Law firm Bevan Brittan LLP has supported the development and launch of a new children’s services company, Worcestershire Children First (‘WCF’).
In September 2017, following a report from the Worcestershire Children's Commissioner, the Department for Education directed that Worcestershire County Council should move the operational delivery of Social Care Services for Children to an Alternative Delivery Model.
Worcestershire Children First is the new company responsible for delivering children’s services on behalf of Worcestershire County Council. The company, launched on 1 October 2019, is wholly owned by Worcestershire County Council and is responsible for the delivery of services such as children’s social care, education, early help and foster care.
The Bevan Brittan team, led by partner Judith Barnes and senior associate Kirtpal Kaur Aujla advised the Council on the business case, setting up the company structure and putting in place commissioning and delivery arrangements between the authority and WCF over the course of a five-year contract. The team also provided advice on issues including powers, commissioning, performance and governance arrangements.
Judith Barnes and Kirtpal Kaur Aujla said: “We are very pleased to have supported Worcestershire County Council in the challenging task of establishing a new company to deliver children’s services. There is now a clear framework and leadership structure in place to deliver the requirements of the Secretary of State's latest direction and to focus on the important role of providing first rate children’s services - including helping children most in need of protection and care”.
Around 800 staff and a portfolio of 20 properties have been transferred from Worcestershire County Council to Worcestershire Children First. Councillor Andy Roberts, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Children and Families at Worcestershire County Council said: “The new company will help us to continue to improve the way children’s services are delivered, and build on the substantial improvement to services that was recognised by OFSTED in their latest inspection.
“Children and young people are at the heart of the company and we’re looking forward to helping children in Worcestershire to lead happy and healthy lives and go on to reach their full potential”.
Alternative delivery models for the provision of children’s services have been set up in 10 local authority areas. In this regard, Bevan Brittan has advised authorities in Birmingham, Doncaster, Sandwell, as well as Achieving for Children.