The Future of Children’s Services

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New Local Government Network (NLGN), in association with IMPOWER, is seeking to raise the profile of the demand pressure on children’s services and to set out a strategic response, which involves a strong policy framework and a series of recommendations for practical change at both the local and national level. The number of children in the care of local authority is at an all-time high. Meanwhile councils are having to do more with less, given cuts to funding in recent years. The research contends that in order to achieve better outcomes for children and families, there must be a radical sector-wide shift to prevention. To do so effectively, children and the community must be given greater agency and influence in shaping the future of children’s services.

The research will seek to highlight some initial drivers and modifiers of demand for children’s services based on interviews with practitioners including frontline workers. These causes of the demand challenge range from increasing prevalence of contextual challenges, socio-economic deprivation, and family breakdown to the influence of inspection and poor data, as well as variation in local policy and practice.

A core part of this research involves a series of in-depth interviews and focus groups which together provide crucial insights into the experiences of those on the front line of service delivery. Through the research we found that local authorities are already taking active steps to partner with the community in improving their children’s services with the firm belief that children and families should lead the future design of children’s services. These approaches followed by councils further underline some of the principles explored in our recent think piece the Community Paradigm.

Based on findings from these interviews and literature review, the research will distil a set of principles to help shape the future of children’s services around prevention. These will be supported with illustrations of innovative practices at the local level. It will culminate in a report which explores the key demand challenges and sets out a set of policy recommendations for both the national and local level, to help reconfigure children’s services around prevention through community action.

The report is scheduled to be published in September 2019.

For more information about this research project, please contact Pawda Tjoa (ptjoa@nlgn.org.uk).

Related blogs/articles
Recommendations Not Rhetoric: Time for change in children’s services by Olly Swann
The Future of Children’s Services by Sarah Lawson
A Persistently High Demand for Children’s Services by Pawda Tjoa