Frontier report informs the DfE about ‘what works’ with innovative children’s social care programmes

The UK Department for Education (DfE) has today published an evaluation of an innovative children’s social care programme, Better By Design (BBD). The study, carried out by Frontier (Europe) and Ipsos MORI, evaluated the process of how BBD was implemented and the cost effectiveness of the programme.

BBD is funded primarily by the DfE as part of its Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme, and implemented by Achieving for Children, a social enterprise company created by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. The programme comprises a different way of working with young people who present particularly challenging behaviours. It combines social learning principles with collaborative problem-solving approaches to build the skills and capabilities of young people to help them manage their own challenges, difficulties and relationships in a different and more constructive way. Key potential benefits include:

  • more stable foster care placements, reducing the need for young people to be looked after in high-cost out-of-borough settings far away from the family home;
  • improved relationships within the family home to reduce the number of children going into care;
  • improved education attendance; and
  • reduced anti-social behaviour.

The study finds that the cost effectiveness of short-stay residential settings is heavily impacted by utilisation rates, given the high fixed costs involved, and that a clear and effective referral process is essential. It also highlights the need to ensure appropriate and timely recruitment, training and on-going support for Family Workers and foster carers responsible for young people with challenging behaviours. The analysis also highlights the valuable role of an appropriate communications strategy across a local authority and its partners in facilitating any new innovative approach.

Frontier (Europe) regularly advises public sector organisations in relation to health and social care policy.

For more information, please contact Saskia Nett on s.nett@frontier-economics.com, or call +44 (0)20 7031 7000.

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