The Social Work Innovation Fund Torbay (SWIFT) aimed to improve the way children, young people and families are supported by children’s social care organisations.
The project comprised multiple elements, including: the creation of Early Help Practices (EHP) such as multi-professional, locality focused hubs; the formation of a Public Services Trust (PST) offering a unique legal framework to facilitate pooled budgeting, joint commissioning and attract social investment; and the transfer of Children’s Services to an Integrated Care Organisation (ICO).
The DfE-funded independent evaluation found that the project did not get off the ground due to an inadequate Ofsted report that noted ‘the involvement of staff in projects and initiatives had taken focus away from ensuring good quality front line services’. It required the LA to re-focus on the resultant improvement plan, areas different to those outlined in the IP bid. The report raises important issues about the need to integrate innovation into ‘business as usual’ and when within an improvement cycle an LA is able to respond to change or innovation.