Duty & Assessment:

“As a senior manager, I felt very well supported. There were plenty of times
where the project needed to adapt, especially since we were dealing with such
a huge volume of cases.” Greta Ullfors, Strategic DAAT Manager,
Children First Northamptonshire (Northamptonshire County Council)



1702 assessments progressed in total



964 cases closed to Social Care


18 day average

18 day average for completion of single assessments

The Challenge

When Innovate CYPS was approached by Northamptonshire County Council, it was at a time of crisis. The council’s own duty and assessment teams were struggling with a huge volume of referrals of between 120 to 140 per week, often more. Social workers were already holding between 35-40 cases.

They needed a way to cope with the demand to ensure that children received the right intervention at the right time.

As project sponsor and Strategic DAAT Manager at Children First Northamptonshire, Greta Ullfors recalls:

“Coming in at a time of crisis is never easy but Innovate CYPS’ understood our situation and the challenge of managing the feelings and expectations of existing staff who were tired and at capacity.”

The Solution:

With a vast amount of experience managing similar duty and assessment programmes, we recommended a duty cycle formation of three teams. Our teams worked within Northamptonshire’s duty rota alongside their existing teams. This not only provided much-needed capacity, it enabled Northamptonshire to trial different duty cycle models.

Each team included one social work team manager and five social workers experienced in duty and assessment (holding 25 children at any time).

Each team worked four duty cycles of 21 weeks. At the point of allocation, management oversight was recorded on each child’s record and assessments where banded to ensure there was no drift and delay.

Working closely with MASH

For all s17 assessments, children were visited within 5 working days as per Northamptonshire’s practice standards. Our Social Workers acted quickly and undertook high-quality evidenced based single assessments, with an average case duration of 18 days.

Each duty team social worker ensured that the child’s voice was at the heart of all decision making. They also worked with partner services and undertook interventions to support positive change within the family.

Working closely with the MASH was key. Our team managers worked to embed consistent application of threshold, which ensured children receiving the right level of service in a timely manner.

The results

In total, we assessed referrals involving 1702 children and young people, 57% of which were closed to social care and 15% stepped down. Crucially, those children whose cases needed to be escalated to CIN, CP and CLA, received the right intervention, at the right time.

We supported managers, and shared knowledge with partner agencies to help the Council understand what ‘Good’ looks like as they continue with their improvement plans.

Commenting on the quality of our work, Greta said:

“Innovate CYPS worked hard to progress cases within timescale, with assessments and partnership work of a consistently high standard. If it hadn’t been for their support in helping us to manage the throughput of cases, we simply wouldn’t have coped.”

Key statistics

1702 assessments progressed in total
964 closed to Social Care
254 stepped down to early help
355 transferred as complex Child in Need
118 escalated to Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC)
18 day average for completion of Single Assessments

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.

Find out more
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.

Explore how
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.

Break the cycle with Innovate
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.

Find out how
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.

Find out how
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 Duty and Assessment programme.

Contact us