February 2020
Hello and Welcome!

In this month's newsletter you will find:

  • Derby City Council - Local Area Coordinators - Project Spotlight
  • Greater Manchester Spreading and Scaling of Children’s Social Care Project Spotlight
  • Ealing (Building my Future) - Project Spotlight
  • The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
  • Regional Learning Workshops – March 2020
  • Care Review – What will it include?
  • Children’s Social Care Digital
  • Reforms to unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers
  • Return to Social Work Programme
  • Staying Close - Moving towards national roll-out
  • Ethics Review of Machine Learning in Children's Social Care
  • Behavioural Insights
  • Review of Multi-Agency safeguarding arrangements
  • Supporting Families: Investing in Practice
  • Honours
  • Feedback
Project spotlight
Derby City Council - Local Area Coordinators

The Local Area Coordination approach supports the development of relationships at the individual and community levels to nurture resilience and local solutions with a focus on helping people to stay strong, rather than have dependence on services. Local Area Coordinators embed themselves within their community to identify and unlock opportunities within communities to support vulnerable individuals.  Derby City Council has applied the Local Area Coordination approach in adult social care services and this project represents an extension of the approach to support care leavers.
The aim of the project is to improve the long-term outcomes and resilience for care leavers moving into adulthood by reducing the likelihood of: 
  • Social isolation through limited formation of relationships and social capital within the community; 
  • Reliance on benefits by being NEET through support to access EET;  
  • Transient lifestyles brought about through insecure or temporary accommodation leading to, on occasion, homelessness or custody;  
  • Poor health outcomes emotionally, physically and mentally leading to low self-esteem, self-harm, behavioural problems and anti-social behaviour;
  • Lack of independence skills in finance, budgeting, daily living or connection to local community.
    • Care leavers like that the frequency and type of communication is driven by themselves. They can go to their Local Area Coordinator as often as they want or need to, and there is no ‘end date’ for their support.  
    • Care leavers felt they could rely on their Local Area Coordinator. Key characteristics that made a good relationship were Local Area Coordinators being friendly, always open and accessible for a discussion. 
    • Some care leavers being supported by Local Area Coordinators did not have any other sources of support (e.g. Personal Advisers). Therefore, this support was timely and impactful.   
    The full evaluation report will be published in autumn 2020. To find out more information about this project please click here
Project spotlight

Greater Manchester Spreading and Scaling of Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme

The launch of the Department for Education (DfE) Children’s Social Care Innovation programme in 2014 coincided with the devolution agreement for Greater Manchester (GM). Stockport, Wigan and Rochdale were early participants focusing on whole family support, child sexual exploitation (CSE), complex safeguarding and adolescent mental health.

Directors of Children’s Services in Greater Manchester meet monthly as a team of 10 and in 2018 agreed with DfE a package of investment for the scale and spread of successful innovation projects. We expect the investment to be concluded by March 2021.

We agreed to focus on 4 strands of innovation:

  • Edge of Care - the No Wrong Door edge of care approach pioneered in North Yorkshire for which Wigan Council was an early adopter
  • Complex Safeguarding – built upon the Rochdale led ACT innovation project dealing with CSE
  • Stockport Family – an early help model based on the ‘team around the school’
  • Strengthening Families – a Salford innovation focused on recurrent care proceedings
Local Authorities are simultaneously exporting and importing innovation. In total there is a total of 26 adoptions and adaptions of children’s social care innovations.

Our delivery partners are the Innovation Unit and Research in Practice are our learning partners. 

Greater Manchester is not alone in that local authorities within its boundaries collaborate around children’s services. What distinguishes the GM approach is the structured approach, the alignment to wider devolution, the support of GM Children’s Board and Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
Project spotlight

Building my Future (BMF) is a creative new approach to working with young people and families with a special educational need or complex learning / behaviour needs aged 11-25 who are based in mainstream schools or colleges. It is an intensive short-term intervention, delivered by a dedicated multi-disciplinary team. 
The project aims to: 
  • Improve participation of young people with additional needs in mainstream education.  
  • Improve levels of attainment by young people with additional needs.
  • Improve levels of wellbeing among young people with additional needs.
  • Provide cost efficient joined up approach to supporting young people with additional needs.
In October 2018, BMF rolled out an additional weekly programme to support up to 28 young people who have been identified within the BMF cohort, called BMF Life Skills.  The programme is being led by the BMF Youth Workers, supported by the wider Integrated Youth Service. It focuses on young people’s social skills development and raising their self-esteem and confidence.
Interim findings suggest that there are examples of individual cases where participating young people are moving towards improved engagement with education, improved attainment (especially where they were not previously accessing education), and improved wellbeing. The full evaluation report will be published in autumn 2020. To find out more information about this project please click
The Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel’s annual report and first national review on criminal exploitation of adolescents has been released today (4 March 2020). Since the Panel was established in July 2018, it’s received over 500 serious safeguarding notifications. Over 230 of these involved children who tragically died. The annual report shows that teenagers and infants appear more at risk of serious harm in the context of abuse and neglect, with almost thirty per cent of cases involving babies under twelve months old.

