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Child protection systems failing older children

A joint study by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), and the Children’s Services Development Group (CSDG), which represents children’s services providers, states that a national outcomes framework should be developed as one of a range of measures to improve services for looked-after children and those with greatest needs.

Based on discussions with 16 local authorities, and providers of services, the report highlights that a formal definition for the term “outcomes” for looked-after children has yet to be defined.

“From our engagement with local authorities, families, young people and other providers, it is clear that achieving clarity on what the desired outcomes are is crucial to ensuring services effectively meet needs and improve the long-term chances of vulnerable children. The current system of diffused and often generic measurements varies significantly between local authorities.

The sector must urgently identify and agree to a number of short-term and long-term desirable outcomes, and the metrics that sit behind them, so that progress can be effectively measured.”

The report suggests that for the majority of young people desirable outcomes could include a mix of “soft” outcomes, such as increased levels of self-esteem, recognition of existing skills, and developing techniques to avoid conflict, as well as “hard” outcomes, such as entering education, training or employment, or achieving a vocational qualification.

The report also calls for greater support for commissioners through the development of national commissioning guidance.

“Commissioners require clear guidance to aid decision making. Stronger national guidelines for commissioners would not only support them in finding appropriate placements but clarify what is expected from providers.”

The report makes 14 recommendations, including:

Encouraging commissioners to collaborate with, and develop a sustained relationship with, providers

  • Handing more power to commissioners to enable joint ventures and partnerships with providers that can allow for innovation
  • Commissioning should focus on delivering children’s services in a “holistic way” rather than on the basis of short-term cost.
  • Providers should benefit from delivering consistently high-quality services via council tax reductions or payment-by-results