Background and Challenges
Two North West councils needed to merge their adoption services for looked after children in line with the Department for Education’s (DfE) agenda to create a Regional Adoption Agency (RAA). The project was to consolidate the adoption services of two local authorities which differed greatly in size, operational model and level of demand for adoption services.
The key challenges were:
- Developing shared ways of working between two local authorities, one of which was much smaller and was previously part of the larger council until it became a unitary authority in the 1990s.
- Managing relationships and expectations between the project board of local authority Directors and the DfE.
- Developing the fundamental legal, HR, financial and operating model for the RAA, including developing a legal agreement, information sharing agreement and a secondment agreement for staff to formally set up the new partnership service.
- Designing and agreeing a financial model that balanced the needs, budgets and risk appetites of both authorities, which differed significantly.
- Carrying out meaningful consultation with staff, service users and voluntary sector partners to develop best practice processes and establish a new brand identity for the RAA.
- Driving the change required to implement the RAA forward amongst significant audit, inspection and restructuring exercises in both local authorities, including four Ofsted inspections across their children’s services.
Trueman Change Involvement
Trueman Change provided change and project management services from inception to go-live of the new RAA. We lead a multidisciplinary project team made up of subject matter experts in social care to design and implement the new partnership service. We engaged staff and partners across both organisations’ support services such as Communications, ICT, HR, Finance, Legal and Information Governance to develop the right support infrastructure for the RAA to go-live.
We facilitated difficult decision-making between the authorities and the DfE and between the two authorities around service scope, staffing and the financial model of the new partnership service.
Outcomes and Solutions
- The RAA went live and is now delivering shared adoption services as a merged function, with a fully integrated financial, management and governance model.
- Staff, service users and internal and external stakeholders were engaged during the design process and helped shaped the future operating model with a focus on best practice.
- Both councils are now in a position to better manage resources, placing children quicker, from a wider pool of adopters.
- Skilled up multi-disciplinary project team members in change and project management techniques.