The Children's Chances Cohort 2017-2018

The 2017/18 cohort of Crook Public Service Fellows worked on the theme of 'Children's Chances'

A single parent holds the hand of their young child as they walk down the road.

Cohort members

Isabelle Trowler

Department for Education

Since qualifying as a social worker in 1996 from the London School of Economics, Isabelle has worked within the voluntary, statutory and private sectors both in education and social care settings, in a variety of practice and senior leadership roles.

She is well known for co-designing a new model of delivering child and family social work, Reclaiming Social Work, which has had an enduring influence on the children's social care practice system across the UK and internationally.

Isabelle took up the role as the Government's first Chief Social Worker for England (Children & Families) in 2013.

Since then she has been instrumental in the introduction of national practice standards and post qualification accreditation for child and family social work, the development of nationwide teaching partnerships and the creation of a new professional regulator, Social Work England.

She has also played a central part in the ‎introduction of a new What Works Centre for Children's Social Care, the national improvement programme "Partners in Practice", and the roll out of the Department for Education's Innovation Programme.

Care Proceedings in England: The case for clear blue water

Over the last 10 years there has been a steady increase in England in the number of local authority applications for Care Orders. The proportion of children looked after by the state, who are also subject to a Care Order, has increased too.

In this policy briefing, Isabelle Trowler highlights the findings from an exploratory study of care proceedings in 4 local authorities across England. Cases were reviewed by both Isabelle Trowler and peer reviewers from partner authorities. Interviews were conducted with key social work decision makers.

Read the briefing (PDF, 195 kb)

Read the full report (PDF, 638 kb)

Sara Gowen

Sheffield Young Carers

Sara has worked in youth and community work for over 25 years, at a local and national level. Her current role is Managing Director of Sheffield Young Carers Project.

Sara previously managed Home-Start Sheffield and has been Deputy Manager at Children and Young People’s Empowerment Project. Her project development, strategic and managerial experience is in the children and young people’s sector.

Sara's commitment to the principles of community development and young people’s participation underlies all her work.

Stop The Clock: How can we prevent young carers undertaking inappropriate or excessive care?

Young carers are a largely hidden group of children and young people who provide vital care for their families, often 24/7 and over prolonged periods of time. The nature and intensity of young carers’ responsibilities often severely impact their own health, social, economic and educational wellbeing.

This briefing provides new research evidence from young carers about the challenges they face, highlighting the need for four areas of policy action.

Read the briefing (PDF, 262 kb)

Sumi Rabindrakumar


Sumi is a researcher with a background in mixed methods research and evaluation. She works in the policy team at Gingerbread, where she leads research on welfare, employment, childcare, child maintenance and family structure.

Sumi is currently working on projects looking at single parent family finances under austerity, benefit sanctions policy, and the effects of recent child maintenance reforms.

Prior to this, she worked for the children’s charity Coram, focusing particularly on adoption and family support services, and in the Audit Commission’s service evaluation team.

Family Portrait: Single parent families and transitions over time

The Office for National Statistics reports that, in 2017, there were around 1.8 million single parent headed households with dependent children in the UK, representing 22% of families with dependent children.

This policy brief uses the longitudinal data from Understanding Society to examine changing family dynamics for parents and children experiencing single parenthood.

Read the briefing (PDF, 198 kb)

Alice Field

Young Futures

Alice is trained as a Child and Adolescent Psychodynamic Therapist and has been in front-line work with young people in and leaving care since 2009.

In 2015 she was hired to project manage the creation of an innovative new Therapeutic Residential Home for young women leaving local authority care in South East London.

The building of Yvonne House was completed in 2016 and has been operating as a residential placement for just over a year.

She works closely and consults with commissioners in 9 London local authorities, social workers, multi-disciplinary mental health teams, existing residential placements, key-workers, police, CSE teams, health services and other statutory and voluntary services as well as care-experienced young people.

Yvonne House exists to try and support the residents to address (and professionals to understand) the underlying reasons for the poor outcomes well-documented for young people leaving care in the UK.

Alice and the team at Yvonne House are committed to bringing together research into best-practice to work with young people who have experienced disturbed attachment and cycles of inter-generational trauma.

They also aim to support staff and the wider professional network to think together about how best to support care-leavers to reach practical, emotional and social independence.

Alice's research will inquire into the differences in provision from borough to borough, multi-disciplinary communication break-down and the gaps between research recommendations and policy.

Turning 18: Independence or cliff edge?

Indicators of child and adult well-being for children who are and have been in the care system are poor compared to peers in the general population.

This policy brief focuses on the experiences of residents of a nine bed therapeutic unit for young women in local authority care between the ages of 16 - 18, where the aim is to prepare them for responsibilities that come with that transition to adulthood.

Read the briefing (PDF, 253 kb)

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