Making decisions about children’s social care services, and informing these decisions with research evidence, is a complex process. So we thought it might be helpful to provide some pointers on how the Evidence Store can help you. Some of the things you might want to think about are:
Will an evidence-based intervention work in my area?
You might want to consider how this evidence is relevant to your context. Was an intervention trialled with similar groups of participants to those you would want to work with? Did studies show benefits for this specific group? And was the research carried out in a UK context? If not, it may be less likely that the same outcomes will be replicated in your area and you might want to use more caution.
It may be a good idea to pilot the intervention on a small scale and check that it is achieving the desired outcomes before implementing it more widely.
Is this intervention ineffective or is there just a lack of evidence?
A lack of evidence that something works is not the same thing as strong evidence that it doesn’t work. If an evidence base is at an early stage, it’s possible that not enough research has been carried out yet to work out whether an intervention works or not. Individual summaries in the evidence store will explain the nature of the evidence base for each intervention.
It makes sense to choose well-evidenced interventions where they are available. But where there is an overall lack of evidence on a topic, this might not be an option. Where there is a lack of evidence or a mixed evidence base, it may make sense to go ahead with trying out an intervention if you feel that there is a convincing explanation for how it should work (its mechanisms) and it seems to fit well with your context.
Make sure that you have taken into account existing learning about what might make it more or less likely that the intervention will work in your area, with your chosen target group. Again, it might be a good idea to test the intervention on a small scale and check that it is achieving the desired outcomes before using it more widely.
Do I have the conditions needed for implementation?
We’ve tried to identify the types of conditions and resources that might bring about successful implementation for each intervention included in the Evidence Store. Over time, we hope to add to this information to answer more of your practical questions.
How do I generate my own evidence?
Interventions that have been found to work in one city or part of the world may not work as well when they are used in a new context.
At the What Works Centre, we are currently working on developing a set of tools to help local authorities monitor the effectiveness of new approaches they are implementing in their area.
We hope that over time this will mean that local authorities can share their own learning about what works. Please get in touch with us at email@example.com if you would like to find out more about this work.