The driver of the Children’s Services Transformation Programme was a number of challenges in Northamptonshire, including a higher number of looked after children than the national and regional average; a cycle of re-referrals, repeat assessments and interventions; and a low uptake of its targeted early help system. Northamptonshire’s structure as a large local authority meant limited flexibility and a slow pace of change.
Northamptonshire developed an alternative delivery model for children’s services, singularly focused on support for vulnerable children with the aim of giving children and young people stability of support; empowering families to be independent; providing additional opportunities for care leavers through a charitable arm; freeing practitioners to practice consistently and effectively; and change poor practice and inefficient use of resources.
The new organisational design tackles ineffective systems and pathways and rebalances spending by using a value chain diagnostic. It provides flexibility and agility to stabilise the workforce and reduce the reliance on agency staff through an effective recruitment and retention strategy, providing clear progression routes for staff and embedding targeted early support into the professional disciplines of both social care and education. Blended locality teams ensure a ‘team around the child’ approach, developing relationships with families though strength-based practice and Signs of Safety across the whole of children’s services.
DfE funded independent evaluation will be published in 2020.