Earlier this year it was announced that the Children and Social Work Bill would herald an overhaul of social work and children’s services. The Bill has just completed the Committee stage in the House of Lords (the House in which it began its journey). This month the Department for Education published a paper entitled “Putting children first: delivering our vision for excellent children’s social care” which sets out further detail around its provisions.
In particular, the paper encourages local authorities to try innovative approaches to delivering services to unlock improvement and respond to budgetary pressures as well as to threats to children and young people. Applications for Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme funding, including a further £200 million investment, will open in September 2016.
The paper highlights that a key part of the Innovation Programme is the focus on testing alternative delivery models, including the delegation of functions to not-for-profit organisations.
We note that early moves in this sphere have seen some highly innovative voluntary, community and social enterprise/local authority collaborations, with an emerging preference for social purpose joint ventures. These are embracing the value of bringing varied perspectives and skillsets to the table, and we query whether those that are moving (against the Department for Education preference) to wholly public sector models are missing some real potential value gains.
There are a number of areas ripe for the development of new delivery initiatives that focus on holistic care provision, particularly around:
- effective social prescribing for children;
- adoption support;
- the overlap of solutions in adoption, special guardianship and other forms of permanence;
- alternative delivery of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services through integrated provision arrangements; and
- special education interventions, effectively linking up education and social prescribing.
All of this forms a backdrop in the important observations and recommendations for tackling disadvantage that are included in Ofsted’s out-going HM Chief Inspector’s thematic review, published last week: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/helping-disadvantaged-young-children-ofsted-thematic-report.
For those keen to be part of the vanguard for positive change to the delivery of children’s services in the short- to medium-term, and we suggest that many should be, there is an important window of opportunity to assist in shaping the regime that will apply to its inspection from 2018. Ofsted is currently consulting on the principles of its next inspection framework. This consultation is open until 9 September 2016 and can be accessed through the gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-social-care-inspection.
Posted on 20/07/2016 in Legal UpdatesBack to Knowledge