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Children's Services Improvement

Enabling councils to deliver sustainable change as a result of system challenges, delivering rapid improvements as part of a long-term transformation.

The challenge

Children’s services sometimes get caught in ‘system lock’ – a vicious circle whereby increasing demand drives more work, lower quality practice, poorer outcomes and increased costs. This situation can then be exacerbated by a difficult inspection or monitoring visit, which tends to narrow the focus on change and improvement activity, lower risk thresholds and drive further demand.

Recognising the warning signs of system lock – and taking appropriate action to intervene before this is highlighted by Ofsted – is vital for the good performance and financial sustainability of any local authority.

Our solution

With bold leadership and appropriate support it is possible to break out of system lock or avoid it altogether. By enabling councils to reframe the challenge and grip the complexity in the children’s services system, we have proven that demand can be managed and improvement can be delivered in a scalable and sustainable way.

System-wide transformation is needed to shift the vicious circle of system lock into a virtuous one. This requires delivering change at scale and pace, and to know when and how to pivot from improvement to long-term transformation.

Recognising that each local authority will have its own context and challenges, the phases outlined below are expected to be interdependent and overlap, and are fully adaptable to local needs.

  • Stabilise and re-establish the basics: re-establishing and assuring safeguarding services (particularly in relation to workforce capacity), information recording and creating the space, capacity and conditions for change.
  • Grip and inclusive ambition: creating a culture of leadership, management oversight, learning and evidence-led action, under-pinned by primed performance and trajectory management, strategic and leadership advice/coaching.
  • Quality and innovation: embedding the short-term work outlined above, building on this foundation to establish continuous improvement in practice quality.
  • System sustainability: this longer-term phase of work centres on creating a system-wide shift towards early intervention and permanence to ensure sustainability of outcomes and cost.

IMPOWER are perceived as true partners rather than external consultants – they work alongside you the whole way, as a critical friend you can trust. They really care about North East Lincolnshire and want to make a difference. It is a unique relationship to have with a consultancy – I sometimes forget they are not internal staff!

JOANNE HEWSON, DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE / DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S SERVICES

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Get in touch if you’d like to discuss the challenges your organisation is facing.

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