Case Study

Collaborative working to improve
commissioning in children’s residential
childcare (NCERCC)
September 2009

Ov...
Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC)




 The centre currently serv...
Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC)




 for the placement of chil...
Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC)




 Working together and impr...
Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC)




     “The primary task of ...
Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC)




 •   Commissioners can see...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

Collaborative%20working%20to%20improve%20commissioning%20in%20residential%20childcare%20(Ncercc)[1]

417 views

Published on

0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total views
417
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
1
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
2
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Collaborative%20working%20to%20improve%20commissioning%20in%20residential%20childcare%20(Ncercc)[1]

  1. 1. Case Study Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) September 2009 Overview Jonathan Stanley is the manager of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) which acts as the principle reference point for all maters relating to residential childcare in England. Jonathan has worked at NCERCC since its inception over four years ago, working collaboratively with all those involved in or affected by residential child care. This document outlines some of the NCERCC’s work in helping to improve commissioning practices in residential childcare and discusses how this learning can be generalised and applied to other areas of commissioning. The National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERRC) The National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) is based at the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) within their social inclusion department. The Centre is a collaborative initiative aimed at improving standards of practice and outcomes for children and young people in residential child care in England. The centre is DCSF funded and has the support and commitment of key players in the sector. It focuses specifically on vulnerable children and young people living away from home in the full range of residential care situations including all types and sizes of children’s homes and residential special schools. Its mission is to have a significant and positive impact on the life chances of these vulnerable young people. The NCERRC aims to work collaboratively with and to target everyone involved or affected by residential child care, including: • Commissioners • Providers • Researchers • Practitioners • Regulators • Children, young people and their families Commissioning Support Programme 99 Waterloo Road London SE1 8XP
  2. 2. Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) The centre currently serves in an advisory capacity and as an information point for anyone involved in residential child care. Their aim is to become the principle reference point for the sector. Jonathan argues that the organisation is in a unique position in helping them to achieve this: “The first thing that we are very clear about and that we want everybody to understand very clearly is that we are neither a provider nor a commissioner. We are there in a third, independent role, able to explain, mediate, praise and maybe challenge as is necessary. We are involved with a lot of people, so our knowledge and evidence base is broad, from which we’re able to understand the themes which are current. We’re in a very privileged position, to be trusted, to be able to offer a view back to people and for it to be appreciated. We defend our independence and we value the trust that people place in us. However, we are always honest, and we always speak from an evidence base whether that be knowledge or experience. And if we don’t have an evidence base, then we say ‘we don’t know, but we’ll try to find out’.” Issues surrounding commissioning in residential child care and NCERCC solutions Outlined below are a number of issues related to good commissioning in residential child care services and some of the steps NCERCC have taken towards overcoming these issues. Whilst the centre’s work focuses entirely on residential child care and commissioners in other sectors may not have a sector-specific support group such as the NCERCC, the issues discussed below could readily apply to commissioning in general throughout all children and young people’s services. Lack of sector knowledge One of the major issues facing commissioners of residential care is a lack of sector knowledge or understanding. This issue sometimes extends to social workers and other professionals. In terms of actual numbers, relatively few children ever experience residential childcare therefore the vast majority of people, even in professional practice will rarely come into contact with children who are or have been in residential childcare. Further to this, social-workers do not always study residential care as part of their degree course or professional training. NCERCC has a practice development module on its website that aims to support a greater understanding of the sector but they impress it is very much a brief introduction which aims to lead people to further reading . The National Occupational Standard for commissioners of children and young people’s services could also be strengthened by requiring commissioners to demonstrate knowledge of