Specialist Commissioning 2012-2015

Provide your views on the Draft Children’s Specialist Commissioning Plan 2012 – 2015

The Children’s Specialist Commissioning Plan 2012 – 2015 sets out how Bristol will ensure sufficient high quality local placements able to meet the needs of children in and leaving care from 2012 – 15 and beyond.

All children require a happy, stable home life if they are to achieve their potential.  Children in care are no exception with those children who cannot live with their birth parents doing best if they can live with a family member or other person connected to their family. For those children who do require local authority care, a stable, well-matched placement where they can live until prepared and ready to leave, is the single most influential factor in improving children’s outcomes and creating the conditions from which they can go onto live successful adult lives.

In 2010, new statutory guidance[1] under the Children Act 1989 strengthened the duties upon local authorities in respect of children in care and imposed a new duty requiring local authorities to take steps that secure, so far as is reasonably practicable, sufficient accommodation within the authority’s area which meets the needs of its looked after children[2]. In so doing, it requires partners in the Children’s Trust to co-operate in order that the duty be most effectively implemented.

Children and Young People’s Services commission children’s foster care, residential care and post 16 supported accommodation placements from a mixed market of internal and external providers. Such placements are high cost and it is important that Bristol manages the market to ensure that placements are cost effective and of the highest quality.

The draft Plan sets out actions to deliver on three strategic priority areas:

(i)                 Support children to remain safely with their families

(ii)               Improve outcomes for Children In Care and Care Leavers

(iii)             Achieve value for money and reduce spend by keeping unit costs down

Are these priorities and the actions contained within the Plan the right ones to enable Bristol to deliver sufficient placements for its children and young people in and leaving care? The Draft Children’s Specialist Commissioning Plan is open for consultation until 10th January 2012.  Any comments may either be posted on the Blog below or e-mailed to ann.james@bristol.gov.uk. All comments will receive a response and will influence the final shape of the Plan to be considered by Cabinet on 26th January 2012.

[1] Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, sets out how local authorities should carry out the full range of responsibilities for looked after children. The Statutory Guidance on Securing Sufficient Accommodation for Looked After Children provides guidance on the implementation of Section 22G of the Children Act 1989, that requires local authorities to take reasonable steps to secure sufficient accommodation within its area – ‘The Sufficiency Duty’.

[2] For the purposes of this plan, the terms looked after child and child in care are used interchangeably and should be taken to mean the same thing.

1 Response to Specialist Commissioning 2012-2015

  1. Duncan Stanway says:

    I agree with the priorities as listed.

    In terms of focussing on children at risk of entering care, hopefully current work on pathways will improve the preventative responses. However, our experience of working with children who have a parent in prison, shows low level of identification of these children, often high levels of unmet need and clear evidence of them being a significant part of the children in care cohort.

    I appreciate this aligns with preventative strategy but a clearer focus on how to best work with this group of families leading to improved responses to thier needs would impact on the number of children on the edge of / coming into care.

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