Sixty Second Interview with Darren Shaw
By Amy Taylor
Fifteen local authorities in the South West have got together in order to jointly commission external placements for children. Darren Shaw, head of the children & families service at Gloucestershire Council talks to Amy Taylor about the project.
Where did the idea for the project come from?
We had the idea after the children and families sub-group of the south western committee of the Association of Directors of Social Services commissioned some research on our use of external placements.
When is the project going to start?
The project has been picked up by the South West Centre of Excellence [regional government bodies which help councils to make efficiency savings]. They are financially supporting it and offering support in the south west. We have just appointed a project manager. The commissioning group is in the process of being set up.
Why did you decide to start commissioning external placements as a group?
We [all the councils together] spend over £90 million a year commissioning children’s placements [from agencies, the voluntary sector and the private sector] and we are not necessarily getting the best outcomes for children. We are sending them to different parts of the country while other children are coming to the south west. Also it will allow cost savings.
Apart from the joint commissioning what else does the project entail?
There are several areas we are progressing. Setting up mechanisms for better sharing of information through a web-based database, so when local authorities are looking for a placement they will be able to find one that meets their needs better. They will also be leaving behind a fingerprint showing what the trends are.
We are also setting up a better partnership through a forum for the local authority and the providers.
Do you know of any other local authorities that are jointly commissioning services?
Yes, there are similar initiatives happening elsewhere, such as the pan-London consortium.