Research and evaluation services

An independent evaluation of your service or programme can demonstrate impact and support evidence-informed decision-making.

At Research in Practice we are a leading research and evaluation provider in Children’s and Adults Services, supporting providers in understanding the impact that their services are having. Our evidence-informed approach is central to research and evaluation and we weave research evidence, professional expertise and the views of those with lived experience throughout our evaluations.

We take a mixed method approach to evaluations, incorporating evidence collection techniques. This includes interviews, focus groups, observations, case studies, surveys and statistical analysis of administrative data, to generate robust evidence around the impact of your service or programme. We will work collaboratively with you to build the parameters of the evaluation, often leaving a legacy of tools and skills to support future internal monitoring and evaluation practice. As well as service evaluations, we can also support with:

  • Consultancy support for planning your own evaluation.
  • Workshops to build in-house capacity in research methods.
  • Developing of a ‘Theory of Change’ or ‘Monitoring and Evaluation Framework’.
  • Analysis and interpretation of service level or administrative data.
  • Creation of tailored tools to support long-term monitoring of your impact.

Our research projects and evaluations have involved children and young people, families, adults and carers, and professionals across the social care sector. We have supported local authorities, charities and third sector organisations and have conducted research in local communities, alongside service providers and in prisons.

Services we've worked with 

Case study - Safer Devon Partnership: Devon

Safer Devon piloted three whole family support services for domestic abuse recovery. Families received up to 12 months of keyworker support alongside therapeutic and family relationship focused interventions. We conducted an independent evaluation of the programme, working with the families and services to explore the impact of the support for victim-survivor parents and their children.

Case study - Experiences of challenging adult social care decisions 

We conducted research to inform the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) inquiry into challenging decisions about adult social care in England and Wales. Our evaluation report provides information about people’s experiences of challenging, or attempting to challenge, decisions about their adult social care or support. We carried out semi-structured interviews to identify participants’ stories and explore themes relating to decision-making, challenge and outcomes. 

Case study – Circles South West 

We have worked with Circles South West (CSW) to develop a set of questionnaires for participants of Inform Plus. The program provides an 11-week course aiming to prevent re-offending among men convicted of offences relating to indecent images of children. The research captures how participants changed as a result of the course with respect to two risk factors for and one protective factor against internet re-offending.

Case study – Practice education in England 

As part of a larger research project, led by the University of East Anglia and commissioned by Social Work England, Research in Practice conducted a number of large focus group discussions with Practice Educators to explore their motivations to become practice educators and the motivations to continue in the role. Feedback on the future development of the role, and key messages were fed back as part of this consultation project.

Case study – Baby and Me 

We conducted a mixed methods evaluation of the Baby and Me service between May 2020 and July 2022. This innovative service works with parents at risk of having a baby removed at birth, providing trauma-informed intensive support working alongside health and social care colleagues. 

Case study – Pan Bedfordshire Family Drug and Alcohol Court 

We evaluated Pan Bedfordshire’s Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC) with a mixed-method evaluation. This used a combined process evaluation of the FDAC court process and service provision with an impact and outcome evaluation of the FDAC approach, including comparison with standard proceedings. 

Case study - Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse 

We led on the evaluation of the Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse (the CSA Centre), in partnership with the University of Bedfordshire. The centre is funded by the Home Office and operated by Barnardo’s, and aims to gather the best evidence on child sexual abuse to inform and improve policy and practice in this area. The multi-phase evaluation involved developing in-depth case studies of key strands of work, evaluating events feedback, outputs, and analysing monitoring data. It has also included the development of a detailed ‘Theory of Change’ for the centre, which has become embedded in their work.

The evaluation has now finished and findings presented to the CSA Centre’s Evaluation Reference Group and Home Office, to support with review of the CSA Centre as it moves into the next phase of its work.

Case study - Department for Education Innovation Programme: Hackney 

We have partnered with the University of Sussex to evaluate innovative programmes of work in local authorities as part of the DfE Innovation Programme. This programme has now mostly completed, and evaluation findings are supporting assessment of the second wave of DfE Innovation Funding. Research in Practice’s involvement has included longitudinal interviewing with women being supported by Pause across the country and the professionals working with them; focus groups with young people in schools and youth clubs and analysis of case files in Hackney, where the local authority has been developing a contextual safeguarding approach; and analysis of local and national data to support the evaluation of both programmes.

Case study - Department for Education Innovation Programme: Pause 

We are an evaluator for the Department for Education Innovation Programme (Wave 2), in partnership with the University of Sussex, and are evaluating two projects as part of this funding.

The Pause project received funding to extend the number of sites using the Pause approach to reducing the number of women who have multiple children removed from their care. Pause work intensively with women who have previously had children removed from their care and aim to support them in changing their circumstances so that future removals are prevented. The evaluation involves longitudinal research to explore how Pause has been established in multiple sites across England, including interviews with practitioners and women who have been supported, as well as a wider analysis of children's services data in Pause sites and comparator areas.

Case study - Gig Buddies 

Stay Up Late’s 'Gig Buddies in a Box' project provides support and guidance to organisations who want to establish a Gig Buddies service in their area. We conducted an independent evaluation of the project, and this involved interviewing representatives from the partner organisations who have taken up this offer of support from Stay Up Late. We made recommendations aimed at continuing successes of the project, and addressing some of the challenges that partners had reported.