Modelling Good Practice to Other Local Authorities

North Yorkshire is committed to creating greater opportunities for learning from within the LA sector to be shared across the sector. All involved improve when this is delivered effectively. In the past North Yorkshire has been active in such sharing but our capacity has been limited and therefore the sharing constrained.

We propose that in each LA that we support we can, with Partners in Practice (PiP) resourcing, offer a tailored package of support enabling best practice to be shared and to maximise the 11 current opportunities for improvement and efficiency. The emphasis will be on creating capacity to embed improvement rather than simply observe or hear about that practice.

We have a range of staff at Team Manager, Service Manager, Head of Service and Assistant Director level who understand what 'good' looks like and have day-to-day experience of developing and sustaining improvements which deliver for children and families. They are characterised by high levels of skill and confidence and would be happy to spend time in your authority analysing current delivery, sharing their findings and working with your staff to deliver improvement. The time available would be tailored to need and can be sustained over a number of years (funding in place until 2020) to ensure improvements are embedded and become business as usual.

We feel that we can offer best practice in the following areas from which specific contracts and agreements with individual LAs could be brokered:

Whole System Diagnostic / Tailored Review

This offer will enable a local authority to receive an independent view of an element of their service by experienced NYCC managers. The evaluation will be specifically designed to address the need as identified by the recipient local authority and will relate to an area of practice highlighted below.

In order to make the most effective use of time some prior sharing of performance and strategy documents will be required (to be agreed).

A range of approaches will be used including audit, observation, focus group, case record reviews and interviews. We will seek to use Signs of Safety methodology and highlight strong practice as well as areas for development.

Our input won't end there as we will suggest SMART actions and plan a programme of support to enable your continuous development and improvement.

Front Door

North Yorkshire'sMulti Agency Screening Team (MAST), with input from social care, police, prevention, health and mental health, ensure robust screening and using Signs of Safety of approximately 1800 contacts a month. The MAST has enabled a consistent screening of all contacts so that we have assurance that those cases progressing to either prevention services or social care are those that require intervention. The team deals with the same number of contacts each month and we consistently see 45% of these progressing to the provision of Information and Advice. Prior to the establishment of the MAST significant time was spent designing the benefits that we hoped to gain from the MAST, creating a referral form and an analysis of  social worker time spent on none social work tasks. Additionally clear performance targets were highlighted as needing to be achieved as a direct result of the implementation of the MAST and the development of the project was implemented in 3 stages.

The team can evidence impact through reduction in re-referrals, higher percentage of conversions of referrals to assessment and higher levels of prevention support being offered to families. The integration of screening for children's services and prevention means that families really do access support which is right for them and without delay or inappropriate assessment. Increasing work within prevention services through creating one referral process, one referral form has seen many more families offered targeted support as required. Within social care teams the volume of referrals entering social work teams is consistently at the same level and whilst cases have reduced in numbers the duration of our involvement has increased and the re referrals have reduced.

The MAST has been successful across the wider partnership, public sector organisations reducing activity for police who have invested considerable resources in staffing the team. The Signs of Safety thinking is integrated in the model offering a shared language and clear risk assessment across all discussions. Every contact that is received is screened and each referrer is advised of the outcome of the referral and each family made aware that a referral has been made. A clear rationale is placed on the electronic record so that if a future dispute is raised as to why no action taken this can be provided. Within the MAST is effective multi agency sharing of information and formal twice daily screening of complex cases. Formal TORS for the MAST have been developed as has a quarterly MAST steering group with a multi-agency performance scorecard. The next stages of the MAST are now being implemented which is focusing on developing operation encompass, offering a more robust response by the co-location of further police time to those children that are missing or at risk of cse and in terms of how we respond to referrals from the police to allow for further improvements to be made to the delivery of services.

North Yorkshire is happy to work with you to look at developing a MAST in your area. We can offer team manager and strategic manager level input and as the programme is over 3 years duration we can commit to an on-going relationship with you. In offering this we can work with you to look at current processes and also to analyse current performance trends such as volume of re referrals, volume of referrals that progress to assessment, volume of those that don't progress to social care that become repeat re referrals, conversions of strategy meetings to ICPC and other performance measures. We can assist you with the development of the MAST and how this will look in your area and we can help develop your own terms of reference and MAST steering group and governance arrangements. We can also help you with your project and plan the implementation and the stages that might be required to develop this approach. This is a multi-agency approach to delivering services and so would require the police, early help and health professionals buy in to this approach.

Looked After Children (LAC) Reductions

North Yorkshire has reduced its LAC population by 17% and is now at 36/10,000 as opposed to the national average of 60/10,000. This is managed through culture change, panel discussions, high cost monitoring and scrutiny of admissions and discharges. We have released £2million from our LAC budget with further savings profiled. The ages of children coming into care has changed with a growth in the numbers of younger children and a reduction in the number of teenagers entering care.

The critical element underpinning this success is achieving whole system culture change. There is now a widely held belief that children and young people should not be in care unless there are significant safeguarding concerns and that we need to work on permanence from the beginning of planning for looked after status.

There are some specific actions which have been crucial to this success:

  • More rigour in the system about practice which comes into play throughout the processes and at decision making points.
  • Senior manager input to challenge but also own decisions and help with barriers.
  • A 28 review target by which children need a return home plan.
  • Embedding Signs of Safety which has helped with risk analysis.
  • Integrated model of prevention and intensive family support.
  • Development of practice standards and approaches required around family and friends approvals.
  • The development of a family and friends panel to ensure robust decision making.
  • The implementation of the early permanence approach.
  • A clear well embedded strategic relationship with legal services.
  • The development of clear gateway screening processes.
  • Introduction of monthly meetings between all teams and legal advisors to ensure monitoring of cases subject to a PLO Process.
  • Consistent approach to managing care proceedings and the development of supporting tools.

