Skip to main content

Joint evaluation of the Dorset children's locality model, Children Thrive

  • Situation and Task

  • What was the impact?

  • Key Success Factors

  • Situation and Task

  • Situation and Task

    In early 2023 IPC was asked to become an evaluation partner for Dorset Council. The council were already part of IPC's Academic Partnership network, affording them exclusive access to learning events and support days.

    The aim of the evaluation was to explore how well the locality-based Dorset Children Thrive model was meeting the needs of children and families. The model was introduced in September 2020 during the pandemic, and co-located and integrated Dorset Council children’s services in six locality areas.

    The council has recently been selected as one of only three pathfinders nationally to introduce multi-disciplinary family help services, providing intensive, effective support that is tailored to the needs of children and families under the Families First for Children, awarded in late 2023.

    Key areas explored included:

    • Consistency of response from children’s services
    • Number of lead workers for each family
    • The quality of the strengths-based direct work offered to children and families
    • Line of sight from senior managers through supervision, appraisal and other management structures
    • Continuous professional development for staff
    • Collection of meaningful feedback from children and families and continuous improvement.

    IPC’s intensive methodology included:

    • Case file sampling of over 100 children’s records
    • Confidential interviews with families
    • Interviews with more than 30 council staff and partners (e.g. health) and seven schools to explore opportunities for wider multi-disciplinary working
    • Review of management information and benchmarking key performance indicators with statistical neighbouring authorities
    • Regular partnership contact between IPC and the council to ensure that findings were sense checked for validity.

    We delivered a thorough, deeply-evidenced project over 11 months in partnership with Dorset Council. This was very timely as it coincided with their selection as one of only three national pathfinder areas for Families First for Children.

  • What was the impact?

  • What was the impact?

    The joint evaluation supports the future development of the locality-based Children Thrive model and aligns with areas for development under the Families First for Children pathfinder. IPC’s final report will be shared with Ofsted prior to the next inspection as evidence of independent evaluation of Dorset Councils children’s services.

    Theresa Leavy, Executive Director of People - Children said:

    “IPC’s evaluation was a really practical way to inform the development of our next phase of children’s services, Families First for Children. The evaluation was pursued with integrity and understanding from the beginning. The findings, many of which are successes worthy of celebration, were delivered back to Dorset with kindness and these resonated with us.”

  • Key Success Factors

  • Key Success Factors

    Throughout the evaluation, IPC engaged with families and professionals across early help and social work services to explore the effectiveness of the locality model in Dorset and make practical recommendations. As a result:

    • IPC co-produced the Theory of Change with directors, senior managers and locality managers, exploring key areas of interest and concern in Dorset that could impact practice
    • Individual confidential interviews with staff, partners and schools were arranged virtually by IPC at times to suit them, which promoted extensive engagement in the project from a wide-range of stakeholders
    • IPC delivered findings face-to-face to senior leaders, and later with a wider group of managers to ensure questions could be asked and successes and areas for development could be conveyed to the workforce with authenticity.

    Successes and reflections:

    The purpose of the evaluation was to assess both good practice and areas for development as Dorset moves forward with its development of children’s services.

    IPC was happy to extend the duration of the evaluation to include key stakeholders within education so that their views were reflected. This turned out to be a key part of the process with regard to meeting the needs of those with Special Educational Needs effectively.

    We believe that the depth of evidence made available to IPC for review by Dorset Council meant that we gained a clear understanding of strengths and areas for development for child-centred outcome-focused services.

Related News

Infected Blood Inquiry

Infected Blood Inquiry

21/05/2024

IPC Visiting Research Fellow, Dr Melanie Henwood, addresses the key findings of the Infected Blood Inquiry

Read More
Alumni webinar insights - Investing in In-house Children's Residential Homes

Alumni webinar insights - Investing in In-house Children's Residential Homes

20/03/2024

Alumni webinar inputs from Oxfordshire County Council, Somerset Council and attendees

Read More

Related Services

Applied Research and Evaluation

Applied Research and Evaluation

We provide robust support to our clients by conducting comprehensive reviews and evaluations, identifying key strengths and opportunities for growth.

Read More
Academic Partnership

Academic Partnership

Our programme offers bespoke support. Benefits include personalised guidance from a dedicated consultant, plus complimentary access to our events, and discounted courses.

Read More