The programme was designed to bring greater coherence and confidence to social work practice, and aimed at embedding a new culture based on systems thinking, reducing the number of re-referrals of family cases and reducing the number of children in care.
Focus on Practice is a joint initiative between the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham; Westminster City Council; Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. It brings systemic training and system-level change, building on the knowledge, confidence and expertise of practitioners and managers.
Beginning in 2014, the local authorities employed clinicians (family therapists and clinical psychologists), embarked on a programme of training for over 500 social workers and other related practitioners, over 160 supervising practitioners, and senior managers. Changes to recording were also introduced, alongside an investment in an observation and coaching and motivational interviewing programme, parenting programmes and Signs of Safety. Alongside this, clinicians are embedded within services and invested in an observation, coaching and motivational interviewing programme.
The three local authorities are expanding the programme by growing the number of systematically trained practitioners and developing a Centre for Social Work to share learning with the sector.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2016 found that the rates of use of agency staff, staff turnover and staff absence all show changes towards more stable staffing, which indicated better staff retention and greater satisfaction.