research in practice explain why it is involved in the Care Inquiry
research in practice is very proud to be part of the Care Inquiry. We’ve worked for over 16 years to support the children’s sector to access and apply evidence in order to achieve the best possible outcomes for children, young people and families; we know that achieving permanence for children who cannot live with their birth parents is a challenging issue for the sector and are absolutely delighted to be involved in this important endeavour.
research in practice is aware that no matter how hard professionals and services try to be evidence-informed in their work with children, sometimes the wider context in which they operate make applying the evidence more difficult than we would all want it to be.
Achieving permanence is just such a challenging area. The policy arena has shifted over recent years, and it’s obviously a turbulent time currently; financial constraints can impede our ability to offer differentiated support to individual children; and on top of that the system itself can sometimes seem to be getting in the way of enabling children to enjoy a stable upbringing and sense of belonging.
That’s one of the reasons why the Care Inquiry is so exciting, and why it holds such promise. It aims to collate the evidence of what is known to be effective in achieving permanence not simply to produce another report, but to proactively influence central government in order to ensure the policy context in which the sector operates is evidence-informed and child-centred. This is a chance to support significant and long-lasting change – rather than churn out a document that just sits and gathers dust.
When we talk about evidence-informed practice, at research in practice we mean the triangulation of research evidence and tacit knowledge (or practice wisdom) and the experiences of service users. The Care Inquiry very much reflects this approach; evidence will be gathered from research, from the sector itself, and from the lived experience of those involved in the care system. The respect placed on these different sources of evidence is vitally important to us at research in practice. In joining the consortium we needed to feel it would operate from a shared value base, and it really does.
To be working with this group of leading charities, each of whom bring their own expertise and perspective, is a huge privilege. The debate has been rich and engaging – and not always easy! The sense of shared purpose is invigorating. It is terrific to be involved in something that matters so much to our customers, and to the children and families they serve – supporting the use of evidence to tackle difficult but important issues like this is precisely what research in practice is all about.
By Dez Holmes, director of research in practice