Strategic commissioning is about identifying the needs of the population and putting in place the right services to meet those needs. The term is used for all the activities involved in assessing and forecasting needs, linking investment to agreed desired outcomes, considering options, planning the nature, range and quality of future services and working in partnership to put these in place. Joint commissioning is where these actions are undertaken by two or more agencies working together, typically health and local government, and often from a pooled or aligned budget.
Central to the process of Joint Strategic Commissioning (JSC) is the greater requirement for services to gather evidence – that is, outcomes focused data based around the eight wellbeing indicators defined by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 – safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, included (SHANARRI) - and child population needs data as opposed to service output data. This will help local authorities meet their duties to report on outcomes, while at the same time enabling feedback into the commissioning cycle by linking investment to outcomes.
The Scottish Government is rolling out the Realigning Children’s Services (RCS) programme to support Community Planning Partnerships in making strategic commissioning decisions. RCS seeks to support local improvement in joint strategic commissioning practice, focusing on improved evidence collection and analysis and a strengthening of partnership working across children’s services – from statutory services to voluntary and independent providers of services to those who benefit, the children and their families themselves.
Where Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) is the methodology to assess an individual child’s need and required service input to meet that need, joint strategic commissioning is the methodology to assess and create children’s services that can meet the needs of its child population at the earliest opportunity. It utilises the improvement methodology central to the Early Years Collaborative to improve practice that can be evidenced to work better and seeks close collaboration and co-production of services with the local communities who use them.