Partnership for Change

Co-producing an intervention and testing its feasibility for a randomised control trial.

Partnership for Change


This protocol summarises plans for a randomised control trial of an intervention to improve the mental health of children with a social worker.

Who, what, why and how?

In this project, Partnership for Change, we aim to develop an intervention that enables health and social care organisations and the government to work together to support families before children are taken into care. The intervention will focus on improving parent-child relationships in families in which the child has a social worker.

The English Care Review Case for Change states that “too often we are allowing situations to escalate and then being forced to intervene too late, severing children’s relationships and setting them on a worse trajectory” (page 10). By supporting parents earlier on, helping them build family resilience through understanding, respect and reducing stressors, we may be able to help families avoid crises that lead to children being taken into care.

We will work alongside NSPCC to co-produce a new service called Infant Parent Support (IPS), developed from an existing NSPCC service (Infant and Family Teams). IPS will address gaps in current service provision such as a relationship-focussed approach, mental health and neurodiversity awareness and poverty-aware practice. It is hoped that the new service would also allow mapping and improving the current services landscape for struggling families. We will also test the feasibility of a definitive Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) of IPS.

Research Questions

The team will:

  • Work with parents whose child(ren) has a social worker to co-produce the IPS intervention from our existing IFTs in Glasgow and London.
  • Use a partnership approach to map the landscape of current services for these families and, through creating new multi-agency partnerships, improve the organisation’s access to and quality of services available to them.
  • Conduct a feasibility Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) to examine whether it will be possible to evaluate the clinical and cost-effectiveness of Infant Parent Support (IPS) in a future study.

Partnership for change will be undertaken in two stages. The first phase will form Parent collaborators groups who will be hosting small workshops with relevant members of the wider intervention. The workshops will aim to explore and discuss each aspect of the intervention by using tried and tested techniques which will be agreed in advance with Parent Collaborators to ensure power dynamics are managed and to ensure everyone’s voices are heard. The second phase will focus on the feasibility of an RCT, where the team aims to recruit 30 families living in Glasgow and London.

The research questions for this study are:

  • Can we coproduce, with parent collaborators, a new service, Infant Parent Support (IPS) to improve the mental health of children with a social worker?
  • Can we test the feasibility of an RCT of IPS compared with services as usual?

Delivery Partners


Due Date

This project is due to be completed by November 2023.

Research Protocol


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