the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce 1 as part of their professional competencies. In order to try to address the lack of sector-specific knowledge amongst commissioners the NCERCC have been actively contributing to the current developments around commissioning in children services and were involved in developing the national contract 1 The Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce sets out the basic skills and knowledge needed by people (including volunteers) whose work brings them into regular contact with children, young people and families. By using a common language, it will enable professionals to work together more effectively in the interests of the child and underpins successful integrated working. For more information see http://www.cwdcouncil.org.uk/common-core Commissioning Support Programme 2
  3. 3. Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) for the placement of children in residential homes 2 . The NCERCC have also produced a number of publications intended to educate and inform commissioners about the sector. Including: • 10 Top Tips for Commissioners re Residential Child Care 3 • What Works in Residential Child Care 4 All of the centre’s publications can be found on the NCERCC website under the ‘A-Z of Residential Child Care’ section 5 Dividing the sector into needs and marketplace Building upon the need of commissioners and other professionals to develop a good understanding of the sector the NCERCC believe the sector should be thought of in two parts; needs and marketplace. Commissioners must first have a good understanding of young peoples’ needs – in this case their care needs, and then must secondly gain an understanding of the marketplace of providers and solutions that can meet those needs. Problems in managing and developing the market in this sector were highlighted in a DCFS commissioned report on children’s homes and fostering 6 which calls for an audit of needs and providers of services in residential child care: “Barriers exist to further development of the markets, including a lack of transparency on costs; limited visibility of markets; a shortage of experienced managers able to successfully manage local markets; limited dialogue between suppliers and commissioners; inconsistent application of overall national commissioning frameworks; potentially conflicting roles of local authorities as commissioner and provider” 7 The NCERCC have put a lot of effort into encouraging commissioners and providers to work together They provide advice over the telephone to commissioners who have questions about issues relating to residential child care and encourage commissioners to take the time to visit residential care homes to experience the relationships formed between children and their carers. In terms of needs analysis the NCERCC believe there is a necessity for greater trend forecasting to predict future demand. For the residential care sector such forecasting could help predict the number of children likely to be affected by conditions such as foetal alcohol syndrome or autism. 2 Can be found at http://www.commissioningsupport.org.uk/pdf/National%20contract%20for%20the%20placement%2 0of%20children%20in%20residential%20homes%20(November%202007).pdf 3 Available to view at http://partner.ncb.org.uk/ncercc/ncercc%20practice%20documents/ncercc_top_ten_tips_for_commi ssioners.pdf 4 Available to view at http://partner.ncb.org.uk/ncercc/ncercc%20practice%20documents/whatworksinrccsummary_ncbhig hlight.pdf 5 http://partner.ncb.org.uk/Page.asp?originx_2730xj_63051222630485k57x_20072153518w 6 DfES children's services: children's homes and fostering London: PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2006 available to view at http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/research/data/uploadfiles/RW74.pdf 7 Ibid Commissioning Support Programme 3
  4. 4. Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) Working together and improving communications Through the experience of running the NCERCC and liaising with both providers and commissioners, Jonathan and his team have become aware of the importance of good, clear communication and collaborative working to improve commissioning. It is the relationship between providers and commissioners that is important.- providers need to have a good understanding of the role of commissioners and vice versa commissioners need to have a good understanding of the providers role. Communication needs to be informed, open and transparent . In order to improve communications between providers, commissioners and all others involved in residential child care, the NCERCC has created the Children’s Residential Network (CRN). This is both an email and ‘real’ network which provides the opportunity for information, advice, support and experience to be shared with the aim of enhancing standards in residential care .The network sends monthly email digests of all the latest issues and news and developments in the sector as well as hosting twice-annual meetings and regional events across the country and organising best-practice seminars. Cost versus quality of provision Following the Gershon Review 8 the debate around cost versus quality of provision is an issue that runs through all areas of commissioning. The Gershon Review outlines the scope for public sector effectiveness and efficiencies – particularly within the public sector's procurement and transaction service and policy-making functions. The NCERCC believes the original report equally balanced quality and quantity but that in its interpretation