The right door to choose for children and families?

Norfolk County Council is investing heavily in a new approach to supporting families where children are at risk of going into care. The council is adopting the ‘No Wrong Door’ model pioneered by North Yorkshire Council. The aim is to transform the way support services work with families and to dramatically reduce the number of children going into care. At County Hall I chair a group that aims to improve housing options for children who are looked after by the council. That means I am working closely with some of the people involved in the adoption of the scheme. If you want to know more about No Wrong Door you can read the official evaluation of the project here.

The following text is Norfolk County Council’s press release about the up-coming ‘cabinet’ decision on adopting the scheme for Norfolk. If you want to read the paper that will be discussed by cabinet members you can find it here: item 13 No wrong door Cabinet Paper.

NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL PRESS RELEASE: Plans move ahead for multi million pound scheme for young people

An innovative multi-million pound project which will improve support to vulnerable young people is due to be considered by Norfolk County Council’s cabinet in December.

Norfolk’s version of the ‘No Wrong Door’ scheme, which will see an investment of £5 million over three years by the Department for Education and additional council investment of £4 million, will help reduce the number of young people coming into care as well as reducing the number of arrests and hospital admissions.

Two children’s residential homes in Breckland and Norwich will be refurbished and improved to convert them into hubs which will sit at the heart of the new service providing wrap around residential and outreach support.

Due to be launched in June next year, the No Wrong Door model is a non-traditional approach to working with young people experiencing complex journeys. It combines short term residential care placements and edge of care support through a range of specialist and wrap-around services.

Cllr John Fisher, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “I am delighted to recommend the implementation plans to my colleagues. This project has a proven record elsewhere in the country of delivering significantly better outcomes for young people and their families as well as substantial cost reductions.

“It builds on the transformation programme we already have underway to strengthen our work with children, young people and their families, including our Inside Out programme, which offers coaching for young people in care and at the edge of care, and our supported accommodation for care leavers.

“This scheme will further help us improve the life journeys of our county’s most vulnerable children facing the most complex difficulties.”

Developed by North Yorkshire, No Wrong Door has helped reduce the cycle of young people moving between multiple foster placements, or into residential care, reduced the numbers in high cost independent placements and reduced missing episodes, arrests, and hospital admissions as well as reducing the numbers coming into care.

Norfolk County Council has been and will continue to work closely with North Yorkshire County Council to deliver its version of the scheme. There will be two specialist hubs at the heart of the service, which will be for young people aged between 12 and 25. Each young person will have a key worker who sticks with them through their journey and then draws in support from mental health workers, speech and language therapists, substance misuse specialists, clinical psychologists and police safeguarding officers. In this way, the model will bring partners from different agencies more closely together with a shared practice culture and a commitment to never give up on young people and wherever possible support them to remain safely at home with their families.

The project aligns with the county council’s Vital Signs for Children’ vision which is being delivered by taking a whole system and whole family approach focused on increasing direct relationship-based work with families, recognising the strengths and resilience in wider family and community networks, and reducing the number of handoffs within the system.

The primary driver for the scheme is the positive outcomes for young people and families, however, it is forecast that the outcomes achieved will deliver an estimated £12.8 million in savings by the fourth year, having taken into account additional investment of £4 million. The initial costs will be outstripped by the forecasted savings. The DfE investment of £5 million comes after the council was one of 18 local authorities which successfully bid to be included in the £84 million national Strengthening Families and Protecting Children programme.

Work is also underway with young people to decide what the Norfolk version of the No Wrong Door service will be called.

Cabinet will discuss the report at its online meeting at 10am on Monday, 7 December. You can read the reports and view the meeting live – or a recording afterwards – at