The South Tees Multi-Agency Children’s Hub (MACH) working to deliver Early Help and Safeguarding, through collaboration of public sector partners.
Region: North East, Yorkshire and Humber and East Midlands
Theme: Integrated public services
There was a requirement to increase the coordination of children’s services across the South Tees area, challenging problems such as
- miscommunication between services on cases including the same individuals
- inefficient response rates and services not being received at the correct time for vulnerable children
- a lack of sharing information when attempting to safeguard children
all resulting in dis-benefits across two local authority areas.
The challenge was to bring together a multi-agency team across two local authorities, incorporating Early Help and Safeguarding Services to provide a timely response for children and families, across South Tees, to ensure they receive the right service at the right time to meet their needs and ensure their welfare.
There was a recognition of a lack of coordination between services across the two neighbouring local authorities, both working separately with their own ‘Front Door’ arrangements covering their area. These arrangements were single agency and didn’t have any benefit of partner agency involvement to inform decision making. Therefore, cases could easily move from one to the other with little information shared between the two organisations and caused an inefficient approach to safeguarding. There was an obvious benefit to bring these services together to create a multi-agency single point of access across the South Tees area, but there was a lack of resource across the partners to bring the project forward.
The availability of One Public Estate (OPE) funding was an opportunity to provide some dedicated project management resource to the project. In 2017, the partnership was awarded £75,000 to support project management and pre-procurement activities which was matched with grant funding from the CCG.
To ensure the approach was truly collaborative, the project has involved the TUPE of Middlesbrough Council staff to Redcar and Cleveland to bring them into one organisation. A building already owned by Redcar and Cleveland was identified as a suitable location and, through refurbishment works, has been developed into an open plan office environment with staff from each agency based permanently within the hub. To provide a joint approach to decision making, an Operational Meeting and a Strategic Management Board involving all partner organisations has been put in place to debate priorities and commitments of partner resources, identifying any major concerns or areas for further improvement/investigation and ensure the vision and values are upheld. There will be quarterly performance reporting into each of the partner organisations to provide oversight of the benefits of the hub approach.
A review of the MACH will take place within the first year which will report on performance, activity and ongoing resource requirements to ensure that the hub is delivering to the service standards set by the Strategic Board and the outcomes are being delivered as set-out below.
The MACH has already improved coordination between local services, with best practice having been shared between the two authorities. The hub is monitoring benefits such as;
- effective pathways for children and their families (the right pathway/the right services)
- improved rates of response to referrals with timely decision making and less delay associated with information gathering
- a reduction in the number of re-referrals
- an increase in the number of children and families supported through common assessment and early help
- services to be judged as a minimum of ‘good’ through external scrutiny
- a reduced number of inappropriate contacts and referrals to specialist services
- a reduction in number of section 47 enquiries.
The main benefits to children and families are those that capture information in a timely manner, ensure timely decision-making, consent being more clearly understood, reduce inappropriate referrals, improve the quality of referrals ensuring the right support to families at the right time, as well as the expectation that there will be longer term impact due to early intervention and prevention.