Our response to the NAO's report exploring pressures on children’s social care
We are delighted to announce that iMPOWER has been shortlisted for the MCA Award 2013 category ‘Customer Engagement’ for our sector-leading work with three county councils to transform their approach to inspiring, recruiting and retaining foster carers.
Foster carers are one of our nation’s most precious resources and, as David Cameron has highlighted, we need many more. Over 7,000 more in fact.
Pioneering county councils Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire and Hertfordshire recognised that doing more of the same improvement work would only take them so far. To go beyond ‘Good’ they wanted to put the customer – the carer – right at the centre of their service. And to achieve that, they realised they must understand those carers much better.
This goes to the heart of our philosophy at iMPOWER. Efficient process and supportive ICT are key enablers for any business but will count for nothing if behaviours and relationships are not right. And our innovative and practical tools and techniques are helping our public service clients up and down the country ensure they identify and respond to the specific motivations of their customers to achieve the best all-round outcome.
The application of this innovative approach in foster care has put Buckinghamshire, Staffordshire and Hertfordshire County Councils ahead of national thinking. They are now on the front foot in the fight to control costs – releasing savings of 6% – and most importantly can ensure that 11% more vulnerable children will be placed in caring homes and receive better life chances.
Listen to Jeremy Cooper, Director, talk about the projects below.
To see the full MCA Awards 2013 shortlist please see the MCA website.
If you require any further information about the work that iMPOWER are doing on foster carer recruitment and retention please contact Jeremy Cooper, Director, on email@example.com or Alastair Thompson, Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7017 8030.
Here’s what our clients said about this project:
“Working with iMPOWER was a valuable and enlightening experience. The combination of Alastair’s knowledge, skills and use of technique quickly established a belief in the methodology, even for the most sceptical. The effort in understanding us put foundations firmly in place. We were helped to look at our service through our carers’ eyes and challenged on ways to recruit and how effective, internal processes were crucial to supporting this. It was ‘eye-opening!’
The Engagement Toolkit has been critical to us offering guidance on how to reach people with different values and motivations and was the basis for a brief for a new marketing plan for recruitment of new carers. It has supported an innovative approach using new messages and methods. The fostering team have embraced a new, positive approach to recruitment and beyond. Month one of the new campaign saw enquiry levels 200% higher than the same time last year.”
Sarah Ashmead, Head of Policy, Performance & Communications at Buckinghamshire County Council
“Our fostering service is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted but this is all the more reason to do more. This is why we partnered with iMPOWER on this innovative project. I expected a redesign of the marketing materials but the project delivered so much more. We are a very large service operating across different areas and functions and this work pulled our staff together. It is enabling us to work as a single team and achieve consensus which had perhaps been difficult before. The insight was fascinating and we now all share a new and common view of our ‘customers’ and a better understanding of one another. The outcomes would not have been possible though had iMPOWER not gelled so well with the team – all 55 of them. Rarely a week went by without a workshop! And most importantly of all, we now have heightened ambitions for extending our high quality service and finding the right placements at the right time for our children.”
Marion Ingram, Children’s Services Operations Director at Hertfordshire County Council
“iMPOWER worked closely with the fostering team to baseline current performance and develop a range of innovative approaches to measure the level of opportunity for Staffordshire to increase take-up to our already high performing in-house fostering service. The team introduced new concepts, such as Value Modes, and the effects of this fresh thinking was felt immediately, as together with iMPOWER we revamped the service’s approach to the crucial first meeting with potential new recruits. The new approach visibly showcased the benefits of being a foster carer more effectively and helped the team understand the numerous practical applications of this previously unfamiliar methodology. iMPOWER’s long term legacy is the way they have critiqued our past practices and constructively challenged the way we view communications with existing as well as potential new foster carers. iMPOWER’s collaborative approach has enhanced an already high performing team, with innovative thinking and fresh ideas.”
Richard Hancock, Assistant Director, Looked After Children, at Staffordshire County Council