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Joining forces with What Works for Children's Social Care: How the decision to merge puts us all on a strong footing


7 Jul 2022

Jenny Coles, chair of trustees at What Works for Children's Social Care, and Professor Nick Pearce, chair of trustees at EIF, share their thoughts on the boards' decision to merge organisations to form a new what works centre on children and families, covering both early intervention and children’s social care.

As some of you already know, the boards at Early Intervention Foundation and What Works for Children’s Social Care have been in discussions in recent months about the exciting possibility of bringing our two organisations together. We were pleased to see this idea supported in the recommendations of the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care, which highlighted the benefits of closer working between What Works centres and suggested our two organisations should merge. With the guidance and drive of our respective boards, and support from our partners in government, the moment is right to take this confident step forward together.

There is already considerable shared territory in terms of the work we do to generate evidence and support policy and practice – seen already in some of the joint work our organisations have done. And changes in local systems over recent years only increase the need for joined-up research and evidence across early intervention and children’s social care.

There are many positives to bringing the organisations together. Perhaps the most notable benefit is that joining forces will enable us to scale up the ambition and impact of our work. Our new centre will have the capacity and expertise required to address evidence gaps across a broader, more holistic view of interventions and support for children and families. The evidence shows the value of providing ‘wrap-around’ support that can address a family’s challenges over time with coordinated support from multiple agencies. As a single organisation, we will be better placed to support the direction of travel following the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care and the ambitions to bring together and strengthen direct support available to families across the early help and social work systems. Our merged organisation will be able to support the reforms ahead and help create a system that is both evidence-based and evidence-generating.

In joining forces, we will bring the best of EIF and WWCSC to the new organisation, building on the strong work that both centres have delivered since their inception: conducting high-quality research, understanding the sector, and connecting the dots between national policy and local delivery. In our time at the respective organisations, we have seen rigorous, considered research conducted to better understand the problems and challenges that affect the lives of children and families, and what works in creating policies and services to tackle these problems. This is about increasing our capacity and combining our expertise and experience to provide an outstanding service to policymakers, service leaders and practitioners who can turn evidence into action – all through a single organisational front door.

We share a firm expectation that early intervention and children’s social care will both be front and centre in the mission, priorities and objectives of the new organisation as its scope is defined over the months ahead. We agree that continuing to champion, inform and support the role of effective early intervention will be critical to the success and impact of the new centre. Early intervention runs through every discussion between EIF and WWCSC, and with our partners in government, and its importance is recognised by everyone who has a stake in shaping our new organisation.

Equally, the merged organisation will maintain a strong focus on how best to improve outcomes for children with a social worker. We believe that our future includes even greater and stronger evidence than we have provided before, and that this merger will help us better support children and young people with evidence on what works for them – whenever they need it.

Work is underway to explore how we bring the best of both organisations together. Merging two established organisations will take time and will inevitably lead to changes – including a new name! The next step is to recruit a new and independent Executive Chair to lead the process and build the profile of the new centre. We continue to be committed to our mission and will remain members of the board for the new organisation, and our busy teams will continue to deliver a range of projects as planned over coming months. We hope you will join us in welcoming the next chapter and the exciting opportunities that it brings.

About the author

Prof Nick Pearce

Nick is chair of trustees at EIF.