“Developing the Evidence Base for Innovation in Social Care for Children and Families Affected by Domestic Abuse” (CAFADA) is a four year research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

WHY DO WE NEED THIS STUDY? Children and young people who live with domestic abuse are at risk of a range of negative mental health, educational and social outcomes. Despite increasing recognition in recent years of the impact of domestic abuse, we lack enough evidence of how to improve outcomes for children.

Close up of child’s hands, drawing.

Children young people and their parents or carers tell us that there are too few good services to help children recover after domestic abuse. They report that some services don’t listen enough to children , that some services (especially criminal justice and social care) do not listen enough to children and young people and their parents / carers, and that there needs to be better communication between services.

Although it is recognised that domestic abuse is a major public policy concern, there is wide variation in what services children can access in different local authorities.

Those who commission services tell us that there is not enough good evidence of what works in supporting children who have experienced domestic abuse.

CAFADA addresses this gap by assessing promising innovations in social care in social work, police and criminal justice, and in domestic abuse and children’s organisations in Scotland and England.

A4 paper spread over a desk, with highlighter pens. The paper is full of highlighted text.

WHAT WILL THE STUDY INVOLVE? We will evaluate the client, service and implementation outcomes of 7 innovations: Safe and Together, which aims to improve social work responses to families who experience domestic abuse; Operation Encompass aims to ensure support to children after police have been called to a DA incident; an innovation to support children who want to be involved in Domestic Homicide Reviews after a loved one has died because of DA; and 4 interventions to support mothers and children or babies recovering from DA.

We will work with children and carers through co-production groups to design, deliver and share our research.

In each setting we will talk to children and young people, and their parents / carers about their experience of the service, and whether they felt it helped them. We will use questionnaires to assess whether the services positively impacted their wellbeing and feeling of safety. We will also talk to professionals who deliver the service, managers and other professionals, to explore what has worked well, what has worked less well, how other
organisations could adapt and use the same kind of intervention.

In addition, we will analyse routinely collected anonymous service data (like referral patterns, what happens to families after the service, whether they drop out, etc) to see if there is evidence that services have been improved because of the innovation. We will share what we learn with policy makers, practitioners and service managers.

Lightbulb, held up against a sunlit cloud

Our work will help us to understand what works to support children who experience DA, but will also offer insights into how social care innovation can be supported, and how it can be developed in a way that involves children and carers in service design, delivery and evaluation.

WHO WILL BENEFIT? By finding out what works, we will improve services and outcomes for children and carers affected
by DA. People who make policy and commission services will be better informed about the effectiveness of each innovation,
and will also understand better how innovation can be supported in social care. Our project will also help to build the social care work force, with skills in supporting children affected by DA, and skills to work with children and carers to develop, deliver and evaluate innovative services in social care.

Theme by the University of Stirling