Establishing Social Work Practices in England: The Early Evidence

Stanley, Nicky orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7644-1625, Austerberry, Helen, Bilson, Andy orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-1243-2663, Farrelly, Nicola, Hargreaves, Katrina, Hussein, Shereen, Ingold, Anne, Manthorpe, Jill, Ridley, Julie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0879-308X et al (2012) Establishing Social Work Practices in England: The Early Evidence. The British Journal of Social Work . pp. 1-17. ISSN 0045-3102

[thumbnail of Author's Pre -Print]
PDF (Author's Pre -Print) - Submitted Version

Official URL:


Social Work Practices (SWPs) were established in England in 2009 to deliver social work services to looked after children and care leavers. The introduction of independent social work-led organisations generated controversy focused on issues such as the privatisation of children's services and social workers' conditions of employment. This paper reports early findings from the evaluation of four of these pilots, drawing on interviews with children and young people, staff, and local authority and national stakeholders. The SWPs assumed a variety of organisational forms. The procurement process was demanding, with protracted negotiations over matters such as budgetary control and providing a round-the-clock service. Start-up was facilitated by an established relationship between the SWP provider and the local authority. Once operational, SWPs continued to rely on local authorities for various functions; in most cases, local authorities retained control of placement budgets. Levels of consultation and choice offered to children and young people regarding the move to an SWP varied considerably. Children's understanding about SWPs was generally low except in the pilot where most children retained their original social worker. These early findings show some dilution of the original SWP model, while the pilots' diversity allows the benefits of particular models to emerge.

Repository Staff Only: item control page