Northamptonshire County Council has been awarded almost £4million from the Department for Education towards the creation of its new children’s services organisation.
The new organisation will transform the way vulnerable children and families in Northamptonshire are supported and will be one of the largest alternative delivery models to be developed on a voluntary basis in the UK.
The grant from the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme will help to establish the new model, which will create flexibility to improve working practices and address issues around the recruitment and retention of permanent social work staff.
It comes as the Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill has written to the county council to praise the progress it has made in improving children’s services and confirming that supervision and intervention from the DfE is no longer required.
Mr Goodwill recognised the authority’s ‘good progress in building staff confidence, moving away from a culture of compliance and improving engagement with children and young people’.
County council director for children’s services Lesley Hagger said: “I’m delighted that the DfE has recognised our aim to transform the way we provide services for the most vulnerable children and families in Northamptonshire.
“This is a very exciting journey we are embarking upon and the new delivery model we are creating will enable us to bring our services together in locality-based team to give a more holistic view of the child’s needs and therefore reduce re-referrals.
“It will also mean fewer handover points, a single front door, a single assessment process, and more simplified and streamlined systems for frontline staff and managers.
“What’s more, the new organisation will give us the freedom and flexibility to tackle the issue of recruiting and retaining high quality staff with clear workforce development and progression pathways.”
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Matthew Golby said: “We are delighted that the Department for Education has chosen to award this significant grant to Northamptonshire to help with the introduction of a new innovative delivery model for children’s services.
“Our new children’s trust model will also give us the flexibility to improve working practices and address issue around the recruitment and retention of permanent social work staff to further improve the support we offer to children and young people across Northamptonshire.”
Northamptonshire County Council was one of 11 projects to receive a share of £36million through the Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund.
The new organisation will be commissioned by the county council to deliver services on its behalf, within an agreed cost.
It will also include a trading company to generate income by working with other sectors, including other local authorities, and a third organisation with charitable status to secure funding through grants and fundraising, and to work with voluntary and community sector partners.