Council awarded £9.6 million to share expertise with other children’s services

The money is part of the government's innovation fund for children's services

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Photo: Momius/Fotolia

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.

Improving services

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.

5 Responses to Council awarded £9.6 million to share expertise with other children’s services

  1. sandy beach February 23, 2017 at 10:50 pm #

    bit of a strange one really?

    Look at the key points from Leeds budget proposals for 2017-18 -and they note the following points
    http://www.leeds.gov.uk/docs/Key%20points%20from%20Initial%20Budget%20Proposals.pdf

    Since 2010 there’s been a 47% cut in the money the council gets from Government to run
    local services. That’s over £214m less

    In 2017/18 we expect to see further cuts to the core funding we get from the government of
    about £28m. Together with rising costs and growing demand for our services this means
    the council needs to fill a funding gap of £75.3m next year.

    Children’s Services specifically:
    Reduce spend with suppliers through contract reviews – £1.3m savings.
    Reductions in Education Services Grant – funded activities – £1m savings.
    Children’s Social Work reduce spend on non-front-line and agency staffing by £0.9m.
    Increase income from trading our services – £1.3m.
    Increase nursery fees in Children’s Centres – £0.3m income.

    So l’m sure that some amendments could be made to procurement, contracts and agency staffing to cut some costings, nd l dont blame Leeds for taking this money however the above proposals come to about over £4 million?? (please correct if im out a little) and include a loss of staffing, so it will be interesting to see if Leeds can maintain its staus in OFSTEDs eyes in the longer term, whilst cutting in some areas to open a government sponsered white elephent to distract from the real issues around the authoriies that are failing, by spinning a myth that something undertaken in a diferent context can be repeated elsewhere with different cultures, caseloads and thinking and produce the same result.

  2. Londonboy February 24, 2017 at 1:05 pm #

    I have a hmm moment too..my ‘specialist area of expertise’ is very narrowly focussed on what is happening to/provision for children with autism/LD within Care. One aspect of this is how well the LA identifies these children in the first instance and keeps track of children’s diagnoses to establish numbers and needs of LAC with autism.( If you don’t know this, then really how competent a Corporate Parent are you?) From my albeit limited research via FOI requests, Leeds would not get any ‘gold stars’ on that front.

  3. Terry Unicorn February 24, 2017 at 7:03 pm #

    Fantastic! Bradford Children’s Services is a basket case. Bring it on!

  4. john February 24, 2017 at 7:19 pm #

    Lagging indicators are a terrible thing 🙂 . Seriously if this is the best the innovation fund can come up with then it is already a failed initiative.

  5. londonboy February 26, 2017 at 2:04 pm #

    Following on from my earlier comment, this is what I’ve established via research

    Leeds looks after 1253 children in its role as Corporate Parent of whom 17 have an autism ( including Asperger Syndome) diagnosis. This equates to 1.4% of its LAC cohort. To put this in context Walsall has 636 looked after children of whom 81 have an autism diagnosis. This equates to 12.7% of its LAC cohort. This by any measure is a startling variance.

    There are a number of possible reasons for it including :-
    • One LA is better at supporting disabled children at the edge of Care than another.
    • There is a clear path for diagnosis in one LA, whilst in the other unless a child has classic Autism there is no route to diagnosis.
    • One LA is recording autism diagnosis accurately whilst another is not.

    What makes me very uneasy is that the Leeds model is to be rolled out, irrespective of whether it is a good one of not, or analysis of what makes it good if so. It is my hypothesis (only that) that the Leeds model is particularly bad at identifying children within care with autism. I could be wrong and I suspect there are very few people who know the answer but none of these people are in the DfE or OFSTED.

    This is not an academic question as if the Walsall figures are applicable to Leeds then within Leeds there are 142 looked after autistic children without a diagnosis and potentially 142 children with unmet sensory and communication needs who are unlikely to be given an appropriate Pathway Plan and appropriate support when they leave Care. This is not a model that should be rolled out to other LA’s if so.