adobe Stock

Over the next five years, Professor Leon Feinstein, director of the Rees Centre at the University of Oxford, will lead the research project – a collaboration between local authorities and universities -  to transform how information about and from children and families is gathered, interpreted and used in child and family social policy at local and national level.

The focus of the project will be on children and families who need additional support from local authority children’s services, including those who are referred to children’s social care services, younger children who need help to have a good start at school and children in care and young people leaving care.

Its aim is to ensure children’s and families’ voices, and the views of practitioners, are heard and used to improve practice, services and policy.

Five local authorities – Greater Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, North Yorkshire and Hampshire - will work with academics from Oxford University, the University of Sussex, the London School of Economics and Political Science, University College London and Manchester Metropolitan University to understand how to better use data, input from children and families and information from practitioners to improve services.

Findings from the project will be shared with all those working with children and families, through a series of workshops, webinars and podcasts.

A Learning Network, run by Research in Practice – which supports professionals within the children and families, young people and adults’ sectors, will bring together 20 local authorities to test out the findings and to develop learning materials to support better information use across England.

Professor Leon Feinstein, principal investigator and director of the Rees Centre at Oxford University (pictured), said, ‘We are thrilled to be leading a project with such a strong and committed group of local authorities, academics, and leaders in social policy. The Nuffield Foundation has provided us with a tremendous opportunity to bring evidence into policy and practice in a new way and to really support improvement to the lives and experiences of children and families. If we get this right, we can make sure data and information are used for and with people, rather than, as so often is the case, for and by Government.’

Tim Gardam, chief executive of the Nuffield Foundation, added, ‘This project stood out for its originality and intent to work closely on the ground with local government and practitioners, as well as children and families. By transforming the quality and use of information and data by local authorities, this project has real potential to reduce inequalities and improve the lives of the most disadvantaged children and their families.’

 

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