chevron icon Twitter logo Facebook logo LinkedIn logo YouTube logo download icon link icon audio icon quote icon posted icon clock icon author icon arrow icon arrow icon plus icon Search icon location icon location icon document icon menu icon plus-alt
Preventative Spending in Children’s Social Care – Lessons from Norfolk’s 100,000 Care Days Avoided

Engaging with Evidence is a series of interactive online convenings hosted by the Government Outcomes Lab (GO Lab) and designed to encourage a greater understanding of the latest evidence on the use of cross-sector partnerships focused on outcomes. The sessions are hosted monthly, and attract a diverse range of practitioners from different sectors, as well as researcher from across the world.  

Building independent, high-quality evidence 

At the GO Lab, we believe in the importance of building independent, high-quality evidence and disseminating it effectively to inform policy decisions and improve practice on the ground. As new evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches is starting to emerge, we hope that with this series of online convenings we can continue to bridge the gap between evidence and practice, and help foster real dialogue between policymakers, practitioners and researchers in an honest, transparent and constructive way. Both veterans and explorers interested in better understanding the latest evidence around the use of outcomes-based approaches are welcome to join these sessions.  

Throughout 2023, Engaging with Evidence will offer an open platform for policymakers, practitioners and researchers around the world to engage with key findings from the latest research and evaluation work in the field. They will have the opportunity to discuss new evidence directly with the authors of research and evaluation studies, hear the practical insights of the partners involved in the development and implementation of the projects under discussion, and reflect on the relevance of the evidence to their own work.  

What to expect

Each session lasts 90 minutes and features contributions from a diverse panel of experts, as well as ample time for contributions and questions from all participants. Discussions at each session are grounded in the findings of a recent evaluation or research study, with additional practical insights brought in by stakeholders directly involved in the work or project under discussion. Each session follows a set format:  

  1. Setting the context & presentation of the evaluation/ research findings
  2. Discussion with the panel and audience questions
  3. Closing remarks 

If you’d like to suggest a topic or highlight a recent study that you’d like to see discussed on a future session, please contact our moderator Srinithya Nagarajan

Session recording

Session Recording

Listen to the audio recording of the session.

Session overview

Helping families in difficulty before they reach full-blown crisis is good for children's outcomes and good for the public purse. But the system of prevention is not working well enough, and more and more children are going into care.

This is one of the main findings of the MacAlister Care Review. The review recommends an investment of £2billion for "family help", which would combine existing early help provision with statutory "Child in Need" services. Families would build a more consistent relationship with care agencies over time, with a focus on support rather than assessment. Future demand on more intensive forms of care could be drastically reduced. The government's response commits to some of these recommendations, but two questions remain:

  1. How should a locally-based wrap-around family help offer, however it was funded, be implemented?
  2. Without new central government funding, where else could the money come from? Is there a way to unlock the required upfront investment locally, reducing future demand on care placements?

The session was chaired by Nigel Ball, Executive Director at the GO Lab. To begin the discussion, we heard from the Stronger Families Norfolk Social Impact Bond (SIB), a project commissioned under UK’s Life Chances Fund. The programme, set up in 2019, uses Functional Family Therapy for Child Welfare to improve communication and supportiveness between and young people and their parents. We delved into the uniqueness of the project’s intervention for supporting families to stay together more than 100,000 days so far, and explored the lessons coming out of the project and how these might be applied to children's commissioning elsewhere in the country. The focus on outcomes instead of inputs, the flexibility in delivery, and the relational elements of the partnership are likely to be key areas of focus for the discussion.


Josh MacAlister

Josh is the Executive Chair merging together the Early Intervention Foundation and What Works for Children's Social Care together to create a powerful new evidence organisation for children and families. He is also Co-founder and Chair of SHiFT.

A former teacher, Josh founded the charity Frontline in 2013 and led the organisation for eight years before leaving this role to chair the government commissioned independent review of children’s social care. Josh led the review with a focus on hearing from those with lived experience of and thinking afresh about how we support children to grow up with safety, stability and love. The review concluded in May 2022 and set out a radical plan to reset children’s social care so that it backs those who love and care for children- families, communities and then the care system itself.

Josh lives in Cumbria with his husband and two dogs and is a rookie member of a local Mountain Rescue Team.

Sarah Cubitt

Sarah is the Commissioning and service development manager for the Children's Services alternatives to care programme. She currently manage the Stronger Families programme, which is a pay by result contract working with families needing therapy and ensuring children remain in the family home, avoiding care. She has 10 years of experience working as a manager within Children’s Services in numerous operational roles before moving to Commissioning in January 2022.

Dr Tom Jefford

Tom is the joint CEO of Family Psychology Mutual, an employee-owned social enterprise with a specialism in delivery of systemic family interventions. Tom worked for Cambridgeshire County Council for 24 years running services for children and adolescents. He was previously a Go Lab Fellow and holds a doctorate in health and social care.

Claudia Cheung

Claudia is the Programme Director for Stronger Families at Bridges Outcomes Partnerships. Stronger Families provides access to a therapeutic intervention (Functional Family Therapy) for young people and families in Norfolk and Suffolk. The role is responsible for ensuring the Social Outcomes Contracts achieve their stated goals and objectives – supporting families to stay together, by working closely in partnership with Delivery Partner and Local Authority stakeholders.

Before joining the BOP team, she was the Data and Impact Manager for a London-based charity delivering conflict management training to young people. Previously, she was a strategy consultant in a Social Innovation consulting firm in Singapore and has worked for UNDP China.

Kate Dexter

Kate is the Assistant Director responsible for Social Work practice in Norfolk’s Children’s Services.  Kate is a qualified social worker and systemic practitioner who has worked in Children’s Social Care for more than 20 years.  Kate oversees the services who refer to Stronger Families and is passionate about keeping families together wherever it is safe to do so, focusing on supporting families in reparative work to build positive relationships, provide safe and effective care for children and to develop the skills to meet each others’ needs.

Share this event