too great an emphasis has been placed on cost savings at the expense of balancing this with quality of provision. The NCERCC believes that that there is a need to emphasise and progress a parenting and child care perspective in the commissioning of children and young people’s services – resulting in commissioners, as part of corporate parenting responsibilities, considering the importance of the parental and caring role of these services alongside their cost. The centre has published a paper entitled “Commissioning is a parenting and child care activity” 9 which outlines a method for evidencing the balance between cost and quality of care provision. The NCERCC wishes to see: • Child-centred commissioning both in theory and practice • Recognition of the necessity for a collective and participative approach in the commissioning of Residential Child Care 10 . Jonathan argues that this brief paper provides an interesting and alternative perspective on Gershon and is worth reading in full. The papers executive summary states: 8 Releasing resources to the front line – Independent Review of Public Sector Efficiency Sir Peter Gershon CBE Available at http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.hm- treasury.gov.uk/media/C/A/efficiency_review120704.pdf 9 Available to view at http://partner.ncb.org.uk/ncercc/ncercc%20practice%20documents/ncercc_commissioning_desire_t he_link_between_intention_and_desire.pdf 10 Ibid Commissioning Support Programme 4
  5. 5. Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) “The primary task of this paper is to start a discussion…around the following question: What is the definition of quality we are using in planning placements for children and is it related to the task of caring for /parenting them? To date publications, and especially Gershon, have given definitions of the tasks and outcomes of commissioning in terms of finance and administration… Putting children at the centre of the commissioning process through the conscious use of child care thinking is an important balance for the positive developments made in regard of finance and administration. When parents make decisions about their children, they draw on their knowledge of the child’s needs and wishes and the relationship between them and the child. This paper outlines the basis on which we believe that commissioning should draw on a similar relational approach, informed by child development theories and driven by the desire to make a difference to looked after children.” Measurement of outcomes Finally, building on the need to assess provision by cost and quality measures, the NCERCC feels there should be a greater focus on qualitative measures when assessing outcomes of provision for children and young people. A qualitative measure of these outcomes would explore the affect such provision has had on the lives the of the young people in question – and aim to understand whether such provision had led to an improvement in their quality of life. In keeping with views on collaborative working, the centre is encouraging providers and commissioners to work together to define desired outcomes and ways to assess them from the outset. Lessons that can be applied to all areas of commissioning Several lessons can be taken from the issues and solutions raised by the NCERCC: • Commissioners should think of the sector in which they operate as having two distinct yet closely related parts – needs and marketplace. Commissioners should have a clear and detailed understanding of both parts of their sector in order to commission effectively. • It is clear from the NCERCC’s experiences that commissioners need to try hard to understand the sector in which they are commissioning and the issues surrounding that sector. Commissioners can improve their knowledge in a number of ways including talking openly with other sector professionals including providers, and other commissioners. In addition commissioners can try to understand the needs of the young people they commission on behalf of by visiting provider’s facilities as well as consulting with young people. This requires dedication to working collaboratively and having open and honest relationships between all those involved in the commissioning process. This is not easily achieved but it is something the Commissioning Support Programme is committed to helping achieve. • Commissioners should consider improving their knowledge and understanding of the Common Core of Skills and Knowledge for the Children's Workforce. Commissioning Support Programme 5
  6. 6. Collaborative working to improve commissioning in children’s residential childcare (NCERCC) • Commissioners can seek expert, independent advice from bodies such as the NCERCC or the Commissioning Support Programme. Other sectors have bodies similar to the NCERCC which can help provide advice about commissioning placements for children living away from home , for example , fostering has the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and schools have the National Association of Independent and Non- Maintained Special Schools • Finally, commissioners should reconsider their understanding of the implications of Gershon in providing services for children and young people in order to achieve a balance between cost and quality of provision. To find out more This case study is based on a telephone interview with Jonathan Stanley manager of the National Centre for Excellence in Residential Child Care (NCERCC) Email: jstanley@ncb.org.uk Tel: 020 7843 1168 Website: www.ncb.org.uk/ncercc Commissioning Support Programme 6

×