Access to Resources Team (ART)
The strategic priority for ensuring the 11 Commissioning Products are in place to achieve the 12 key requirements by March 2020, is to firstly realign all elements of the commissioning and business processes into a co-located, single team responsible for managing the existing disparity of processes and spend and providing an expert knowledge on local resources available to our LAC population. This will be achieved via the introduction an Access to Resources team (ART). The ART is expected to commence from the 1st of April 2017.
The ART will be operating under a ‘supermarket model’. Essentially on the shelves will be access to a wide range of services for example: child minding, domiciliary care, outreach, mentoring, foster care, residential services. It is not reasonable to expect lead professionals working with children to have up to date information regarding the range of provision available. As such the ART will maintain this in-depth knowledge of a range of services available in the local area and neighbouring authorities and maintain relationships with these services utilising various contractual arrangements where appropriate. This knowledge and strong (contractual) relationships with a range of services is essential for increasing sufficiency and driving down costs.
The ART will operate both strategically and on an individual basis. As well as leading on commissioning strategies and managing tenders for services, it will receive referrals from a range of lead professionals who require a service for an individual child.
In relation to placement finding, the ART will consider the referral, working closely with lead professionals to ensure that referral information is strength-based, accurate and useful with the voice of the child at its core. The ART will then be creative and resourceful in providing a choice of placements / services that will meet the child’s individual needs. All referrals are unique and referrals will range from seeking a temporary for a child with relatively low needs to co-ordinating a multi-agency team to identify a specialist residential placement for a child with extremely complex needs within a critical timescale. The complexity of the child’s needs and the time available are the key factors in finding the most appropriate placement. The most appropriate placement for a child will be based primarily on their presenting need underpinned by the requirement to place them as close to the borough as possible whist achieving the best value for money. The decision regarding which is the most suitable placement for a child will rest with the Social Worker and their Team Manager and the authorisation of placements will be strictly overseen by those who have the delegated financial authority. The same process will be applied to all referrals and each referral will be ‘project managed’ by a member of the ART team.
The ART will be responsible for leading on market management, co-ordinating and administering referrals, negotiating terms and conditions, invoicing and contract management, dispute resolution and general provider / purchaser enquiries. The ART will be monitored on the basis of achieving the key requirements set out above via the identified commissioning products.
It is anticipated that the ART will free up capacity for Social Workers to concentrate on the Social Care part of the role therefore making a significant difference to their work and this has been evidenced elsewhere where an ART is in place.
In order to develop a knowledgeable, experienced, qualified and effective ART team, a number of existing posts will need to be transferred into the team, for example officers from: commissioning, finance, and business support. Some ‘New’ funding may be necessary to recruit additional team members in order to achieve the statutory outcomes expected of the ART. Any additional investment will be offset against savings that can be made by the functioning ART team and it is anticipated that the cost of the team will be more than covered by the savings that it will achieve.
Currently the Council faces challenges in relation to capturing information about the quality of placements for use in the management of contracts and service development activity. The ART will develop a robust, systematic performance and risk monitoring system that will ensure that they are aware of successes in achieving outcomes or otherwise and the stability of a placement which will ensure that additional services can be provided if necessary or funding negotiations can take place.
The general email address is AccesstoResources@reading.gov.uk