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  • Writer's pictureRohney Saggar

Children are amazing and diverse. They have different needs, preferences and aspirations. They deserve to have access to great services that support their well-being, development and participation in society. But sadly, many children face barriers and challenges in accessing the services they need, such as health, education, social care, leisure and transport. These barriers can include long wait times, lack of accessible information, geographical distance, stigma, discrimination, cost and eligibility criteria.




 

Local councils play a vital role in making sure that children have access to the services they need, responsible for commissioning, delivering and co-ordinating a range of services for children and their families. Local councils also have a duty to promote the voice and influence of children in decision-making processes that affect them. But local councils face many pressures and constraints in providing effective and efficient CYPS, such as budget cuts, rising demand, complex needs, workforce shortages and changing legislation.

 

So how can local councils improve access to CYPS in these tough times?

 

I make no apologies for my passion to improving access and delivery of services to our CYPS. We can’t change everything TODAY, but here are some thoughts, useful I hope,  that local councils and service providers can take to make their services more accessible and better quality:


  • Involve children and their families in the design, delivery and evaluation of services. This can help to ensure that services are responsive, relevant and respectful of the diverse needs and preferences of children and their families. It can also help to build trust, engagement and satisfaction among service users and providers. You can do this by creating safe spaces for children to express themselves, allowing their voices to be heard and their lived experiences to be shared authentically. This can be done through peer-to-peer engagement events, digital storytelling, co-production and design projects and involving children and their families in governance and decision-making. Children and their families are the experts of their own lives, and they know best what works for them and how.

  • Collaborating with other service providers and stakeholders can help to create a holistic and seamless service offer for children and their families, avoiding duplication, fragmentation and gaps in provision. It encourages resources, expertise and good practice to be shared across sectors and agencies. You can do this by forming partnerships, networks and alliances, developing joint strategies and plans, sharing data and information, co-locating and co-delivering services. Working together is better than working alone, and it can lead to more innovation and impact.

  • Using digital and innovative solutions to enhance service delivery and communication where appropriate. This can help to overcome some of the physical, geographical and logistical barriers that children and their families face in accessing services. It can also help to provide more flexible, convenient and personalised options for some service users and providers. You can do this by using online platforms, apps and tools, offering virtual or remote services, developing digital skills and literacy, and exploring new ways of working and learning. Technology can be a powerful enabler and connector, and it can open new possibilities and opportunities.

  • Monitor and evaluate the impact and outcomes of services. This can help to make sure that services are effective, efficient and equitable, and that they deliver positive and sustainable changes for children and their families. It can also help to identify and address any issues, gaps or areas for improvement in service provision. You can do this by collecting and analysing data and evidence, setting and measuring indicators and targets, using feedback and complaints processes, and conducting audits and reviews. Evidence and learning can help you to improve your practice and demonstrate your value and impact.

  • Use single points of access to improve resource deployment. This can help to simplify and streamline the referral and assessment process for children and their families, and to match them with the most appropriate and available service. It can also help to reduce wait times, avoid unnecessary referrals, and make the best use of your resources and capacity. You can do this by setting up a centralised or co-ordinated system for receiving and processing referrals, using a common assessment framework, and having a clear and transparent criteria for service allocation. Single points of access can make your service more user-friendly and efficient, and they can ensure that children and their families get the right support at the right time.




 

Improving access to CYPS in local government is not an easy task, but a worthwhile and rewarding one. By considering these steps, local councils and service providers can make a difference in the lives of children and their families and contribute to the well-being and prosperity of their communities. And remember, you are not alone in this journey. There are many organisations and networks who can support you, such as the National Children's Bureau, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Children's Services, and the Children and Young People's Health Partnership. Together, we can make CYPS better for everyone.

 

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