250 single assessments carried out
86 children exited care
238 children allocated
Blackpool Council's need
In January 2020, Blackpool Council were experiencing a high number of children in care. Many of those children and young people, however, had been settled for a long time and no longer needed to be a looked after child.
Although Blackpool Council and partner agencies recognised this, they were stuck. They were unable to get to a place where those children could be easily discharged from social care.
The children were languishing within the care system when they needed the sense of closure that comes with having a place of permanence.
In Blackpool Council Head of Service for Legal, Dawn Goodall’s words:
“The children were living in limbo with a complex network of teams and elongated processes standing in the way. We needed help and Innovate Services proposed a workable solution.”
Innovate Services’ solution
In Dawn’s words, “Blackpool Council’s partnership with Innovate Services has enabled us to take a fresh look at our discharge of care provision.”
From the outset, our Innovate Services SGO team held a mobilisation meeting with key individuals, including local authority heads of service, legal teams and CAFCASS. Together, processes and timelines were agreed upon.
Our first task was to make sure that all identified children had an updated assessment of their circumstances.
At the same time, we reviewed Blackpool’s existing discharge processes. This was to ensure that the right support was in place to progress SGOs and that each carer received a tailormade package of support to provide their child with a permanent place. Somewhere the child could call their ‘forever’ home.
Reflecting on the benefits to each child, our SGO project-lead Claire Nelson, says:
“Children subject to a care order, were supported to remain at living safely at home safely, free from a care order and the burden that this brings.”
Working together towards a common goal
Our team took a holistic approach, working closely with the Judiciary, legal services, IRO service and CAFCASS. The aim was to streamline the process by making sure all partners were working together to progress the recommended plans.
Having buy-in from Blackpool Council and partner agencies was crucial. As a team, it was important that we were flexible and that no ideas or solutions were off the table.
Commenting on the strength of the collaboration, Dawn mentions:
“The Innovate team was incredibly focused and alive to the fact that the project needed driving forward, and that everyone involved across Blackpool had to focus their efforts on the same direction for real change.”
Adding to Dawn’s observations, Claire Nelson, adds:
“A good example of collaboration is how closely we worked with the IRO service to plan and organise CLA reviews. This was to fit in with the assessment timescales, allowing each plan to be quickly agreed.
“Additionally, we developed a Regulation 15 process. This was to ensure that there was a fair opportunity for every SGO application to obtain legal advice and be supported in the process. This fulfilled the requirements of the legislation and guidance around this.
“At the same time, the quality of the children and family assessments, social worker evidence and SGO assessments were also developed. We also co-worked with some children to influence practice and improve quality moving forward.”
Setting the blueprint for discharge of care
Our SGO team carried out 250 individual assessments, and of the 238 children allocated, 86 exited care. This is an achievement that would have been impossible with the pre-existing processes.
Speaking about the impact of the project on children and their carers, Claire Nelson says:
“We were able to achieve permanency for children and their carers so that they enjoy a life that is more reflective of an ordinary daily lived experience. Children reported feeling secure and having a sense of foreverness. Likewise, each carer is now free to make autonomous decisions for their child within a family environment.”
Resultingly, Blackpool Council saw a reduction in the number of Children Looked After (CLA), which directly translated into cost-savings and additional capacity.
Today, there remains a heightened awareness of the importance of SGOs and regular care order reviews. All partners are now working together to continually improve the discharge of care provision.
In fact, the benefits were realised very early on, as Dawn mentions:
“As soon as Innovate got the processes in place, our team just gelled, and we started to see a steady flow of children being discharged from care.
“Innovate gave us the opportunity to step away from the processes we had. Claire Nelson and the team guided us through what could be changed and streamlined to keep the momentum.
“The legacy of our collaboration with Innovate is the structure we now have. We have moved from one that was in disarray to a team that is focused on finding Blackpool’s safeguarded children a place of permanence.”
Do you need support in progressing your current child in need cases?
Innovate CYPS’ 14-week Children in Need (CIN) programme significantly reduces the long-term reliance on CIN plans, eliminates drift and identifies those children at risk, earlier.Find out more
Are you looking for more capacity within your duty and assessment team to clear a backlog of cases?
Or do you reprieve to look at a service restructure? We can help by managing cases coming in for referral and assessment.Explore how
Do you need support to reduce your Edge of Care costs and breaking the cycle of care?
Our award-winning solution brings statutory social work and multidisciplinary support together to deliver sustainable positive outcomes and huge cost-savings.Break the cycle with Innovate
Do you need support to secure better outcomes for children with complex needs?
We can support you in providing a sustainable alternative by managing cases to identify suitable stable placements or by taking children and young people through our residential Innovate Therapeutic Care programme.Read More
Is your MASH service struggling to keep a pace with the number
Let us take the pressure off and help you develop a more robust, timely MASH.Find out how
Do you have a high number of children at home on care orders that you need support in reducing?
Innovate can support you by reducing your children-looked-after (CLA) numbers and create direct cost-savings.Read more
Do you need additional support due to further requirements around capacity to manage your most complex cases?
We provide extra capacity to handle incoming cases and/or to work those that may have drifted, and introduce proven sustainable longer-term solutions to reduce the risk of drift and delay.Find out how
Do you need support to manage your current cohort of children with disabilities?
Innovate CYPS’ 14-week Children with Disabilities programme reduces costs whilst identifying new care pathways for children, young people and their families.Find out how
How confident are you that you know the quality of your service?
In complex children’s social work environments, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact causes of under-performance. Whether you’re preparing for Ofsted or are on an improvement journey, knowing what ‘Good’ looks like is important.Read More
- Children in Need
- Duty & Assessment
- Edge of Care
- High-Cost Placements
- Discharge of Care
- Children with Disabilities
- Service Auditing
Want to know more?
Contact us to find out more about our discharge of care programme.Contact us