A £1m award from the Department for Education’s innovation fund will help Croydon and five other south London boroughs lead the way on meeting the needs of looked after children.
The proposed scheme will improve access to high-quality residential care and fostering placements for children who are in the care of local councils.
The successful bid was submitted by six members of the South London Commissioning Programme, a partnership of 10 boroughs, which was originally set up by Croydon Council in 2013.
By combining their buying power and developing shared systems the London boroughs of Croydon, Merton, Sutton, Bexley, Lewisham and Greenwich aim to improve the supply of affordable, high-quality accommodation for looked after children. This will provide the young people with a safe and happy home life and help them reach their full potential.
“We’re delighted the DfE have seen the benefits of our proposals and now we can develop a blueprint that is scalable and beneficial to any other local authorities across the country who may want to follow our lead. Most importantly this will really benefit the children in our care as we increase the supply and quality of suitable accommodation across the region.”
Councillor Alisa Flemming, cabinet member for children, young people and learning
The award of funding will allow the boroughs to build expertise and develop systems that will significantly improve how they purchase services for looked after children.
As the partnership’s influence grows it is expected it will be able to help new businesses enter the market to provide the right services in the right places.
The proposal also includes work with current looked after children and their carers to involve them more in designing the shape of future services so they best meet their needs.
The partnership has already received widespread recognition for the work it has done to improve value for money in local government and has won accolades including the LGC Award for Efficiency. This was judged and awarded by the National Audit Office and was awarded for delivering enhanced services for children and young people with special educational needs across 10 boroughs – the first of its kind in the country.