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Scaling and Deepening the Reclaiming Social Work Model

Project start date: October 2014

We (Morning Lane Associates) were awarded £4.4m to implement the ‘Reclaiming Social Work’ approach effectively in five local authorities (Derbyshire, Harrow, Hull, Southwark and Buckinghamshire), with the aim of addressing the systemic barriers to embedding this approach as a way of working throughout the organisations.

Project Summary


Reclaiming Social Work (RSW) utilises evidence-based methods, whereby children and families receive a specialist service which is respectful, dynamic, and highly competent, underpinned by a commitment to effect lasting change for families. RSW equips social workers with tools from the field of systemic family therapy and social learning theory meaning families get the right support, at the right moment, to make and sustain changes.

Our innovation project enacted three main changes to the social care system. Initially the project focused on the recruitment and development of fifty consultant social workers, who lead small, multi-disciplinary RSE units. Concurrently, each local authority implemented a Keeping Families Together unit in each local authority, who supported families to stay together by targeting teenagers on the edge of care. Finally, the project aimed to reduce the administrative burden within social work teams, with the aim to increase practitioners’ direct contact with families.

The project provided the first evidence about the factors required to deliver RSW to a high standard. The most crucial influences were the quality of the case discussion in units, and the presence of a clinician in those discussions. It also highlighted the need for information-sharing and decision-making based around group case discussions.

RSW is a model for excellent social work that has been demonstrated to be deliverable in a variety of different types of local authority. Other authorities should consider it as an option for delivering high quality services that work effectively to keep families together.

Find out more

Project evaluators

University of Bedfordshire

Project partners

Buckinghamshire County Council

Derbyshire County Council

Harrow Council

Hull City Council

London Borough of Southwark



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