The Department for Education has awarded Leeds city council £9.6m to develop a centre of excellence for local authority children’s services.
The funding, which will be spread over three years, comes from the department’s innovation fund and will also pay for restorative early support teams and a restorative adolescent service in Leeds.
The council is rated ‘good’ by Ofsted and became one of the government’s ‘Partner In Practice’ authorities last year. The Partner In Practice programme is designed to help high-achieving local authorities share their knowledge more widely.
The centre of excellence will build on work in Leeds to help other councils improve services. It will run initiatives and events across England and focus on leadership, restorative practice, and how ‘front door’ services for handling referrals can be improved.
Steve Walker, director of children’s services in Leeds, said: “This funding will help us to strengthen our resources and the support available in local areas to ensure that families get the support they need at the earliest possible time.”
The restorative early support teams will be established in eight “high need” clusters before being extended to all neighbourhoods in the city.
The adolescent service funding will help recruit practitioners and additional experts in areas such as psychology and speech and language therapy to improve the way the council works with young people about emotional wellbeing and mental health issues.