Implementation - Next steps
145. Publication of this strategy is only a starting point in delivering on our collective promises to improve outcomes for looked after children and young people. Legislation, policy and guidance do not have an impact unless they are delivered in practice on the ground. Some of the actions in the strategy are challenging but necessary. We are confident that the shared commitment across the sector will enable us to deliver them.
146. We recognise the challenge of resources that was raised by some stakeholders as we developed the strategy. We have already committed additional resources to continuing care, aftercare and kinship care as part of the 2014 Act and again in 2015 with over £10 million a year of investment in improved allowances for kinship carers. We see opportunities in a strategy that prioritises early engagement and permanence to shift resources from statutory intervention to voluntary support by reducing the number of children on long-term compulsory supervision. Where CPPs also adopt a strategic commissioning approach to children's services, this will allow a better understanding of needs in their area and a better targeting of resources and provision of services at the right time - reducing long-term demand and costs.
Tools for implementation
147. Throughout the strategy we have identified actions that are necessary to implement the priorities identified. These range from legislation, which is necessary but not in itself sufficient to deliver improvement, to hands-on support. We expect stakeholders to consider what sort of actions they need to take to deliver the priorities.
148. Through the 2014 Act we are making significant improvements to the lives of looked after children and young people. Over the coming period we will be consulting on, developing and implementing the regulations necessary to put the Act into practice. We will be working with stakeholders to understand how best to make the Act work as intended.
Guidance and Practice Notes
149. We are developing guidance to support implementation of the Act. We have also identified a number of other areas where guidance or practice notes may be useful, including on contact issues, permanence, and children who are looked after at home. These are issues where local practice may vary and there is value in clarifying legal requirements, policy intentions and in sharing good practice. In some cases, the need for a consistent approach across the country could justify statutory intervention ( e.g. through Ministerial powers of Direction, Scottish Statutory Instruments or Primary Legislation). We would use these tools following consultation.
Evidence and data
150. Data can be very powerful in driving improvement because it helps us understand needs, outcomes, processes and systems; helps us identify where improvements are needed; and tests whether changes are in fact improvements. In the strategy we have identified a number of areas where better data can lead to improvement; including for strategic commissioning, tracking permanence and foster placements. Two of the major programmes outlined in the strategy - PACE and RCS - have better data at their core and provide hands-on support to partners to develop this data. Our national permanence data will be used to improve practice locally and identify and share good practice nationally.
Learning and sharing practice
151. We will work with our partners to provide opportunities for learning and to share good practice for all those working with looked after children and young people. Programmes such as PACE and RCS and the resources to support them have been designed with this in mind.
Coaching and support
152. We have identified some areas of focus which we believe will benefit most from the provision of hands-on support to CPPs and partners to deliver improvement. The PaCT team at CELCIS was set up to provide direct support to local authorities to improve their permanence processes. Through PACE we are also providing support to areas to use improvement methodology in relation to permanence. The RCS programme also offers direct support to CPPs to develop strategic commissioning of services.
Monitoring and assessing progress
153. We do not intend to try to take a single approach to monitoring and assessing progress on the priorities identified in this strategy. Different priorities will require different approaches. For some priorities, such as the corporate parenting duties, there are already reporting requirements in place. For other priorities, the new data that is being developed through RCS, PACE and the new permanence data set will enable us to identify progress. We will also work with the Care Inspectorate to consider how the inspection regime can support improvement around these priorities. We also encourage all those involved in delivering the priorities in the strategy to provide us with feedback on progress, challenges and successes. We will report on progress with the strategy to CHIP.