Headlines: May 17th, 2012

Most councils are developing a multi agency approach to children’s services ahead of the Government’s Community Budgets pilot schemes.

A survey of council children’s services staff found that 84 per cent of respondents said they were already working in or planning to work in multi-agency teams to help improve outcomes around children and families.

The results of the survey, which was conducted by Capita One, suggest that many councils are not waiting for the results of the pilot schemes which are trialling the pooling of budgets and introducing multi skilled teams to support the most troubled families. Although councils outside the pilot schemes cannot pool budgets, they can collaborate with other agencies to take a joint approach.

In another development ahead of the curve, academies and free schools are providing data on children to the council although they have no statutory obligation to do so. The survey showed that 64 per cent of respondents regarded it as very important for their teams to have access to this data.

Over 80 per cent of respondents believe that it is very important for their IT systems to provide a single data source so that outsourced services or multiagency teams can access a complete picture regarding past interventions with a child. The survey underlined the importance councils place on having a single view of a child’s data so that children’s services teams and other agencies have access to the information they need to best support children and their families.

Despite the challenges councils face, the results suggest that a number of staff remain positive about the future. Nearly 40 per cent of those who responded to the survey indicated that they were very confident in their ability to meet the needs of children and families over the next 3 years.