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Funding success for Social Work 'Kitbag' initiative

What Works for Children's Social Care (WWCSC) has just announced seven projects it will be funding to the tune of nearly £2 million over the next 18 months. One of these is 'Putting Kitbag to Work', a co-initiative launched by the Centre for Social Work Innovation and Research (CSWIR) at the University of Sussex and International Futures Forum.

Kitbag equips social workers and carers with a toolkit to promote socially and emotionally literate relationships between children, professionals and carers. The 'kit' contains prompt cards (e.g. feelings card or presence card), timers, a talking stick, puppets, visualisation exercise, and calming oils and will be used in interactions with children and families.

The Talking and Listening to Children (TLC) Kitbag campaign was launched by University of Sussex Professor of Social Work, Gillian Ruch, in 2019 in response to research highlighting the shortage of materials provided for staff to engage with children. The research discovered that less than 20% of social workers used resources when communicating with children. A subsequent social media poll conducted by Professor Ruch revealed that 70% of participating social workers received no resources from their employer to work with children.

Of the recent funding award announcement, Gillian said:

"We are delighted that CSWIR, in partnership with International Futures Forum, has been awarded funding from What Works Centre for Children's Social Care to deliver a practice intervention involving the distribution of Kitbags to social workers and carers in two local authorities. The intervention will be independently evaluated by a WWC appointed evaluation team."

Following the launch of Kitbag, over 50 social workers in seven local authorities across the country trialled the specially created bag of resources designed to help professionals communicate and engage with the children in their care. It was subsequently adopted into the regular working practices of social work practitioners in Bexley, Bradford, Coventry, Oxford, Rotherham and Telford, with Brighton & Hove City Council gtting on board more recently.


What Works for Children’s Social Care seeks better outcomes for children, young people and families by bringing the best available evidence to practitioners and other decision makers across the children’s social care sector. Commissioned by the Department for Education to work alongside CASCADE at Cardiff University, the organisation works in close consultation with leaders, practitioners, children and young people, families and researchers across the sector to:

  • identify gaps in the evidence, and create new evidence through trials and evaluations
  • collate, synthesise and review existing evidence
  • develop, test and publish tools and services that support the greater use of evidence and inform the design of the future Centre
  • champion the application of robust standards of evidence in children’s social care research.

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By: Heather Stanley
Last updated: Friday, 30 October 2020

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