Interim Learning Report for the Innovation Programme.

We are delighted to present the Interim Learning Report which is based on learning and reflections from the mid-point of the Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme (summer 2015).

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme is intended to find and fund bold new approaches to transforming outcomes for children and young people. Launched by the Children’s Minister, Edward Timpson, in 2014, the £110 million programme supports 53 projects across England over two years to deliver three key objectives:

  1. Increase the life chances of children who receive help from the social care system.
  2. Create stronger incentives and mechanisms for innovation, experimentation and the replication of successful new approaches.
  3. Achieve better value for money across children’s social care.

Through their work in tackling these specific challenges, the projects are exploring and demonstrating what it takes to lead innovation in children’s social care. Key approaches required for leading innovation have emerged across four distinct levels of the system, which are:

  1. Social work methods and practice that focus on strong relationships and shared decision-making
  2. A workforce culture that creates an enabling environment and common practice between professionals
  3. Leadership and governance that brings teams and organisations together around a practical vision for improving the lives of children
  4. System conditions that enable new approaches to embed, flourish and scale

Fundamentally, these approaches are about the relationships that must be built in order to create, embed, sustain and grow innovation – relationships between children, families and professionals; between professionals within organisations; between front-line agencies; and between providers, commissioners and policy-makers across the system.

These four levels are interdependent. New practice will fail to embed without a workforce culture that supports practitioners to learn and adapt. Embedding new ways of working together requires strong and collaborative leadership. And any innovation will remain locked at source without the surrounding conditions in place to grow. Sustained, transformative and system-wide innovation is possible only when the right levers are being applied at every level. What the innovation projects are demonstrating is the breadth of ways in which these levers can be pulled.

The progress demonstrated by projects, the enablers to innovation they have identified and the system barriers they are uncovering all raise questions for the sector on how new approaches in children’s social care can be best developed and supported. These questions will be explored further over the next six months of the programme.

Thank you to all 53 projects who provided invaluable content and feedback. We are building on this report to shape programme learning in the future and would welcome your comments and questions about the report. Please email innovation@springconsortium.com.

Full report is available to download here