The Every Child Matters agenda requires much closer working between different children’s services. Lauren Revans reports on a new framework to underpin joint commissioning
Last month , the government published a new framework aimed at helping all local authorities in England to redesign their children’s services.
Currently, thousands of staff working in children’s services and children’s trusts plan and commission around £10bn of children’s, young people’s and maternity services each year. Yet examples of joint planning and commissioning are often limited to specific services such as children and adolescent mental health services and youth offending teams.
The Joint Planning and Commissioning Framework – based on early lessons from the 35 children’s trust pathfi nders, and written by a wide range of professionals – aims to spread this
collaborative approach to people working in all sectors of children’s, young people’s and maternity services (see The Process).
The idea is that, by involving a wider range of partners in planning and providing services, children’s trusts will be able to improve outcomes for children, young people and their parents in their
local area – and save money.
But none of this will happen overnight. The government predicts that the process described in the framework will take some local areas up to fi ve years to implement. Before children’s trusts can even consider introducing the framework, key issues such as the shift from reactive to preventive services and the effective involvement of service users must be addressed.
In the long-term, though, the government is pinning its hopes on joint commissioning as the way forward. Speaking at the framework’s launch, care services minister Liam Byrne said: “If children’s trusts can get this right, it has the potential to be one of the main drivers to improve outcomes for children and young people.”
➜ Framework from www.everychildmatters.gov.uk
1. Understand local needs:
Children’s trusts should start by pulling together the key data on children and young people’s health, development and well-being across the five key outcomes areas.
2. Analyse the data collected:
Assessment of data should look at groups of children, young people and parents-to-be to better understand local universal and specialist needs, as well as how services can be made as accessible as possible.
3. Find out what everyone involved thinks:
Quantitative data should be combined with qualitative information from children, young people, families, carers, the community and professionals from all partner organisations.
4. Write the Children and Young People’s Action Plan:
The plan will reflect the needs assessment and national and local priorities, and all partners should be involved in writing it.
5. Plan services:
The broad pattern of services has to be decided in order to achieve the priorities and outcomes set out in the Children and Young People’s Plan, and there should be an increasing focus on prevention and early intervention.
6. Decide how best to deliver outcomes:
Each children’s trust will need to set up a single joint commissioning unit made up of several teams across sectors. The unit will work with children’s services practitioners who plan and commission individual tailored packages of care.
7. Commission from pooled budgets and resources:
Pooled resources ensure that a children’s trust is focusing on meeting the needs of a child or young person rather than discussing who should pay for and deliver what. The Children Act 2004 is the most inclusive pooling power, and local area agreements can also bring together all local authority and some health budgets for children’s, young people’s and maternity services into a single pot.
8. Develop the local markets and workforce:
Children’s trusts should map out local children services and decide what should be contracted out, how smaller providers will be supported, and how services can be more personalised. Workforce planning should cover statutory, voluntary, community and private staff.
9. Monitor and review the process:
Review results should be used to determine which services are working well, how well markets are being developed or are changing, whether the earlier needs assessment was accurate, and how well the Children and Young people’s Plan is being implemented.