The annual report highlights patterns in practice, with weak risk assessment and poor decision making were identified as major practice themes within these cases. That’s why the Panel is asking for government departments to align investment and strategies for vulnerable children across health, education, policing and social care.

Acting on these findings, the Panel’s first in-depth review looks at the significant number of notifications regarding teenagers coerced into knife crime and drug trafficking by criminal gangs. The review titled, ‘It was hard to escape’, examines the lives of 21 teenagers from 17 areas across the country. It aims to understand if the services designed to keep young people safe from criminal exploitation are working.

  • Recommendations for frontline practitioners to spot the signs and reduce risk include:
  • Ensuring there is immediate wrap-around support to compensate for the lack of structure, sense of belonging and rejection that exclusion from mainstream school can cause.
  • Having a clear and consistent long-term plan when considering moving a child out of the area.
  • Cautiously using control measures, such as electronic tags, where there is a good relationship with the child and with parental support.
  • Being flexible to respond when a child has reached a critical moment, such as after an injury or presenting at accident and emergency services.
  • Working with police to safeguard a child when they have just been arrested.
Further information on both reports is available here.  #ChildSafeguardingPanel and #HardtoEscape.

Regional Learning Workshops – March 2020

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme is approaching the end of its fifth year, and we are keen to share what has been learned – both about successful new approaches, and the enabling conditions needed to support the adoption of new approaches. With support from Mutual Ventures, DfE has arranged six Regional Learning Workshops that will take place in March 2020.

  •  5 March  – Bristol City Hall, Bristol
  • 11 March – Stockport Town Hall, Stockport
  • 13 March – London Councils, Southwark
  • 16 March – Sheffield Town, Sheffield
  • 19 March – The Mansion House, Jesmond, Newcastle
  • 24 March – Hertfordshire Development Centre, Stevenage

The purpose of the learning workshops will be to bring together the best insights from programme evaluation and learning, to help respond to sector demand for intelligence about what’s working and why.

Invitations have been sent to all local authorities and if you have not yet confirmed your attendance, and/ or would like any further information, please contact Lisa Thom (Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme). 

Care Review – What will it include?

On Wednesday 12 February 2020, the Secretary of State for Education confirmed the review would be independently led in a
Written Ministerial Statement.

The Government are committed to undertaking a review at the earliest opportunity. The Secretary of State for Education is clear that this review will be bold and broad, taking a fundamental look across children’s social care, with the aim of better supporting, protecting and improving the outcomes of vulnerable children and young people.
Further details will be set out in due course. We are keen to hear a range of views as the Department we develop the review.

Children’s Social Care (CSC) Digital

The DfE's Digital team in partnership with CSC policy team are conducting research into the role that technology might play in improving practices and outcomes in children’s social care. The team is working with design agency FutureGov on three projects which focus on the following areas:

  • How might we optimise social worker recording to increase the time social workers spend with children and families?
  • How might we facilitate information-sharing between multi-agency partners at the front door?
  • How might we establish standards and guidance for technology to ensure children’s social care systems meet a high quality?
As well as testing the potential desirability of better tools and technology, the teams are also exploring the conditions required to enable those tools to work effectively, including practice and culture as well as enabling an environment for success. The teams recently enjoyed a visit to Essex, who have been hugely helpful and accommodating in sharing their knowledge and experience. If you are interested in hosting the team for a research visit or if you would like more information, please contact or

Reforms to unregulated provision for children in care and care leavers

The DfE is seeking views on proposed new measures to ensure that the use of independent and semi-independent provision (commonly known as unregulated provision) provides the right level of support and does not place children in care and care leavers at risk.

Whilst there is a place for independent and semi-independent provision in the care system, to support young people to transition to living independently, it is clear that reform is needed to ensure it is being used appropriately and meets the needs of the young people placed there.

The DfE proposes new measures to do that and, through this consultation, is inviting views on proposed new measures and their potential impact. The proposed measures include:


  • banning the use of independent and semi-independent placements for children and young people under the age of 16;
  • driving up the quality of support offered in independent and semi-independent provision, through the introduction of national standards;
  • ensuring young people’s interests are appropriately represented by their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO);
  • introducing new measures so that local authorities and local police forces liaise before a placement in this provision is made; and
  • giving Ofsted new legal powers to crack down on illegal providers.

The consultation is open until 8 April and can be accessed here.

Return to Social Work Programme

The Local Government Association has launched a Return to Social Work Programme.

This is a national programme open to social workers that have been out of the profession for up to 10 years.

The programme will provide support social workers as they return to the profession in local authority social care services.

Applications are open until 31 March 2020.

Please share the news with your contacts to encourage applications to the programme.

Follow the social media campaign via @LGAcomms, @GEOgovuk and #ReturnToSocialWork links

Staying Close - Moving towards national roll-out

In October 2019, the Secretary of State (SoS) announced funding for Staying Close would increase from £2m in 2019/20 to £6m in 2020/21. Enabling current pilots to continue for a further year, but also allow national roll out of Staying Close begin. 

