A MESSAGE FROM THE CENTRE OF EXPERTISE ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
We are very pleased to inform you that we have published our report: ‘Piloting the CSA Practice Leads Programme in social work: Evaluation report’. The report is now available on our website here
Improving the social work response to child sexual abuse is essential both in terms of reducing the long term impact of sexual abuse on individuals and their families, but also on public services and society as a whole. Research has shown that many social workers lack training on CSA and therefore do not have the knowledge, skills and confidence to work effectively with cases where there are concerns of CSA. By establishing an evidence-informed understanding of sexual abuse and offending amongst social workers, team managers and early help services, we can increase safe, confident, competent and proportionate responses to such cases.
In 2018 the CSA Centre developed the CSA Practice Leads Programme, an intensive programme of training and development which sought to build practitioners’ understanding and confidence in identifying and responding to child sexual abuse (CSA), and support them to cascade their learning within their services. This evaluation report provides strong evidence of the programme’s quality and value in enabling local authorities to improve their identification and response to concerns around CSA. We are now preparing to pilot the CSA Practice Leads Programme with delivery to multi-agency groups and in light of the likely continued social distancing requirements we will be adapting the programme for remote delivery.
The programme was piloted between October 2018 and January 2020 in three local authorities and a national charity which primarily supports adults with drug and/or alcohol dependency support needs. This report presents the findings from an evaluation of the pilot programme to develop ‘CSA Practice Leads’ in the field of social work; the evaluation of the programme pilot in adult substance misuse services will be published this summer.
The CSA Practice Leads Programme in social work comprised 10 days of small-group learning sessions, held over 10 months, which included half-day reflective case discussions connecting evidence to ‘on the ground’ practice experiences. It covered key areas for understanding and addressing CSA identified through the CSA Centre’s research, scoping work and engagement with the sector:
- the scale, nature and impact of CSA;
- disclosures and the social work role;
- CSA in different contexts (intra-familial, online-facilitated, CSE);
- working with children and non-offending parents/carers;
- working with children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour;
- women who sexually abuse children;
- working with survivors;
- child wellbeing and the child protection process.
This evaluation report provides strong evidence of the programme’s quality and value in enabling local authorities to improve their identification and response to concerns around CSA. Key findings include:
- There was strong evidence of the programme’s impact on participants’ knowledge, skills and confidence in identifying and responding to CSA concerns; this had enhanced their practice and enabled them to develop as specialists within their teams and wider organisations.
- The quality of the programme’s delivery emerged strongly in participants’ feedback; they had particularly valued that such a sensitive and complex subject had been approached in a manner that felt both positive and safe.
- CSA Practice Leads were disseminating their learning by sharing resources and delivering presentations to wider teams. They were also starting to support colleagues to overcome the fear and uncertainty that surrounds concerns of CSA, and, at times, were challenging them to ask direct questions and not let CSA concerns be put aside owing to lack of proof.
The CSA Centre is committed to supporting practitioners to improve our collective response to child sexual abuse, as we look to the future development of the CSA Practice Leads Programme we will consider how to best support CSA Practice Leads to continue disseminating their learning and how to review the longer-term impact the programme has on local authorities’ response to concerns of CSA.
We would be very grateful if you could help disseminate the report amongst your relevant stakeholders.
If you have any questions about our CSA Practice Leads Programme or our wider work, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.
Policy advisor, Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse