One of the many duties of Surrey County Council’s Children’s Services is to oversee the placement of children who become looked after by the local authority and of those who receive a placement as part of their Educational Health and Care Plan. SCC’s processes for dealing with placement provision have evolved over time into a system involving a number of actors, including children and their families, the case workers and social workers acting as the central point of contact, foster carers, residential homes and schools, as well as all the agencies we partner with in order to offer services to children according to their specific needs. As part of our drive to improve the quality of our services while maintaining our financial sustainability, we need to understand the interaction between groups in our system in further detail, as a first step in preparation for a system review aiming to improve its quality and cost-effectiveness. We are therefore offering an opportunity for a PhD student to join us in our transformation journey with a two-part project:
- A mapping of the current system status according to relevant group features and the observed patterns of interaction, based on quantitative and qualitative data collected from our services and users.
- A series of models providing a forecast of what the system would look like in the future if we changed its internal dynamics, introduced or removed system elements, increased or decreased the number of actors in different groups or required them to change their way of operating.
The ultimate aim of the exercise is to inform SCC’s decision making on changes to the processes, procedures and policies applicable to the management of placements that would improve the way we serve the needs of vulnerable young people in Surrey.
The project will be located in the Centre for Research in Social Simulation (CRESS) at the University of Surrey, Guildford, UK and will have three supervisors: Professor Nigel Gilbert and Dr Corinna Elsenbroich from the University of Surrey and Dr Sara Dicerto of SCC as a Collaborative Supervisor.
The successful student will receive a bursary from SCC covering Home/EU fees and living expenses (at the standard Research Council rate for UK/EU students) and a contribution towards research expenses. The period of support will be for three years.
Candidates should have a good first degree (2.1 or above) in a social science discipline and be fluent in English language (IELTS 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or an equivalent). A background in social work, experience of qualitative interviewing, and an interest and knowledge of computer modelling and statistics for the social sciences would all be advantages for this studentship. The student will need to pass a DBS check.
Application should be made through the University of Surrey portal (see link below) as soon as possible and before 1 August 2018. Note that a personal statement explaining your interest and qualifications must be included in the application, but a research proposal is not needed.