Agenda item

Commissioning of Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service from 2020

(To receive a report from Bridie Fletcher, Commissioning Officer, which invites the Committee to consider  the Commissioning of Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service from 2020, which is due to be considered by the Executive Councillor for Adult Care, Health and Children's Services on 29 July 2020)


Consideration was given to a report from the Interim Director of Children's Services, which invited the Committee to consider the commissioning of the Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service from 2020, which was due to be considered by the Executive Councillor Adult Care, Health and Children Services on 29 July 2019.


Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was a copy of the Executive Councillor report and associated Appendices. 


The Vice-Chairman welcomed to the meeting: Bridie Fletcher, Commissioning Officer, Mark Rainey, Interim Strategic Commissioning Manager and John Harris, Head of Regulated Services - Fostering.


The Committee was advised that Barnardo's had delivered the Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service contract since 2007.  It was reported that the current contract had been in place since 2015, and was due to expire on 31 March 2020. The annual contract value was reported as being £1,258,038.  It was highlighted that the current contract could not be extended further.


It was reported that a service review had been undertaken and completed; details of the findings were set out in the Commissioning Plan detailed in Appendix A to the Executive Councillor report.


The Committee was advised that some changes had been recommended to the service model.  The biggest recommended change was the earlier allocation of care leavers to the service at age 16; this was to ensure that care leavers could be supported by their Social Worker and a Leaving Care Worker for two years prior to fully transitioning to the Leaving Care Service at 18.  It was highlighted that there were significant benefits expected from the twin-tracked approach, as it would provide opportunities to develop effective and collaborative relationships with young people and other professionals, as well as supporting young people to independence, whilst achieving capacity within in-house social care teams to support other vulnerable children and young people.  As a result of the projected increase in the number of care leavers, the Committee was advised that it was recommended to increase the service budget to £1.5m annually.


It was highlighted also that it was recommended that the Leaving Care Service was commissioned through an open competitive tender process with a maximum contract period of five years (three years with the option to extend for up to two further years). 


The Committee was invited to comment on the proposal and to indicate whether it supported the recommendations as set out on page 44 of the report.


During discussion, the Committee raised the following issues:-


·         Procurement Process – The Committee was advised that the tender would go out on ProContract, the Council's Tendering and Contracts System.  This would allow suppliers from the national and international market to consider the tender and ensure a competitive process.  In addition, the stakeholders involved in developing the proposals would also be made aware of where to find the tender.  Staff at the current supplier would have the right to transfer to a new service provider ensuring continuity of staff for Lincolnshire's care leavers;

·         Labelling of the Leaving Care Service – Consideration should be given to the naming of the service as a number of care leavers did not like it being called the Lincolnshire Leaving Care Service.  A neutral name (like Kooth for the online counselling service for children and young people) would be more acceptable to the young people;

·         Number of Care Leavers and Cost Implications – The Committee was advised that the number of care leavers fluctuated each month, but was around the 320 mark.  It was highlighted that the number of looked after children was increasing, with 24% now constituted of 16 and 17 year olds, which in turn was leading to an increase in the number of care leavers and creating cost pressures.  In addition, there was uncertainty over the future of Special Guardianship Orders requesting a Leaving Care Service and how many care leavers aged 21-25 years old who would come back to use the Information, Advice and Guidance extended service, which could cause further cost implications.  These cost pressures had been accounted for, and funding for the new Leaving Care Service for the five years from April 2020 had been identified and agreed, and that the cost pressures would be funded from internal efficiencies;

·         Support Provided to Care Leavers – The new service with the earlier allocation to Leaving Care at 16 year olds, while young people still received support from social workers, would enable a wider and more flexible level of support to be provided to young people to meet their individual level of need; and

·         Insourcing the Service – The Committee was advised that consideration had been given to insourcing the service, especially as insourced services at other councils had been rated as outstanding.  There were a number of risks with insourcing, the main one being the transfer of staff with the potential risk of losing some staff who may not want to transfer to the Council.  In addition, there would be extra costs to insource the service, and care leavers had highlighted that they valued the independence of an outsourced service from the Council.




1.    That the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee supported the recommendations to the Executive Councillor Adult Care, Health and Children's Services as set out in the report.


2.    That the comments as detailed above be passed to the Executive Councillor Adult Care, Health and Children's Services to consider when making a decision in relation to this item.

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