Martin Murphy, Technical Director for the Care Practice, Consultancy+, examines how local authorities can work to improve outcomes for children in care.
There are a few more important goals than improving outcomes for children.
Creating solutions that help to improve local authority performance to achieve this aim is something Consultancy+ excels at, and that is why I was so excited to take up my new role as Technical Director for Care Practice.
In it, I will be supporting our existing team of specialists to deliver solutions within the children's social care sector.
The Care Practice has already successfully partnered with more than 50 local authorities across children's services, adult services, educational psychology and special educational needs and disabilities.
As part of these partnerships, we strongly believe that our solutions cannot and should not be 'one size fits all' solutions.
That is why Consultancy+ completes in-depth discovery analysis with each local authority to ensure the scope of services to be delivered adds true value where it is most needed.
My 35 years of experience working in child protection and more than 20 years of social work management gives me a significant insight into how local authorities can effectively utilise the support we can offer at Consultancy+ to help address the challenges they face.
In recent years there have been many initiatives developed to support local authorities in managing staffing issues, assessments, and case backlogs, as well as the preparation work required for imminent OFSTED inspections.
Working with Consultancy+, I believe there are a variety of ways we can take on these issues, from detailed diagnostics around service improvement, engagement of specialist teams and delivering bespoke assessments.
It is my belief the services we help to deliver to local authorities ensure children and young people are seen consistently with a high level of quality. Some of the work Consultancy+ has completed over the last few years includes:
- We have used teams to review long standing child in need plans, thus ensuring work is targeted to those most in need and put into the right legal framework to progress the work.
- Our teams have worked with local authorities to identify young people on care orders who permanency status needed resolving and in doing so reduced the number of children who remained the legal responsibility of the local authority. This resulted in fewer placement breakdowns and most importantly reunified families.
- Our short-term project teams ensure a reduced caseload for substantive teams, thus allowing social workers who work full time with the local authority to focus on long-term cases and have the capacity to deliver better outcomes for young people and their families.
- Our experienced team members have a focus on improving outcomes and producing high-quality work.
These teams are not the solution to every challenge facing a local authority and the best outcome is always that the authority is able to recruit and retain appropriately qualified staff, while the partner teams are supporting colleagues in dealing with challenges in the short to medium term.
The goal of workforce resilience can be achieved with support, and by utilising Consultancy+ in partnership with Reed Talent Solutions, we would endeavour to work with substantive teams to ensure a long-term sustainable service.
I believe there is a potential risk that by not utilising these teams, a local authority may face further staffing challenges and burn out. This may end up with the need for greater financial investment in the long term.
The teams that we can build are designed to offer a bespoke service to clients, built around a system that replicates best practice in managing and supporting social workers to allow them the time to focus on undertaking holistic assessments with families that lead to focussed work plans. The plans are regularly reviewed to ensure progress is being made and that the young person remains at the centre of everything that is done and every decision that is made.
Consultancy+ can call upon a strong group of highly experinced project managers to shape and deliver an effective service. The managers ensure our service is always OFSTED ready, and we maintain a constant focus on meeting and exceeding the authority's key performance indicators and our own internal ones to assure our clients and the teams are delivering safe, quality work.
The project managers work closely with the social workers, face to face and remotely to make day to day threshold decisions, drive our work plans and quality assure all the work that the social workers produce.
No member of our teams will have less than three years post qualifying experience and with access to one of the largest pools of, compliant and proven qualified social workers we are able to ensure we have fully staffed teams in place. Our designated delivery function manages those teams through periods of fluctuation and change to deliver on the desired outcomes of the project.
The teams can take on complex cases, help clear assessment backlogs or add capacity to all social work services including MASH/Duty and Assessment/Safeguarding/Looked After Children.
All social workers have manageable caseloads with the flexibility to work remotely as much as possible. They operate on the basis that they can work independently and can make evidenced and safe assessments of young people's needs and to respond to emerging or immediate safeguarding concerns swiftly. They do this alongside our teams of inhouse and dedicated experts leading the programs of work and ensuring that quantity is matched with quality and compassion.
In my new role working with Consultancy+, I am committed to continuing to offer support and solutions to local authorities. They have proven experience working in this space, and I am excited to join them and further develop this service offering with them.
If you want to discuss how this solution may work for you, please contact myself or Lucy, Managing Consultant for the Care Practice at email@example.com or Lucy.firstname.lastname@example.org
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