No Wrong Door (NWD) Innovation

North Yorkshire's NWD service commenced in April 2015 after being the first nationally to successfully bid for and receive DfE funding around 'rethinking care for adolescents'. The model is designed to bring systemic change to working with the hardest to reach, engage and place adolescents and fundamentally challenge traditional methods of practice and theoretical thinking. The model is predicated on finding solutions, building sustainable and meaningful relationships and managing the reduction of risk, whilst focussing on local placements.

Ongoing independent evaluation of the model is providing a strong evidence base of significantly improved outcomes with young people who have multiple vulnerabilities, often have experience of multiple placement breakdowns and those who disengage with statutory services. We have seen a 41% reduction in the use of residential beds with a saving circa £700,000.

Young people in and on the edge of care are safer and less criminalised as evidenced by 50% reduction in arrests, 62% reduction in charges and 66% reduction in missing episodes. This has led to significant savings to the local authority and other agencies due to reductions in demand. These outcomes link strongly to other agencies strategic plans therefore improving opportunity for partnership engagement.

The model also contributes to:

  • Reduced looked after children population
  • Increased stability of placement
  • Improved transitions through a single worker sticking with young people (up to 25)
  • Cashable savings for all agencies
  • SDQ scores are improved for a significant number of young people.
  • Significant reduction in risk taking behaviours.

North Yorkshire's NWD service can provide consultancy on the design and delivery of this model. We can provide support to engage staff and partners, backed by an established evidence base or, a full systemic diagnostic assessment of an organisations likely ability to maximise the effectiveness of the model once it is introduced. We are also committed to sharing carefully constructed tools for your organisations sole use under copyright from North Yorkshire. Many of these tools (such as our detailed information sharing agreement) have been developed over time, using expert advice, including legal, to aid best practice when working to a NWD model.

The degree of success to which an evidenced based model can be recreated in a new contextual environment is normally weighted heavily on following a stringent 'criteria based' model fidelity. NWD is designed to create successful outcomes with the hardest to reach, engage and place young people irrespective of their level of engagement or commitment to the model. It fundamentally challenges traditional systems and practice to create an operating environment which is bespoke to need.

A NWD model works to 10 key distinguishers which are sufficiently flexible to maintain a model fidelity but not at the expense of excluding particular groups. However, its key foundations are built on transformational change in culture, systems, practice and requires innovative vision across the landscape of interagency working.

Signs of Safety

North Yorkshire has mainstreamed the Signs of Safety model in our Safeguarding and Prevention Services. This methodology is highly regarded nationally and has been developing in North Yorkshire for 6 years. Ofsted commented in our 2014 inspection "children who are subject of concern about their welfare or who are at risk of harm are identified, supported and protected well. The Signs of Safety methodology is used across the county effectively to assess and manage risk." North Yorkshire has achieved this through a clear workforce strategy and practice leader forums which continue to develop and embed the model in teams. We have extended the use of the language around risk e.g. Child Sexual Exploitation and our continuous learning activity e.g. appreciative enquiry.

We pride ourselves on our confident workforce who feel safe - their practice has been further enhanced by the mapping of cases which is core to this model.

Specific outcomes achieved and evidence that this has worked:

  • Reduced Child Protection numbers
  • Reduced looked after children
  • Outcome focussed plans are delivering more effectively for children and families
  • Partnership working has improved as practice is built on a sound evidence based model and common language.

North Yorkshire in its support to other local authorities will ensure the model is delivered and fully embedded to achieve positive results for children and staff.

Children and Families Service

North Yorkshire's Social Care and Prevention Service brought together three existing services; Integrated Services (Children's Centres and Parent Support), Education Social Work and Youth Services to create generic roles to deliver a 0-19 targeted offer. This, including colocation with the Healthy Child Programme, has significantly reduced demand on social care and delivered £3million savings. The evidence based practice model which is used includes Solution Focussed therapy, Restorative Practice and Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. The service now includes Children's Centres, Early Years, Education Social Workers and the Youth Service.  There is a higher level of work now being completed in this service and the removal of duplication has led to considerable budget savings whilst designing a more effective service which is impacting positively on outcomes.

The Signs of Safety methodology has been integrated into the service model which ensures coherence and join up for families who need support. The model has significantly prevented escalation to more intensive and costly statutory interventions, including a dramatic reduction in numbers subject to Child Protection processes and looked after children.

North Yorkshire in its support will assist local authorities to consider the options in relation to the specific local context and deliver a children and families service that will achieve the same outcomes as the North Yorkshire model.

Family Group Conferencing

North Yorkshire's Family Group Conferencing Model has reduced the numbers going into care proceedings and becoming looked after children. The model is based on empowering families which has helped to change the culture across the service and its uniqueness in North Yorkshire is that the service works across both CSC and prevention with defined referral criteria for both. The service is well established.

The next planned development is additional posts to deliver 'lifelong links'. It is part of our extension to No Wrong Door - a development to ensure Care Leavers have ongoing support and relationships to support them into adulthood and beyond. We can offer support to develop, sustain and embed FGC practice to improve outcomes. We will also share emerging learning from the lifelong links model.