Major new evidence centre to focus on supporting family relationships to improve lives of vulnerable children 

6th June 2023

Today [6 June] sees the launch of Foundations – What Works Centre for Children and Families, formed from the merger of the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC).  

All children should have the foundational relationships they need to thrive in life. Foundations will generate and champion actionable evidence to improve services and interventions that support family relationships, so that more vulnerable children can go on to flourish.  

The new national centre will make a significant contribution to building the evidence base and improving outcomes for some of England’s most vulnerable children. With an annual turnover of £10m, Foundations will generate high quality evidence about how to strengthen and support loving and stable family relationships, and for children who are unable to live with their parents, enduring relationships with trusted and supportive adults. It will provide answers and practical solutions that empower decision makers to improve policy and practice, so the right actions are taken at the right times. 

Executive Chair, Foundations, Josh MacAlister, said:  
“Family – in all its forms – is one of the most powerful influencers of children’s outcomes. But there are major gaps in evidence about which approaches and interventions work. That’s why this new organisation will focus on generating high quality and actionable evidence to improve services that support foundational relationships around children. This new mission will bring greater attention to services for families needing early help, children at risk of harm, relatives caring for their kin and children growing up in care.”  

Chief Executive, Foundations, Dr Jo Casebourne, said:  
“Too many children are in chronic situations or in crisis without the support they need. The earlier we intervene, using the evidence to best support these children, the better. We believe a focus on strengthening family relationships for vulnerable children is a key part of the solution.  

“Foundations will be focused on five areas: supporting parenting, strengthening family networks, domestic abuse, relationships for care experienced people and the service and practice models that underpin support.  

“We know that there are substantial racial inequalities in outcomes and experiences in early intervention and children’s social care that cannot be explained by deprivation alone, so we will use evidence about what works to call for change for children and families experiencing racial discrimination.”  

Foundations’ new five-year strategy, Building the Foundations, sets out how the evidence it generates over the next five years will have an impact on improving the foundational relationships that children need. It will mean undertaking large trials to gather the robust impact data needed and working to ensure interventions can be feasibly evaluated. It will also mean influencing policymakers, local service leaders and practitioners to use approaches that already have strong evidence of improving outcomes for children.  

Foundations will build on the rigorous trial methods of WWCSC and EIF’s evidence synthesis and work to shape services through evidence. It will bring together the people, expertise and resources of the former organisations to retain a focus on providing support to children and families at the earliest possible stages and being rooted in children’s social care practice. 

Notes to editor  

  1. For further information please contact Francesca Morosini, Head of Communications, on 07773 647 480
  2. An interview with Dr Jo Casebourne is available on request
  3. Foundations launched its new strategy Building the Foundations on 6 June 2023
  4. The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) and What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) legally merged in December 2022
  5. At Foundations, the National What Works Centre for Children & Families, we believe all children should have the foundational relationships they need to thrive in life. By researching and evaluating the effectiveness of family support services and interventions, we’re generating the actionable evidence needed to improve them, so more vulnerable children can live safely and happily at home with the foundations they need to reach their full potential.