As part of the Welsh Government’s Delivering Transformation Grant programme 2019-20, ADSS Cymru examined the rebalancing of social care provision in Children’s Services. The Report including an Executive Summary and a detailed appendix have today [27 August 2020] been published and are available here to download by clicking on the adjacent link. The Executive Summary will shortly be available in Welsh.
The main findings were:
- In 2018-19, local authorities commissioned nearly 200,000 nights of care for children. Private sector providers delivered 85% of children’s residential care. Local authority foster cares provided approximately half of all foster care (49%).
- The existing twin-track approach to manage current demand and to stem the demand by earlier intervention needs a significant boost, backed by more investment and other forms of support, better use of existing resources, and more flexible funding.
- Prevention and early intervention continue to develop but need to be increased if there is to be a real prospect of reversing the upward trend in numbers of looked after children. Local authorities are committed to doing more.
- There are good examples of local and regional commissioning developments, but a more strategic commissioning approach is required in all areas.
- The position on rebalancing varies across residential care, domiciliary care, foster care, and adoption.
- There is a significant imbalance of power in the children’s residential care market, which is affecting placements and choice, the ability to make the best match to a child’s needs, the workload, and the outcomes for children.
- There is a strong view that the aim of any re-balancing must be to develop stable, resilient markets, which offer options and choice, quality care, fewer placement breakdowns, and good outcomes for children.
- Reducing cost is an acceptable goal of rebalancing. However, driving down costs and ‘the cheapest option is best” must not be the prime objectives. Quality care and good outcomes must come first.
- An “optimal balance” of provision is seen as a difficult concept. Local circumstances vary. There is no support for one balance figure to be applied uniformly across all local authority areas. For each area, the “optimal balance” or in other words, the “best” or “ideal” balance, should be driven by core measures e.g. whether children receive what they need when they need it, where they need it, and achieve the right outcomes.
- Rebalancing is part of the solution to reverse the upward trend in the number of looked after children but attempting it without also addressing the other matters highlighted in the report would be self-defeating and could have unintended consequences.
ADSS Cymru will engage in discussions on the recommendations of the report and action to take forward the findings of the research. For more information, please contact the ADSS Cymru Business Unit on 01443 742641.
Click on the Download option to access the report