Building My Future (BMF) was developed by Ealing Council and its partners in recognition of the need to provide support to young people with additional needs (i.e. learning difficulties, autism, and/or Asperger syndrome) at an earlier stage. The aim was to improve outcomes in relation to wellbeing, education and participation, and to prevent the use of expensive, and potentially unsuitable, special school provision.
The highly-skilled, multidisciplinary, multi-agency BMF team was greater than the sum of its parts. By removing the need to refer young people to different services, the BMF team was able to provide more tailored, holistic and responsive support than would have been the case if services were only working in partnership.
Qualitative evidence shows that BMF brought about improvements in:
- Young people’s personal wellbeing, participation in mainstream education, and preparedness for adult life.
- Parents’ and carers’ relationships with their child and with their child’s school/college. They also developed new skills/approaches to support their child.
- The capacity of schools/colleges to provide support to young people with additional needs. Some school/college staff also developed new skills/approaches.
These improvements are not materialising immediately in quantitative data, especially in relation to a comparison group of young people with similar needs. This picture may change if evaluation is conducted over a longer period with a larger cohort.
Quantitative data presented a mixed picture about whether BMF achieved a positive fiscal impact. The majority of stakeholders were confident that cost avoidance could be achieved over a longer time period.
BMF trialled working with some young people with more complex needs who were already in contact with services (e.g. Looked After Children). There is emerging evidence that this cohort also benefitted from BMF and presented a greater potential for cost savings. The blend of skills within the team may need to be adjusted to respond to the higher level needs of this cohort (e.g. more clinical or educational psychologists).
Sustaining BMF was challenging because: (a) timescales for local authority decision making, the evaluation, and funding were not aligned; and (b) the local authority was juggling reduced funding, plus increased demand for services and complexity of need. Maintaining the team with fidelity to the model was a challenge since Ealing Council was not able to offer job certainty to in-demand professionals, resulting in early departures of key team members that could not be back-filled.
Download our full report below. Ealing BMF was part of the Department for Education's Children's Social Care Innovation Programme.