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The 'Step Change' evaluation: social care interventions for young people in and on the edge of care

Researchers: Co-leads: Dr Sarah Blower (IEE) Jo Dixon (SPSW)
Academic consultants: Professors Nina Biehal (SPSW) and Tracey Bywater (IEE)
Funder: Action for Children
Duration: May 2015 to March 2016

This is a joint study between the Institute for Effective Education (IEE) and Department of Social Policy and Social Work (SPSW) being co-led by Dr Sarah Blower and Jo Dixon.


The evaluation will explore the implementation and impact of social care interventions for young people in and on the edge of care across three London Boroughs.  The interventions include three evidence based practice (EBP) models:

  • Multisystemic Therapy (MST) and Functional Family Therapy (FFT) for vulnerable adolescents and families who are at risk of family breakdown.
  • Treatment Foster Care (TFCO) offering time limited specialist foster care support for young people in and on the edge of care.  


The evaluation involves three work streams:

  • a process component to understand how the three EBPs are implemented and operationalised and how they fit together across the three participating local authorities
  • an outcomes analysis to understand who the EBPs are working with and the early progress of those young people and families receiving the intervention
  • an economic component to explore the cost effectiveness of the programmes. 

The research will be carried out using qualitative and quantitative research methods and will incorporate an economic component. We will use a participatory approach to the research. This will include involving care-experienced young people as research advisors, to contribute to the design of interview schedules and interpretation and dissemination of findings.


Action for Children / Step Change Final Evaluation Report -

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Associated Research   

The Care Placements Evaluation: evaluation of Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care in England (MTFCE) 

Compared the  outcomes for two groups of young people with complex needs aged 11-16 - some who experienced MTFCE and others who had traditional care.


Evaluation of the Youth Justice Board's Intensive Fostering Scheme

What was the effectiveness of intensive fostering in preventing re-conviction?