Manchester City Council (MCC) set out to transform their Children’s Social Care Services and improve the outcomes for children in the authority’s care. Facing high caseloads, drift, and pressure points within the system, the Council needed to fully understand the cohort of CIN cases, in order to assess what resources were required to meet future demand and ease the workload of their overstretched social services teams. The 429 children in need cases required re-assessment to determine whether they should be escalated to child protection, stepped down, remain open for review, or, if appropriate, safely closed. Opting to use a commercial partner was a way to rapidly understand this pressure, fast tracking service improvements.
The council undertook a comprehensive tendering process to select a partner for this project. Due to their demonstrable understanding of the council’s objectives and their commitment to quality, being well-known for their vigorous screening and in-depth compliance checks, HCL was chosen to deliver a fully outsourced case management solution.
HCL recruited a bespoke team to address this issue of children in need cases. In a mere ten days, all the candidates were sourced from HCL’s extensive database, using only those HCL had worked with before or that came recommended, ensuring the project team was made up of the highest quality social care professionals. Evidencing the high level of those recruited for this project was the Council’s request for several to remain in post after the project was completed to undertake further appropriate work with some of the cases they had been working. These members extended their contract for a further eight weeks within Children’s Services.
Three managers, sixteen social workers, and two administrative staff were recruited to work across three locations, for a ten week intensive case reassessment programme. Data was collected and circulated weekly on the likely outcome of each assessment and regular project team meetings and weekly manager meetings were held, to monitor progress. Additionally a thorough midway and end of project report was submitted to the Council.
Due to the high calibre of the project team, and HCL’s continuous support and supervision, all cases in the cohort were re-assessed on time, within budget, and to the strict quality standards Manchester City Council had in place.
- Clear, and relevant management information was provided to MCC regarding the cohort assessed
- The council was immediately notified of concerns that required escalation to senior management
- The social workers on the project team took full ownership for the cases in this cohort for the duration of the project
- A detailed exit strategy was developed, agreed with the Council and executed on time; this led to the transfer of the caseload to the appropriate individuals upon completion of the project
Over and above the original remit, the project provided a detailed diagnostic of the service provision, this included highlighting areas of potential risk and recommendations as to how MCC could improve service delivery.
The project immediately positively impacted the local authority, allowing Manchester City Council to continue with their transformation journey and to assess what resourcing levels are needed for the next twelve months. Additionally, the closure or stepping down of over 35% of cases has helped alleviate pressure on existing staff. The rapid commissioning and undertaking of this project has demonstrated Manchester City Council is an authority serious about making changes and HCL and the council will continue to focus on improving the outcomes of children in the authority’s care.
This project was crucial to MCC in their understanding of the cohort of CIN cases within their system; it provided sound evidence to inform of future work, capacity and development. We would recommend HCL to others.
Lana Shannon, Head of Children’s Transformation and Change, Manchester City Council