The Search for Meaningful Measures in Children’s Services

Ever since the Maria Colwell inquiry it has been evident that Children’s Services needs to deliver consistent quality services founded in good process and practice guidance. This goal has largely been pursued through procedural means and by creating an increasing set of metrics designed to quantify what good looks like.

As part of Servelec’s Talking Tuesdays event series, co-creator of the Signs of Safety approach to child protection casework and a third of Munro, Turnell and Murphy Child Protection Consulting - Dr Andrew Turnell, was invited to host a session for local authorities based on the search for meaningful measures in Children’s Services.

The Signs of Safety approach, an innovative strengths-based, safety-organised approach to child protection casework, was created in Western Australia by Andrew Turnell and Steve Edwards. They worked with over 150 front-line statutory practitioners and based it on what those practitioners know works well with difficult cases. The model has been attracting international attention and is increasingly used in jurisdictions in North America, Europe and Australasia.

Signs of Safety Whole-system Implementation and Transformation Centred on the Practice

At the Talking Tuesdays event, Dr Turnell led the conversation drawing on the meaningful measures agenda highlighting the problems identified in human services. “We are not producing widgets, we are seeking outcome changes in intimate human relationships; it is therefore challenging to arrive at a set of measures that are reliable indicators of increased child wellbeing and safety.”

During the forum, attendees from a range of local authorities discussed their experiences and views of approaching metrics in Children’s Services. Some key points from the discussions include:

  • defining what is a meaningful measure in Children’s Services and what counts;
  • what we do with what we count is what matters;
  • organisational culture plays a crucial role in change – it requires transformational thinking (as well using the right systems and approach);
  • turning organisations into a continuous learning (and not training) environment creates change – this needs to be part of the organisational culture;
  • change has to start everywhere, at all levels – and not just driven by legislation.

Pippa Young, Children’s Strategy Lead at Servelec Corelogic, said “We are thrilled to have Dr Andrew Turnell host one of our Talking Tuesdays sessions; the work undertaken by Dr Turnell and his team to help transform children’s services is truly inspiring.

Working in collaboration with Resolutions Consultancy, we are developing a Signs of Safety best practice configuration in our case management solution, Mosaic. This will support a full implementation of the approach across Children’s Services; the configuration will include recording tools for practitioners and support managers in their oversight and decision making in cases.”

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Division: Servelec HSC