Mutual Ventures

DfE Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme

Since 2014 the Department for Education (DfE) Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has been working across the sector to support the development of innovation; encompassing a range of different types from new and radical approaches to delivery of small aspects of children’s social care, to re-designing local systems, to scaling and spreading successful innovation across a region. The programme provided £100m in grant funding to support innovation in its first two years and a further £200m was committed in 2016 for the following four years.

MV has worked with individual projects and the Department to:

  • Design and run the grant application process;
  • Coach 40+ projects to develop their ideas, identify the outcomes they are seeking to deliver, and to deliver their project;
  • Provide focused technical support around financial and sustainability planning to a wider range of projects; and
  • Support the work of the programme to share learning about what is working with the wider sector.

Innovation Project Examples:

Hertfordshire – Family Safeguarding Hertfordshire (FSH) is a whole-system reform of Children’s Services which has improved the quality of work undertaken with families, and thereby outcomes for children and parents. It brings together a partnership including the police, health, probation and substance misuse services. A few key elements of the innovation project include:

  • Specialist workers with domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health expertise joining social work teams;
  • Training in Motivational Interviewing as a framework for practice for all staff;
  • A move to group case discussions; and
  • Structured tools to support direct work.
  • Attempting to provide practice-enabling factors, such as reduced caseloads and a new recording system.

During the Innovation Programme, FSH worked with 940 families. The evaluated outcomes from the project were very positive, including:

  • Small reduction in the proportion of families with a child entering care, from 12% to 10%;
  • Number of days children spent in care more than halved, from 20.5 days per family pre-FSH to 9.8 days post-FSH;
  • Families’ use of other services reduced after allocation to FSH; and
  • Estimated cost savings to Children’s Services from reduced care and child protection allocations in the first 12 months were £2.6 million.

Stoke House Project – Stoke Children’s Services Department were awarded funding from the Innovation Programme to develop a housing co-operative for young people who are leaving foster and residential care. The project provides young people with a home, for as long as they need it, in close proximity to each other to give them a sense of community. The young people are on the co-operative board and agree the rules and conditions of living there, giving them ownership, control and power over their own lives. They received support from facilitators who help them to navigate the complexity of becoming independent young adults.

MV coached the project leaders for 18 months on a range of issues including:

  • developing a vision for the project;
  • establishing the governance and relationships with the local authority;
  • creating the co-operative;
  • the specification of tenders for contractors;
  • identifying skills needed in the project team;
  • and generally troubleshooting as various issues emerged in the delivery of the project.

The young people moved into their flats in late 2016 and the project has recently been awarded further DfE funding to scale to five other local authority areas.