shutterstock_74974120ChildrenCount Surveys

The ChildrenCount Surveys are a set of tools designed to paint a representative picture of the needs of all children from birth to adolescence in a given community or local authority.

The data – when aggregated up to the population-level – are designed to inform the development of investment strategies to improve child outcomes, guide the selection and implementation of evidence-based services and the design of new innovations.

The tools generate unparalleled data from approximately 600 parents of young children and up to 10,000 school-age children in a given area. These data are powerfully and dynamically visualised and considered alongside existing data on need and service use.

The ChildrenCount Surveys are an adapted version of the Evidence2Success methodology developed by the Social Research Unit at Dartington in partnership with the Annie E Casey Foundation and the Social Development Research Group.

Centre for Youth Impact

The Social Research Unit at Dartington is delighted to be collaborating with Project Oracle and NCVYS in a new initiative supported by the Cabinet Office to establish a Centre for Youth Impact (CYI).

The centre will focus on evidence, capacity building and practice development. It will provide national leadership and a focal point for funders, commissioners, academics and providers. An online portal will also be created, offering online and offline resources, connecting the sector to existing initiatives to support evidence building and impact measurement.

As part of the pilot phase of CYI, three early adopters – Brathay, Foyer Federation, and London Youth, will act as ‘gateways’ into existing networks, both regional and national. CYI intend to work through the early adopters via a cascade model, including train-the-trainer sessions and workshops for wider groups of stakeholders.

The CYI will work closely with important sector partners such as the National Youth Agency, the Early Intervention Foundation, and Inspiring Impact. This will ensure that the initiative builds on existing resources, and meets the diverse needs of youth sector organisations. It will build on the work of the Catalyst Consortium, ensuring that resources like the Framework of Outcomes for Young People remain accessible and relevant.

The CYI will be formally launched at the Creative Collisions conference, hosted by leading youth sector organisations, on the 6 November 2014. More details will be made available soon.


Investing in Children website

Please tell us what you think of our Investing in Children website

Investing in Children provides free and independent advice on competing investment options in children’s services. Users can search over 100 interventions to find those that match their criteria and then compare the costs and cost-benefit of different interventions. The interventions listed focus on the health, educational attainment, emotional well-being, behaviour and relationships of children aged 0-22 years.

The Social Research Unit launched Investing in Children in September 2013. It has been well received so far and we are looking to develop it further. We would be grateful for your feedback via this short survey that will inform future development of Investing in Children.

The website can be found at


babies feet and handsSocial Research Unit supporting local areas to develop strategies for the Big Lottery Fund’s A Better Start programme

The Social Research Unit has been appointed by the Big Lottery Fund to support 15 shortlisted areas in developing evidence-based prevention strategies for their A Better Start programme: a £165m initiative that aims to improve the life chances of babies and children by achieving a step change in preventative approaches in pregnancy and the first three years of life, based on robust evidence of what works. We will also be helping 3-5 selected areas get ready to implement their strategies in 2014.

We will be using our methodology Better Evidence for a Better Start to support the areas involved in the programme. This methodology is based on Evidence2Success, which we developed in partnership with the Annie E Casey Foundation and the Social Development and Research Group.

Visit our microsite for more information. More »

We work with


Trusts and foundations

Supporting trusts and foundations to develop, refine and evaluate grant-making strategies designed to improve children’s outcomes. More »

Birmingham Town Hall

Local authorities

Supporting local authorities alongside other statutory and voluntary agencies to develop and deliver evidence-based strategies for children’s services. More »

Family held in hands

Children’s service providers

Supporting charities and other children’s service providers to refine and evaluate their work – and move from innovation to proven impact . More »

Two adults and a child

Children’s service professionals

Supporting evidence-based practice at the frontline through a range of practice tools. More »

Quick Links

babies feet and hands

Better Evidence for a Better Start

Visit our microsite for information, resources and training materials on Better Evidence for a Better StartMore »


Investing in Children

The Social Research Unit’s one-stop-shop for children’s service commissioners, bringing together information about what works and cost-benefit analysis. More »

Journal of Children's Services

Journal of Children’s Services

A quarterly, peer-reviewed journal edited by the Social Research Unit on what works in children’s services. More »

Prevention Action

Prevention Action

A news site run by the Social Research Unit that reports on science, innovation, and evidence-based interventions to improve children’s health and development. More »

Latest From The Social Research Unit