By focusing on outcomes for children, our refreshed Quality Assurance and Impact framework is helping us to learn more about the impact of our work. And importantly, it identifies what we can do to improve our practice so that we can provide an outstanding service to children and young people.
Launched in February 2016, the new framework goes beyond traditional models of quality assurance which focus largely on practitioners’ compliance with policy – such as whether a child’s case plan was up to date, or the quality of case recording. The new framework continues to measure adherence to important policy areas but vitally, it also assesses the quality of each case against four child-focused outcomes, setting out good practice. These look at the extent to which the child is:
Safe – whether risk has been identified, analysed and managed effectively throughout the proceedings; whether the child is safe and feels safe
Heard – evidence that the child has been put at the centre of the case and that their lived experience is understood; that the practitioner’s recommendations to court have supported the best outcome for the child at the current stage of their life
Where casework is assessed as Outstanding there will be evidence that both compliance and impact have been high, leading to an outstanding outcome for the child. At Cafcass we aim for all cases, assessed locally by our Practice Supervisors (PSs) and Service Managers (SMs), to be rated as Good or Outstanding (the other grades are Met or Requires Improvement).
Audits show we have already increased the quantum of Good and Outstanding casework since our 2014 Ofsted inspection which rated us Good with Outstanding leadership. A strong driver has been the implementation of our Evidence Informed Practice Tools. The tools are helping practitioners improve their analytical reporting so that the impact of situations or behaviours on the child, and the evidence of this, is clearly portrayed to the court.
By assessing work in relation to its impact on a child’s outcomes, our managers are able to uncover important learning points and identify strengths that make the most difference to children. This can be used to enhance individual professional development and feeds into wider organisational learning.
When quality assuring their team’s work, our Practice Supervisors and Service Managers are encouraged to identify three key learning points under each outcome domain for the practitioner to focus on in future practice. The criteria against which work is assessed is focused and succinct so that managers and practitioners can easily pinpoint areas for improvement.
Learning points are electronically collated in the practitioner’s individual learning log, making it easy for them and their managers to review and measure improvement over a fixed period of time. One of our practitioners said that specific feedback from the tool helped her to transform her report-writing from a descriptive narration to analytical writing.
Sarah Parsons, Cafcass Principal Social Worker and Assistant Director, says, “Since the introduction of the new framework we have collated learning across teams which centres on how improvements to our work can better support children.
“Where practice gaps exist, we are focusing on addressing them in group supervision sessions and through our national Learning and Development programme. We are also able to identify and enhance the strengths in our service, such as our representation of the child‘s voice in proceedi ngs.”
Read about the other areas of our service we have improved for children in our Quality Account.
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