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Research Case studies

Multi-disciplinary professional work with vulnerable children and young people

Our work

The body of work draws on a number of projects including:

  • ESRC 2002-05 New forms of Professional Knowledge and Practice in multi-agency Services, R000239916 £122,061
  • Research in Practice Literature review – Integrated Practice on of the frontline (2005-2006)
  • Leeds City Council Various projects – 2007-2013
  • ESRC 2013-15 Effective and Appropriate Sharing of Information ES/K00557x/1 £36,551

The body of research draws on Wenger’s theory relating to ‘communities of practice’ and applies this concept to the field of professional work with children and young people. The research focuses on a) the extent of growth of multi-professional work with children and young people b) how actual practice is operating and how this can be understood c) how professional practice can change to bring about improved outcomes for children and young people. Methods utilised include face-to-face semi-structured interviews, focus groups, observation, documentary study and surveys. The findings have implications for frontline staff, their managers and leaders and for policy makers. Professor Frost has engaged at all these organisational levels on a regional, national and international basis. The research contributes to influencing and changing professional practice and can contribute to improving outcomes for children and young people.

Our impact

Professor Frost was appointed as the Independent Chair of Bradford Safeguarding Children Board, for a four-year period commencing in 2010. This is a leadership position involving working with senior managers of children’s services – including health, social care, criminal justice and education. The work involved taking complex decisions about the management of situations where children have died or experienced serious incidents. The appointment arose directly from research presentations and dissemination relating to multi-disciplinary work. The chairing role delivers an income stream for the University. The contract with Bradford finished 30th January, 2014. The local authority area was subject to an Ofsted inspection during 2012 during which the partnership working (which included the Safeguarding Board) was found to be ‘good’.

Professor Frost was been appointed to the equivalent role in North Yorkshire, commencing 1st September, 2013. His research activity was mentioned by the organisation as an underlying reason for his appointment. The Chief Executive of North Yorkshire issued the following statement to staff following the appointment:

‘I am very pleased to announce that Professor Nick Frost has been offered and accepted the role of Independent Chair of North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board. The selection process involved strong partner representation from the Board’s Executive and they were unanimous in their recommendation. Nick has a long and distinguished career in safeguarding and wider children’s services. He has published widely particularly on multi-agency partnership working and brings a positive collaborative style to build on the work of our previous chair’.

Professor Frost was appointed as Chair of the Calderdale Safeguarding Board in September 2017. This attracted media coverage: Frost helps safeguard children

The Chairing of Safeguarding Boards has a direct impact on policy and practice with children and young people. The work includes monitoring service delivery, enhancing multi-disciplinary work and addressing any inter-professional conflicts that arise between professional and/or organisations. The Ofsted report on Bradford referred to Professor Frost as follows:

‘NYSCB is a highly effective partnership, with a strong independent Chair’

‘BSCB has benefitted from consistent, good leadership by an independent Chair’

Professor Frost was praised for his leadership in the field of challenging the sexual exploitation of young people and received a commendation from the West Yorkshire Police in 2014.

He has also acted as a research advisor to the Republic of Ireland government (2008-2015) on multi-disciplinary working. This led to the publication of a number of reports, which have directly influenced Irish policy and practice through promoting good practice with children and families.

Professor Frost has close links with a wide-range of statutory organisations (including the Department for Education, and a number of local authorities) and voluntary organisations (including Home-Start, Action for Children, CLIC Sergeant, Barnardo’s and the NSPCC) for which he contributes to conferences, ‘away days’ and service planning. All these events help to shape practice and policy.

Professor Frost is regularly invited to give keynote addresses on topics relating to multi-disciplinary work with children – during the last two years over 20 such addresses at international (Denmark, Holland and Eire), national and regional conferences. These are largely practitioner-based conferences attended by senior managers, policy makers and practitioners in the field.

Multi-disciplinary work with children and young people is an increasing form of practice in this field. Our work has a direct impact on helping to shape this method of working in order to make it more effective.

Nick Frost, Project Lead

Next steps

This work is being developed as the field changes and evolves. Further work has been undertaken in relation social workers in multi-disciplinary teams and particularly in the prominent field of child sexual exploitation.

Research outputs

Plus Icon References to the research
  • Nick Frost, (2017) "From “silo” to “network” profession – a multi-professional future for social work", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 12 Issue: 2/3, pp.174-183,
  • Frost, N., and Robinson, M.(eds) (2016, 3rd edition) Developing Multi-Professional Work for Integrated Children’s Services, OUP: London Frost, N., (2015) Children and Families in Social Work. In: James D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 3. Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 471–476.
  • Frost, N. Abbott, S. & Race, T. (2015) Family Support. Bristol, Policy.
  • Frost, N. & Dolan, P. (eds) (2017) Global handbook of child welfare. London, Routledge Frost, N. (2014, 2nd ed.) ‘Interagency working with children and families: what works and what makes a difference?’ In Foley and Rixon (eds) Changing Children’s Services: Working and Learning Together. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Frost, N. (2014, 2nd ed.) ‘Children’s Services: The Changing Workplace?’ In Foley and Rixon (eds) Changing Children’s Services: Working and Learning Together. Bristol: Policy Press.
Plus Icon Projects
  • ESRC 2002-05
    New forms of Professional Knowledge and Practice in multi-agency Services, R000239916 £122,061
  • Leeds City Council 2007-13
    Consultancy role of children’s services £105,000
  • Research in Practice 2004-2012
    Producing literature review and production of training pack £10,000
  • ESRC 2013-15
    Effective and Appropriate Sharing of Information ES/K00557x/1 £36,551
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