Coventry City Council

The results

Skylakes was allocated referrals involving 1909 children during the project.

1599 children were attended to by Skylakes RAS teams, resulting in 56% requiring no further action from social services and 23% being stepped down for family support services.

Of the 310 children allocated to the Skylakes’ CIN team, almost 50% (150) of cases were closed following successful implementation of our 8-week intervention programme.

Handling a high volume of cases enabled the council to focus on clearing backlogs and achieving lower caseloads, addressing the concerns raised by Ofsted. This increased the timeliness of visits to children and families.

With 56% of RAS cases needing no further action, we identified key factors intensifying the amount of NFA cases coming in for referral and assessment. This involved looking at organisational pressures, including those influenced by partner agencies, to ensure that real change was delivered.

With our team manager working at the council’s offices two days a week, we established innovative ways of working with partner agencies in line with the newly established MASH, with the aim of delivering a more robust, long-term RAS model that is fit for purpose.

Project Highlights

  • Coventry City Council
  • April 2014 to February 2015
  • Managed 1909 children
  • 21 Skylakes social workers across 3 teams
  • 56% of RAS cases required no further action

The challenge

Following an inadequate Ofsted rating in January 2014, Coventry City Council knew it needed to act swiftly to implement an improvement plan. Like many local authorities, it was caught in a cycle of responding to new cases coming into its Referral and Assessment Service (RAS) when already faced with extremely high caseloads. This was affecting both the timeliness and quality of assessments, resulting in children not being seen quickly enough.

Skylakes was appointed to work with the council to provide a positive and timely response to Ofsted’s inspection, whilst acting as a critical friend to develop and deliver a robust, long-term RAS model.

Our approach

Following an analysis of the demands faced by the council’s RAS team, Skylakes implemented a model that has seen us drastically reduce frontline pressures at a number of local authorities.

New referrals were averaging 120 per week. It was essential Skylakes acted rapidly to provide capacity to support the council’s RAS team to facilitate the clearance of backlogged cases and improve frontline services for children and their families in Coventry.

We mobilised 21 highly qualified Skylakes social workers to work on a rotational basis across three teams. This included two duty RAS teams of seven and a Children In Need (CIN) team of six; each supported by a team manager.

Our methodical approach enabled us to assess and progress cases involving 1909 children to a point of step down or closure whilst practising with safe caseloads. At any given time, less than 10% of the RAS teams’ cases remained open for over five weeks.

Our team managers worked in the local offices at least two days each week to ensure close communications with council managers and other agencies. This enabled us to make sustainable improvements to the RAS and CIN services.