Skip to main content

Coram’s Permanence Improvement Project

Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme Evaluation Report 24

Coram’s Permanence Improvement Project was intended to enhance the wellbeing of children who could not live safely at home, focusing in particular on cases where adoption was the permanence plan. Life chances for these children were expected to increase because less time would be spent in care. This would particularly include those children with the most complex needs, who would achieve stability and permanence at a younger age than had been the case previously. Project enhancement of local authority service capacity and capability would enable service impact and child outcomes to become self- sustaining. Exemplary practice principles, and methods modelled and confirmed as effective at the local level, could become replicated nationally.

Research methodology

The Project was designed ‘to impact on the lives of children by building the capacity and capability of local authorities to find permanent placements earlier for the children in their care.’ (Coram 2015). This would be achieved by extending and accelerating the implementation of a bespoke data-led and practice-based approach to local authority permanence planning, especially in adoption. Although piloted previously in a number of English local authorities to demonstrable effect, the current intention was to use Innovation Programme funding to trigger the extension and acceleration of the deployment of this methodology in a changing service context. The aim was to establish strategic partnerships with local authorities to enable multi-professional teams of Coram practitioners, consultants and analysts to be embedded in the local authority adoption service to tackle problems at a case level, having determined first whether those problems were isolated or systemic. Practice improvement would be generated by using Coram Consultancy alone or by introducing a Coram Managed Service model. The consultancy approach sought to improve practice by embedding a Coram consultant within the adoption service for the project duration (initially one year), supporting that core role with additional diagnostic input from a second consultant. This approach was introduced into the main project site (Buckinghamshire), where existing adoption service managers remained in post. In the Managed Service model, Coram staff took up the direct management roles and responsibilities for practice improvement at team and service level. This model was adopted by the comparison site. Consistent with available research evidence, the primary focus of intervention would be the removal of barriers to timeliness in family-finding for children, especially where adoption was the plan (Dance et al. 2010; Farmer and Dance 2015). Success here would result in the avoidance of costs incurred by having children stay longer than needed in care.