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Evaluation shows impact of Catch22’s Project Crewe

The Department for Education's has published their evaluation on Catch22's children in need service, Project Crewe.

07 July 2017

In 2015, Catch22 and Cheshire East Council were awarded Department for Education (DfE) Innovation Programme funding to test a different approach to engaging children in need and their families. Project Crewe created individually tailored and intensive interventions for children, young people and their families. The project aimed to improve children’s outcomes and reduce repeat referrals and escalations to child protection and the care system.

This innovative staffing and delivery model for social care was tested using a randomised controlled trial (RCT), in which young people are assigned either to receive the Project Crewe working model (the “treatment” group), or the business-as-usual local authority service (the “control” group). Evaluated by the Behavioural Insights Team, The Department for Education has today released their RCT evaluation report showing Project Crewe to have promising indications of impact.

The results of this evaluation have important implications for the future of interventions in social care. Project Crewe is one of the first known successful randomised controlled trials to be conducted in social care in the United Kingdom and highlights the potential for the more intensive, personalised approach offered by Project Crewe to offer significant benefits to families, communities and local authorities.

The evaluation found that the Project Crewe approach has promising indications of efficacy in closing cases, particularly for families with previous history of social care support. The evaluation suggested that this may be due to Project Crewe’s staff increasing the protective factors around the families, with those protective factors previously being found to correlate with a reduction in likelihood of future harm. It went on to conclude that the staffing model that included staff and volunteers from diverse backgrounds fostered a culture of collaboration and ensured families felt supported. The Solutions Focused Approach was valued by Project Crewe families, they felt listened to and felt empowered by having ownership over their challenges. Additionally, the Project Crewe model has created space for social workers to tackle more complex child protection cases.

Following Project Crewe’s successful pilot, Catch22’s innovative children’s social care model has received further funding from Cheshire East. Catch22’s success in reducing the number of children in need in Crewe has led to the approach continuing in Crewe and being replicated with a second team based in Macclesfield. In addition, Coventry has recently received DfE Innovation funding to replicate the model with Catch22. The service has been renamed FACT22 (Families Achieving Change Together).

Chris Wright, Chief Executive of Catch22, commented:

“The results coming today from Project Crewe should mark a sea change in the way we approach and design social work interventions. The evaluation proves conclusively that it’s the quality of the relationship that matters to a young person, not the title of the person delivering the intervention. We’re very proud of the outcomes of the work, and look forward to sharing our learning to continue reducing the number of children in care.”

Robert Goodwill, Minister for Children and Families, said:

“Through the Innovation Programme, we continue to fund exciting and pioneering projects that look to shake-up our traditional approach to social care. Together they proffer a broad and balanced portfolio which both test new innovations, and scale and spread those that have been successful in Round One of the programme. I am delighted that we have supported this project, and look forward to continuing to hear about its great work in the future.”

Project Crewe family member’s feedback:

“I’m pleased you’re helping me and not just telling me what to do.”

Nigel Moorhouse, Director of Children’s Social Care at Cheshire East Council said:  

“We have seen the impact of Project Crewe both in supporting children and their parents but also in freeing up social workers. The positive results have given us the confidence to both continue to fund the service in Crewe and to replicate the approach in Macclesfield to meet demand there.”

Further information