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Regional Care Co-operatives

Regional Care Co-operatives

When I was a small child in the late 50’s and early 60’s the Co-op was a big deal. Properly the Co-op was an abbreviation for the Co-operative Wholesale Society formed in the 1860’s by the Rochdale Pioneers. I knew nothing of this just that it’s where most families bought their groceries. Being a Northerner (and the streets less busy) I was often sent to the ‘Coey’ to get some ‘messages’ (Scouse for shopping). As I left home my mum would always check that I remembered the ‘divi’ number. This was our ‘dividend’ and for every penny spent we would receive an unimaginably small part of the “co-ops’ profit. It was a mutual society where everyone had a stake which was to the benefit of all. I would recite, “116926”, see 60 years later I still remember it, and be sent on my way.

Will Regional Care Co-operatives conform to these commendable standards?

They could.

If they are genuinely to be for the benefit of all there must be principles involved and these principles must be adhered to.

Who might the beneficiaries be? Well, in a genuine ‘co-op’ it’s everyone. Being a member of a co-op means that the organisation must have integrity and be trusted by all of its members. In the case of the RCC this must include:

  • The children
  • The Commissioning bodies (LA’s)
  • The suppliers (care providers)
  • The employees of both Commissioner and Providers.

How, in the complex world of residential child care might this be achieved? It will require that each RCC will provide a planned facilitating environment for each, every and all children in care designed to meet their identified, individual needs.

NCERCC is designing a specification for the RCCs. Here is an early sharing of the thinking

  • The strategy of each RCC must be directed by a regional needs audit – this determines how many, of what, where
  • The ‘great and the good’ leading an RCC must, in partnership with others such as economic forecasters, academics and policy makers establish a robust, reliable and accurate means whereby trends can be identified, forecast and provision created.
  • The primary task of the RCC is specificity not sufficiency
  • Placements will be determined exclusively on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the child’s needs
  • The Registered Manager of each children’s home will determine admissions with an absolute authority to refuse unsuitable placements based on the statement of Purpose and Matching criteria 
  • Regardless of ownership all children’s homes in a region will be included in the RCC.
  • Ofsted will not accept applications to open a children’s home, regardless of ownership, without membership of the RCC.
  • All placements will be at nil net cost to LAs
  • Not using unit costs – a formula needed for individually costed placements – = cost + reinvestment %.
  • Workforce development for all homes to be provided by Reg Care Coop
  • The workforce will comply to training and experience requirements  established for the region.  
  • The management and supervision of staff must comply with standards set by the RCC.
  • Collectively negotiated pay, terms and conditions will be contractual across all homes in RCC
  • No children to be placed outside of RCC area unless the criteria for secure children’s home is met and no such home exists within the region. In this case the child must be placed as close as is possible to the region.
  • No children to be placed inside the RCC area from outside of the region.
  • There will be a central pool of IRO’s centrally managed by the RCC and NOT working in LA silos
  • R44 (Independent visitors) to be provided by and answerable to the RCC
  • All RMs and RI’s to be endorsed by the RCC
  • R45s to be overseen by RCC analysed and used for solution focussed support identification of trends and Regional training programmes
  • Oversight of RCCs by new monitoring and improvement agency
  • There will be no market mechanism – no undercutting, or subsidy
  • There shall be no outsourcing of services to avoid pay, terms and conditions. Pay, T&Cs, will be collectively negotiated
  • Commissioning changes from transactional to relational
  • Each RCC will facilitate consultancy services, psychiatry, psychology, therapy for all homes, based on the assessed needs of resident children = new nationally organised CLA knowledgeable and experienced people. This will not be local or forensic CAMHS.
  • Board of trustees to be an independent cooperative including balanced representation from LAs, Independent and Third Sector providers, staff, children, children’s advocacy organisations, members of the Safeguarding partnership.   Decision making will be by consensus not majority voting.
  • LAs will be required to provide an annual explanation of the numbers of children using the RCC.
  • The numbers of children using the RCC will be actively monitored. LAs bringing a proportionately greater number of children into the RCC will be required to present a good explanation to the Board of Trustees as to why their numbers are higher, or increasing. Peer support can be arranged by RCC LAs
  • RCCs will form National Steering Group to create and enable national resources. This group will be independently chaired by an acknowledged expert in residential child care. This group will feed ‘down’ to members and ‘up’ to the DfE to share learning and good practice across all regions.