The Coram Permanence Improvement Project sought to enhance the wellbeing of children who can not live safely at home, focusing in particular on cases where adoption is the permanence plan. In particular, it was hoped that those children with the most complex needs will achieve stability and permanence at a younger age than had previously been the case, thus improving life chances.
In order to improve local authority service capacity and capability, and improve permanence, the project sought to embed a bespoke data-led and practice-based approach. In order to implement this approach, a consultancy model was introduced alongside a Permanence Team of social workers.
The team developed basic tools for capturing and analysing high quality data and introduced permanency tracking meetings to the local authorities to provide a space for collective problem solving. They also supported the creation of dedicated, proactive fostering family finding resources to identify suitable and timely long-term foster placements. The project incorporated Bright Spots to ensure children’s views and subjective wellbeing were fed into any changes and improvements.
Wave 1 focused on adoption, supporting two local authorities who had been judged as inadequate to deliver good adoption services within two years. Wave 2 adapted the model for four local authorities so that it could be applied to long term fostering, creating a focus on delivering permanency for children who remain in care. The project piloted Fostering Activity Days and created a survey for care leavers, Your Life Beyond Care. The systems and processes introduced in these projects have been mainstreamed in all the local authorities involved, who are now in a position to continue on their improvement journey without Coram’s involvement.
The DfE-funded independent evaluation published in 2017 evaluated Wave 1 of this project and found that the consultancy approach successfully built capacity and capability in the local authorities, leading to timely decision making around adoption and matching on a case-by-case basis.