Duty & Assessment:

November 2020 – February 2021
(peak of the Covid-19 pandemic)

“Innovate CYPS was commissioned as a managed service to support Bradford Children’s Social Care with duty and assessment work.  All team members were experienced, professional and were able to hit the ground running. Innovate’s Service Managers maintained regular, open, and respectful communication throughout. This enabled timely identification of any issues, which were quickly resolved. The project was executed seamlessly, from beginning to end. It was a pleasure getting to know the team and we are thankful for all their support.”
Nabeel Hussain, Head of Service, Integrated Front Door, Bradford Children’s Social Care



518 Children assessed



100% of cases had a management decision within 24 hours



100% of visits were attempted within 3 days of allocation



100% s47s completed within 24 hours

Scope of the project

When Bradford Children’s Social Care approached Innovate CYPS at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in November 2020, its existing duty and assessment service was facing inordinate pressure. There was an urgent need for additional capacity within its Integrated Front Door service to safeguard children coming in for referral.

Project sponsor and Integrated Front Door Head of Service, Nabeel Hussain, needed an external partner he could trust. One that could manage referrals coming into the service where the child was assessed as being on the cusp of entering Child in Need (CIN).

The scope of the project was clear from the outset. Sitting alongside the Integrated Front Door, Innovate CYPS team’s role was to work with partner agencies, children, their families and early help to identify a preventive approach that would meet each child’s support needs, avoiding an unnecessary transfer to CIN. Innovate CYPS was to complete its assessment of each referral within 10 days.

The project was overseen by Innovate Director of Service Delivery, Darren Shaw, with the support of Team Manager, Jacqueline Fox, and seven experienced social workers.

Crucially important to Nabeel and Bradford Children’s Social Care Service Manager, Tracey Lewis, was that the team embedded Signs of Safety into all its assessments, reviews and supervisions.

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Dealing with added pressures of Covid-19:

Innovate came into the project acutely aware that Bradford was experiencing high volumes of Covid-19 infections. The team, however, needed to find a way of meeting children and their families face-to-face. To accommodate this, family visits were jointly undertaken with Health, transport was arranged, and full PPE was worn at all times. Digital meetings, in addition to the weekly risks and issues meeting, were also quickly organised to address any urgent needs.

Innovate CYPS’ approach

Shortly after agreeing to the scope of the project, the team hit the ground running. To gain a detailed understanding of each child and their family history, Team Manager, Jacqueline, completed an audit of each child within 24 hours of a referral being made.

Each audit involved a brief overview of the referral and family history and an analysis of the risk and protective factors present. At this point, a SMART action plan (with timescales), contingency plans and review points were added to the referral. This provided clear direction and measurable actions to ensure social work intervention was focused.

Over 12 weeks, Jacqueline and the team assessed 518 children and completed 76% of assessments within the 10-day timescale. Some referrals were assessed as needing more than 10 days due to identified needs and risks, and all were completed within statutory timescales.

By far the highest volume of concerns resulting in assessments (33.9%) related to domestic abuse. In terms of case planning, chronologies were completed for all children assessed by the team. By clearly understanding the chronology of events, the team identified concerns to offer greater insight into children’s lived experience where domestic abuse was a concern.

Many domestic abuse referrals came from the Police and were understood to be either isolated or first incidents. However, further exploration as part of each chronology-based assessment showed that domestic abuse was a repeated pattern in many referrals. Where this was the case, Innovate’s social workers identified preventative support through early help or the appropriate statutory intervention. This involved the team working with early help to agree to a clear plan for children and their families, using a SMART plan.

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Resounding project success

The entire team at Innovate CYPS is incredibly proud of the project’s success. Of the 518 children Jacqueline and her team assessed and supported, 68.5% of cases were closed to social care, and a further 12.5% stepped down to early help.

In terms of overall intervention timescales, all children stepped down to early help services, or where no further action was taken, were completed within 20 working days.

The transfer process for children requiring statutory intervention was equally positive in terms of timeliness. All children presented to an Initial Child Protection Conference were made subject to child protection plans (a recommendation of the project), with all conferences taking place within 15 working days of a strategy discussion.

A key aspect of Innovate CYPS’ work has been to strengthen the existing referral process. In stepping away, Bradford’s screening Social Workers include chronologies within their referrals to review historic records and use the information to make informed decisions.

As a result of close partnership working with the Police, there is a more coordinated approach to domestic abuse referrals. To support Achieving Best Evidence guidance, and if assessed as being the best course of action, the Police consult with the Integrated Front Door Service before making a uniformed visit.

Similarly, where domestic abuse is a concern for children being re-referred, safety plans involving a child’s wider network are used. Lead professionals, wider family members, and those known to the child are encouraged to recognise signs of abuse – in line with Signs of Safety.

Children in Need

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.

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Duty & Assessment

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.

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Edge of Care

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.

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High-Cost Placements

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.

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Discharge of Care

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.

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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.

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Children with Disabilities

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.

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Service Auditing

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.

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  • Children in Need
  • Duty & Assessment
  • Edge of Care
  • High-Cost Placements
  • Discharge of Care
  • Safeguarding
  • Children with Disabilities
  • Service Auditing

Want to know more?

Contact us to find out more about our service auditing programme.

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