One door to a brighter future

By Stuart Carlton | 06 November 2019

North Yorkshire’s No Wrong Door model (NWD) brings together a variety of accommodation options, a range of services and outreach support under one umbrella, meaning young people’s needs are addressed by a single team.

Centred on two hubs, it replaces traditional council-run children’s homes with a range of integrated provision including residential care home beds, emergency residential beds, community foster family placements, supported accommodation, supported lodgings and outreach support.

Each hub has a dedicated, embedded team with a life coach (clinical psychologist), communication support worker (speech language therapist) and police role. Each young person has one key worker who sticks with them through thick and thin to access the right services at the right time and in the right place to meet their need.

NWD is much more than the interventions and practice in the hub – it’s about having the shared vision and values that underpin all practice. It fundamentally challenges traditional systems and practice and has radically improved the life chances of some of our most vulnerable and troubled young people, reducing the number ending up homeless or in the criminal justice system.

NWD has a set of provocations, the commitments that underpin and inform it. For example:

  • Would this be good enough for my child?
  • Are we managing risk for the organisation or risk to the young person?
  • A shared approach to parenting from across partner agencies.
  • What kind of adult do we want them to be at 20, 35, 50?
  • Young people cared for in family-based setting.

NWD avoids the high costs of placement breakdown, use of out-of-authority care and young people’s descent into the criminal justice system. We now make no out-of-county placements, which delivers substantial savings. NWD is central to reducing numbers of looked-after children for the right reasons. Associated savings to the county council were more than £2m a year in direct savings with a much larger cost avoidance with no young people in out-of-county residential or independent fostering agencies.

There are wider financial benefits to the local authority, police and NHS as evidenced through reduced numbers of young people:

  • l Remanded to custody;
  • Involved in criminal behaviour;
  • In out-of-authority placements;
  • Missing;
  • Experiencing placement breakdown; and
  • Involved in crisis presentations to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and A&E.

Working closely with the Department for Education (DfE) we have identified a range of total funding for local authorities to implement NWD. We will work with each council to identify their bespoke costing. Although we have funding committed by the DfE for the central delivery team to support each local authority across the five-year programme, the large majority of funding will go directly to each adopting council.

We are immensely proud to be doing this work and are already supporting Middlesbrough as a trailblazing council, and look forward to working with Rochdale, Redcar and Cleveland, Norfolk, Warrington and Leicester City.

We have recruited a central delivery team to provide specialist knowledge and skills to support each local authority, led by one of the teams that pioneered the NWD model. Adopting councils will also have access to the skills and expertise within our NWD hubs for evidence, support, peer challenge, learning and coaching opportunities.

Each adopter local authority will become a member of a NWD National Forum of Practice, which will connect them with each other and build ongoing relationships to help to sustain high-quality delivery of the NWD model. Delivery of NWD to other LAs will be evaluated to see whether the model can deliver similar outcomes in different geographical areas.

Developing NWD in a new place is not a simple process of ‘lift and shift’; what works well in one context will not necessarily work in another. Getting the right balance of fidelity and flex (keeping what distinguishes this model from others, while adapting to local need) can be one of the hardest parts of innovation.

Fidelity to the NWD model is built on faithfulness to the vision, values, culture and relationships, brought to life through consistent practice, service models and system changes.

NWD at its core is a systematic approach involving therapeutic care, a no-heads-on-beds policy and strengthening relationships and networks for young people. It’s about working with families and reconnecting young people to their families. By keeping them safe and close to their communities, No Wrong Door is able to take its young people forward positively into adult life.

Stuart Carlton is corporate director of children and young people’s service at North Yorkshire CC

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