What does a Partner Organisation look like in practice?

An example of a Partner Organisation

Ealing Children Services Connect Service, London

Ealing Children Services Connect Service is the first local authority Service to become a Partner Organisation of DDP Connects UK

The local authority Connect Service within Ealing Council’s Children’s Services started to develop a DDP trauma-informed and attachment-focused model in 2015 alongside the development of Ealing’s Brighter Futures practice model. This brought together Looked After Children’s social workers, fostering social workers, clinical psychologists with training in Dyadic Development Practice. The Connect Service and DDP Connects UK are coincidental terms and not related titles.

The Connect Service is seen as driving innovation in the way it supports young people, carers and families by integrating statutory social work with trauma-informed and relationship-based practice. Of central importance is developing a model of practice that focuses on the impact of developmental trauma ensuring interventions are relationship based where developing emotional connections becomes a familiar way to communicate. In addition, parents and carers are actively supported to manage challenging behaviour whilst also staying emotionally connected with their children.

The DDP training has given social workers, clinical psychologists, foster carers and families a shared language and joint approach to managing challenges that come about from early adverse experiences.  Most of the Connect Team have undertaken DDP Level One and Two training as a basis to the theory and practice of working. This is supported by weekly reflective group supervision and through informal and formal consultations by the team’s clinical psychologists.

The DDP trainers aim to support statutory services to develop their own in-house training with staff running PACE training and DDP-informed consultation as soon as possible, alongside DDP trainers running regular DDP Level One and Two training and providing consultation for key staff.

This model of developing in-house services is demonstrated by Ealing’s Connect Service;

In addition, Alicia Fairhurst and Hannah Foxcroft have developed documents for foster carers that reflect trauma-informed and relationship-focused practice.

Ealing Therapeutic Foster Carer Competency Guide

Ealing Therapeutic Fostering Competency Framework

Thank you to Alicia, Hannah and Ealing Council to giving permission for us to add these documents here.

Two DDP trainers continue to run regular DDP Level Ones for all staff and DDP Level Twos. They also provide ongoing DDP supervision for practitioners who are in the process of becoming certified and who are working toward starting their DDP Practitioner practicum, plus reflective consultation for managers who are integral in supporting the model in practice on a day to day basis.

Ealing has a working arrangement with the local CAMHS where clinical psychologists work in Connect, enabling teams to provide in-house therapy, including DDP.

To find out more about Ealing’s Connect Service, please email Alicia Fairhurst, Lead Clinical Psychologist for Brighter Futures, Ealing Children’s Services, at fairhursta@ealing.gov.uk.


As a result of the Brighter Futures transformation informed by DDP, evaluation findings conclude the Connect Service has seen an increase in placement stability for this cohort of children. Foster carers are skilled up to understand the impact of caring for traumatised children on themselves and their wider family and understand the key role they have in interventions that repair this trauma as well as an increase in children and young people’s educational attainment. Ealing has also seen an increase in reunification with birth families and where this has not been possible, more positive and sustainable relationships with birth families has been achieved.

Working in a DDP informed way has developed positive relationships in the service. There has been a noticeable reduction in the reliance on agency staff, an increase in permanent staff and has reduced staff vacancy rates, allowing continuity in the professional network.

Ealing have also seen an increase in foster carers utilisation, with carers feeling heard, supported and valued as a key agent of change for Looked After Children.

Further conclusions are that DDP has aided an increase in re-unification (our Looked After Children figures are decreasing when others have seen an increase) and a significant growth in positive contact with birth families.

Here are some quotes from Ealing’s Brighter Futures conference held in December 2018:

“We have far fewer requests for direct psychology work – demonstrating that the teams thinking about the mental health and wellbeing of children looked after has moved beyond a ‘fix them with therapy approach’.

Our foster carers are developing therapeutic parenting skills and all the team work on their interactions with young people being characterised by an attitude of PACE and that’s great, it feels like we have developed as a team in our understanding of what drives ‘challenging behaviour’, why placements breakdown and what our children need to heal from trauma and loss.”
Clinical Psychologist

I have a better understanding of the ways looked after children communicate their needs through their behaviour. DDP and PACE has helped me understand these young people better and so I am able to support carers to parent in a therapeutic way.
Fostering social worker

Through the training I feel I have better confidence around my engagement and relationship building skills. I have discovered a passion for work with birth families in particular and now include them in a way I may not have considered before. Above all, I love my team. My managers are excellent. I feel genuinely supported and able to be vulnerable during group supervision so as to receive what I need to do the best possible job that I can.
Child’s social worker

“I have changed a lot as a person, I think more about my responses to my young person and how I can deal with situations differently and more calmly”
Foster carer

“I feel like if you had been my SW before, things could have been different. I think I would have understood what was going on better and worked with you. Perhaps my son would be living with me again by now”.
Birth parent

“Since you’ve been my social worker, things have been better. You’re not forgetful like other social workers. You’ve motivated [my foster carer] who then motivates me. You’ve helped me to be more comfortable during contact with my family. (it’s) now much smoother. I don’t worry about it anymore”
Young person