Children’s Information: Improving lives through better listening and better data

Lots of information is collected about the children and families involved with children’s services but this information is not always used to best meet the needs and interests of children, young people and families. This project will improve the way that information about and from children, young people and families is used in local and national Government. It will shape the support and services provided to meet and respond to the diverse needs of children, young people and families.

The project aims to improve understanding of how children’s information, including but not limited to statistical data, might best be collected, collated, interpreted and used. Core to this is to ensure that diverse voices, including those of children, young people, families and practitioners, are heard more clearly within children’s information and are listened to, and that these voices influence how the information is gathered, shared, processed and used. This requires not only sound collection, collation, interpretation and analysis of information, but also a clear ethical foundation and fit for purpose use of information. The project will examine whether and how these improvements can inform local authority children’s services, leading to reduced inequalities, greater cost effectiveness, and better outcomes for the children, young people and families that they serve.

The project supported by the Nuffield Foundation is an innovative collaboration involving two County Councils (North Yorkshire and Hampshire), two Borough Councils (Oldham and Rochdale, working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority), five universities and Research in Practice. The researchers and local authorities will work closely together, enabling collaboration and co-production between children, young people, parents and carers, practitioners, managers, data analysts, service leaders and policymakers to understand and shape how information can be used ethically and effectively. The focus in Hampshire will be on children and families needing additional support from Early Help and in North Yorkshire for young people leaving care. In Oldham and Rochdale the work is about targeted and universal early years services with a particular focus on communication, speech and language in Oldham and on the role of the Family Hub in Rochdale.

A Learning Network run by Research in Practice will bring together 20 other local authorities to test the findings in relation to their experience and insight and co-produce guides and other learning materials to improve the quality and use of children’s services data in England and ultimately to address inequalities and improve outcomes and experiences.


Professor Leon Feinstein – Director of Rees Centre, Professor of Education and Children’s Social Care
Dr Lisa Holmes – Professor in Applied Social Science (Social Work and Social Care)
School of Education and Social Work at University of Sussex
Dez Holmes – Director of Research in Practice
Professor Elaine Sharland – Professor of Social Work Research (Social Work and Social Care)
School of Education and Social Work at University of Sussex
Dr Polly Vizard – Associate Director and Associate Professorial Research Fellow, CASE at LSE


Visit the project website to discover more.

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