Staying Close aims to address the ‘cliff edge’ faced by young people leaving residential care. There are two core elements to Staying Close: (1) an offer of suitable accommodation, close to the young person’s former children’s home; and (2) a package of emotional and practical support provided by a key worker – preferably a member of staff from their former children’s home - to provide continuity of the key relationship between the young person and an adult who they know and trust.

DfE will be inviting new Local Authorities and children’s home providers to submit expressions of interest (EoIs) for funding to deliver Staying Close. Formal invitation to submit EoIs will be issued early February. We hope funding for successful bidders will be secured by June 2020.

The key desired outcomes are:

  • Improved access to education, training and employment (EET)
  • Access to suitable, sustainable accommodation, reducing risk of homelessness
  • Reduced levels of offending
  • Improved emotional health & wellbeing

We will advertise this opportunity by emailing Local Authorities (DCS’s), members of the National Leaving Care Benchmarking Forum, the Independent Children’s Homes Association (ICHA), members of the Children in Care Alliance (which has representatives from all the main children’s charities).

If you would like more information, please email Katie Adam

Ethics Review of Machine Learning in Children’s Social Care.

The use of machine learning is rapidly growing across all sectors including children’s social care.  A contentious issue with proponents advocating the use of  analytics to improve services and outcomes for young people and opponents seeing the use of machine learning as dehumanising with the potential for ingraining discrimination.  Clearly the use of analytics is controversial and likely to be debated and discussed for the foreseeable future.  For this reason, What Works Children’s Social Care commissioned The Rees Centre and The Alan Turing Institute to conduct a review of the ethics of using machine learning in children’s social care and have published their findings.  The research engaged practitioners, professionals and families and combines academic research and practical focus to produce an informative and thought provoking repo
rt.  Please see reports ....

Behavioural Insights

Kantar Ltd have begun their research to examine how partnerships are working together following the safeguarding reforms and seek to identify and understand the key behaviours required for successful multi-agency working. This research will identify how the three lead agencies are building, developing and maintaining strong working relationships, now that there is a shared and equal duty on the safeguarding partners to work together on local safeguarding arrangements. Findings from the research will be available spring 2020. Scoping interviews have been completed with 5 local authorities. Thank you to all local areas that have already taken part in the research.

Review of Multi-Agency safeguarding arrangements

Sir Alan Wood's progress review on new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements for local areas has now begun.

The review will look at how far the new arrangements are addressing the key issues as outlined in the Wood Report 2016 and the criteria set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, and identify local areas that require additional support. Sir Alan will work with police and health facilitators to manage the support offered locally.  Sir Alan has begun conversations with stakeholders and has visited local areas, and will produce a final report in December 2020.  If you have been contacted to take part in the progress review, thanks for your support. 

If you have any thoughts or comments for Sir Alan, you can contact him direct via

Supporting Families: Investing in Practice

The Supporting Families: Investing in Practice (SFIP) programme is progressing well for all models: Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDAC), Family Group Conferencing and The Mockingbird Family Model. All local authorities will be ready to start 1 April 2020.

The FDAC model will now follow three strands:

  • Strand 1 will allow a quasi-experimental evaluation of the impact of FDAC compared to standard practice under the current regulatory regime.
  • Strand 2 will involve a pilot evaluation of FDAC mentoring and post-proceedings programmes in 4 local authorities.
  • Strand 3 will test interventions that aim to increase the effectiveness of FDAC, by introducing light-touch support to increase families’ engagement with the programme, for example encouraging family attendance in meetings or improving access to additional existing services either before or after proceedings. WWCSC have commissioned an organisation to develop a series of light-touch interventions and an independent evaluator will be appointed to determine the effectiveness of the proposed interventions.

Due to the limited number of constellations that can be set up over the life of the project (2 years), the Mockingbird Family Model will now be evaluated using a quasi-experimental design that will combine data from the SFIP models with historical data to ensure the evaluation is statistically valid.


Did you know that anyone can nominate someone for an honour?

We are currently gathering nominations for the New Year Honours list 2021. We are inviting you to help us to recognise the achievements of individuals that you work with that make an outstanding difference to the lives of children and families.

If you know a fantastic practitioner, manager, leader or director who has made a substantial difference to children and young people’s lives, please do get in touch with us. As we usually receive nominations for managerial staff, we are particularly looking to give recognition to the achievements of frontline workers.

The honours nomination form can be found here and all you need to do is fill in the form and return it to and we will work on the nomination from our end and let you know if we need any further information.


This newsletter is a platform to share learning from the Innovation Programme and where relevant innovation in CSC more broadly. If you have any views on how we can structure the newsletter differently or if there are articles you have enjoyed, we would love to hear from you. Please email with your thoughts.

You can keep up-to-date with the latest developments from all of our Innovation Programme projects via our twitter feed. Our twitter handle is @csc_innovation or view the Innovation Programme

Want to hear more about Innovation Programme projects?

You can keep up-to-date with the latest developments from all of our Innovation Programme projects via our twitter feed. Our twitter handle is @csc_innovation or view the Innovation Programme website.
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