North Yorkshire gives a lead to UK’s children’s services

This story was published 20 September 2017

Directors and other senior leaders from children’s services across the country will meet next week to hear how North Yorkshire County Council’s ground-breaking programme for looked-after children and young people has led to rapid improvements in their liv

Staff and young people during visit to Scarborough hub

Sir Martin Narey, former director general of prisons for England and Wales and former chief executive of Barnardos, who is chairing the high-level conference in York on Monday (September 25) says No Wrong Door stands out for ambition, innovation and high expectation in the support it offers to the most troubled and challenging young people.

The Government has recently backed his recommendation that No Wrong Door is rolled out to other authorities.

Next week’s conference, which will be addressed by Isabelle Trowler, the UK’s chief social worker for children and families, has been called to launch an evaluation report of No Wrong Door by Loughborough University.

The report shows that over the last two years No Wrong Door has supported and significantly improved outcomes for 350 young people in North Yorkshire. The county’s population of children and young people in care has fallen substantially since No Wrong Door was set up two years ago and the vast majority of young people (86 per cent) referred to No Wrong Door remain out of the care system and the use of residential placements has fallen by half.

The vast majority of young people supported by No Wrong Door remain in education, employment or training and levels of criminal activity have reduced by almost 40 per cent.

No Wrong Door replaces traditional council-run care homes with hubs which combine residential care with fostering. North Yorkshire has created two hubs, one in Scarborough to serve the east of the county while one in Harrogate serves the west.

Each hub has a dedicated team trained to focus on solutions rather than problems. Each team includes a life coach, who is a clinical psychologist, a supportive police role and a speech and communications therapist. It also includes residential care home beds; emergency residential beds; community foster family placements; supported accommodation and supported lodgings and outreach support.

Consistency is the key and each young person has one key worker who sticks with them throughout to prevent them being passed from pillar to post. Families and young people are supported to stay together and work together whenever possible.

No Wrong Door delivers an improvement in services while saving significant amounts of money – avoiding the high costs of placement breakdown, of having to use out-of-authority care and preventing young people’s descent into the very expensive criminal justice system.

Only one young person has been placed out of area since No Wrong Door started two years ago. Given that it costs around £8,500 a week or more than £400,000 a year to place a young person in care outside the area of the local authority, this improvement delivers substantial savings.

The report shows that the effects of No Wrong Door in reducing offending behaviour and missing from home incidents – which have halved – has led to a saving of £200,000 to North Yorkshire Police during the first year alone.

No Wrong Door works hand-in-glove with the county council’s prevention service, which provides intensive 24/7 support for families combined with therapeutic intervention for young people to create more stability and positive opportunities.

These initiatives, alongside developments which create high-quality, consistent social work, are securing a £2m year-on-year saving for North Yorkshire.

“This evaluation report confirms what we already know,” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, “that No Wrong Door really does improve the life chances of our most vulnerable young people. The No Wrong Door team is uncompromising in its belief that through the right support even the most challenging children can move forward. We are extremely proud of what is being achieved.”

Picture: James Cliffe shows Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening feedback from young people at the east hub during a visit early this year.