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Better by Design

Project start date: February 2015

We were awarded £1.1m to develop a new approach to supporting adolescents in, and on the edge of, care across the two boroughs of Richmond and Kingston. Better by Design (BBD) offered a different way of working with young people who present particularly challenging behaviours, with the aim to better support adolescents with complex needs remain within a family setting.

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Project Summary


Adolescents, with complex social care needs, are at a particularly high risk of poor outcomes, with families’ resistant to traditional approaches to social work. Traditional interventions are largely ineffectual in engaging, and supporting, challenging adolescents and their families. These interventions lack the flexibility needed to respond to the often disruptive lifestyles of young people, and often place families in unfamiliar environments, making them increasingly likely to disengage from care.

We enacted a range of innovations to better support groups of adolescents across Richmond and Kingston-upon-Thames. The project looked to migrate young people in out-of-borough residential care back to local foster carers, called ‘Innovation Mentors’ trained in ‘Better By Design’ (BBD), via a short stay residential setting where they worked with specially trained ‘Innovation Family Workers’, also trained in BBD. The Innovation Family Workers also worked with young people on the edge of care with the aim of preventing escalation to being taken into care. Finally, a longer planning period enabled systems to be better integrated, with a ‘drip-feed’ approach working to slowly build and develop the system.

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Project contact details

Please contact the organisation for further detail

Project evaluators

Frontier Economics

Ipsos MORI

Project partners

Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames

University of Birmingham

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