GM Market Position Statements
These market position statements are intended to be concise statements detailing need across social care service types.
- GM LAs want to place more children who need residential settings in their local area.
- A lack of residential childcare staff is having a critical impact on the availability of services in GM.
- Children with more complex needs are much less likely to be placed in GM, although more insight is needed to drive the specific service development needed to support this cohort of children and young people.
- We need more high quality Homes with clinically recognised specialist interventions which work with more complex young people including services that either prevent escalation to Tier 4 provision, or as a step-down transition from such a service.
Top 3 Sufficiency Challenges
There are not enough residential childcare staff right now to ensure Homes can operate at their potential full capacity. This leaves services unavailable and exacerbates insufficiency. There is also a shortage of Registered Managers.
The residential market is failing to meet the needs of children and young people with more complex needs. This includes genuine service gaps in more specialist / high acuity care across Greater Manchester.
Too much Greater Manchester based residential care supply is being lost to placements from outside of GM. We need Providers to do more to support local placements.
- To reduce the numbers of LAC that unnecessarily escalate to residential care because of a shortage of foster care availability.
- Growth of foster care is critical to achieving this.
- GMCA alongside the 10 GM LAs is working to finance, develop and launch a new Greater Manchester shared Residential Care Service consisting of multiple Homes delivering high quality care and building capacity in areas of under-supply.
- The launch of the GM Soft Block Pathfinder has given LAs a new partnership route to ring-fence capacity to ensure local services benefit local children and young people.
- Launching a GM-wide recruitment campaign for residential care careers, including the development of Skills Bootcamps for residential support worker roles.
- More emergency residential care that can offer short term/time limited high intensity placements to meet the needs of more complex young people while a permanent home can be found.
- There are not enough foster carers in Greater Manchester to meet the needs of our children.
- Despite demand for placements increasing, we have seen a decline in the numbers of foster carers across GM. It is essential that we see growth.
- Launching the GM Foster Carer Recruitment Campaign (Fostering Unfiltered) in 2023 will raise the profile of becoming a foster carer in the region.
- The growth in GM LAC numbers as been driven by a rise in numbers of 10 – 15 year olds, so we need to see more carers offering placements for teenagers.
- Staying Put is an important opportunity for young people and Ofsted has identified that its use is declining nationally and remains lower in IFA settings than in internal LA fostering services.
Top 3 Sufficiency Challenges
There are fewer Local Authority mainstream foster carers and Independent Fostering Agency carers across GM compared to 2020.
Very little capacity from IFAs offering more complex / specialist foster care placements. This includes supporting children and young people who are in residential care to move to a family based placement.
Too few LAC are being placed with IFA carers within their host LA
- Improve retention of foster carers, in particular a reduction in the volume of foster carers leaving the sector entirely.
- Increase recruitment of foster carers across GM, both to Local Authority Fostering Services and to IFAs.
- More opportunity to work closely and in partnership between GM LAs and IFAs, particularly in response to services for teenagers, sibling groups and those with more complex needs
- Growth of specialist foster care services, particularly care for children with complex health needs and disabilities. This may include models such as Mockingbird.
- To explore ways to work with the IFA market differently in order to see more LAC being placed closer to home.
- In recent years, demand for supported accommodation placements has grown the fastest pace of any children’s social care placement.
- There are wide variations in quality standards across the supported accommodation market.
- GM had a disproportionately smaller number of children moving into independent living, motivated largely by fewer children moving into supportive accommodation. Across GM, this was the equivalent of 130 fewer looked after children moving into formal support (-6% of the total population of those who ceased to be looked after)
- A GM Housing offer for care leavers in partnership with Greater Manchester Housing Providers (GMHP) provides care leavers the support they need to successfully move into their own home. Practical help including, managing a tenancy, paying bills, and budgeting can be provided. Many housing providers also have free employment and training offers, including CV writing, interview skills, and ICT courses.
- From April 2021 to March 2022 the proportion of GM care leavers who are described as being accommodated in a ‘suitable’ setting – that is, accommodation judged to be safe, secure and affordable - has declined to 88%. This establishes a trend of minor deterioration from the 2019/20 position of 90%, and places GM below the national benchmark for the first time in the same period.
- Service leads attributed this to challenges in terms of housing provision, and a lack of suitable options. In addition, there are specific additional challenges for care leavers requiring additional support, which creates further obstacles in meeting housing need.
- While not demonstrating a positive picture, it should be noted the rate of those care leavers in accommodation for whom we have ‘no information at all’ has increased over the previous 12 months. This will negatively impact the rate of those in ‘suitable’ accommodation, and is something which should be considered when viewing this data.
Top 3 Sufficiency Challenges
Despite welcoming the change, the introduction of Ofsted Regulation to the supported accommodation sector does initially raise the risk of instability, Provider failure and a workforce crisis that could limit service availability
An increase in demand for supported accommodation provision from Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) and challenges moving young people onto independent living is having an effect on capacity.
There is still a geographical disparity of services across GM with some areas under-supplied whilst others significantly over-supplied.
- Care Leavers are currently being consulted on the GM Housing Offer so that the choice of housing and the ongoing support provided can be improved.
- Agree a more consistent GM-wide Staying Close policy in order to increase the numbers of young people that are able to remain in their foster placement post-18.
- Risk assessments to be undertaken locally to ensure contingencies are identified if supply within the supported accommodation sector is reduced as a result of Ofsted regulation coming into effect.
- More connectivity within the placement supply chain is needed to strengthen links between Residential Homes/Fostering Services and supported accommodation in order to improve transitions towards independence.
- Expansion of Supported Lodgings services across GM. Again there needs to be focus placed on how this might affect foster carer numbers across GM and inadvertently affect sufficiency.