Let’s start with the context, every day across Liverpool City Region, a child is placed in residential care. Like any child, they need a safe and happy place to call home where they can enjoy their childhood. At the moment, there aren’t enough suitable placements locally, so more than half of children are placed outside of the City Region, away from their families, friends and schools, and the communities that are so important to them.
The National Story
It's often hard to paint a positive picture about residential children's care in the UK. The outcomes for care-experienced young people speak for themselves. The model is often seen as a last resort where there isn't a suitable foster placement, and often there's a real stigma attached to living in residential care for children and young people.
For the people who work in the sector, children's residential is rarely seen as a 'career of choice', there is little investment in staff, the pay is relatively low, and as a result, staff turnover is high.
In addition, the market is dominated by organisations driven by profit, creating monopolies and a shortage of adequate supply to meet local needs. There are not enough appropriate places available and local authorities are left ringing round for last-minute, over-priced, and sometimes inadequate placements - 1 in 8 children in care have spent time in unregulated accommodation.
of children's homes are run by the voluntary sector.
of children's homes are run by Local Authorities
of children's homes are owned by 21 private companies (many of them Private Equity backed)
OFSTED. Largest national providers of private and voluntary social care, 2021.
The Local Story
Locally, things don't get much better, within the first 6 months of the 21/22 calendar year Liverpool City Region was on track to have spent £35m more than budgeted on children’s social care placements. In addition to this, the area's shortage of foster carers and suitable residential placements means over half of children and young people are placed outside of the region, away from their communities and families.
Comparing previous procurement framework (5 years) with current framework prices, residential prices have increased by 33%
Private Residential Care Providers (supported through private equity), have a greater percentage of ‘inadequate’ and ‘requires improvement’ children's residential homes.
The number of Children Looked After in Liverpool City Region has increased by 18% since April 2018, and more are having to be placed ‘at distance’. Nationally there are 2000 children living more than 100 miles away from home.
There were over 11,000 more children in care in 2019 than there were in 2011 – 73% of those additional children were cared for by private organisations
Through Juno, we want to both increase the number of available high-quality homes across the city region whilst redefining how children’s residential care is delivered, both for children in care and the staff who support them.
Our Vision & Aims
Our vision is to make sure that children needing residential care across Liverpool City Region find a home where they can thrive. To do this, we are creating a network of social enterprise homes for children across the region with innovative approaches to care and profit that will significantly improve the life chances of children.
A truly caring ethos: We want children in Juno homes to feel safe and loved. We will support all aspects of their emotional, physical, and educational development, using a model of care rooted in social pedagogy.
A local approach: We will help more children stay local to their schools, families and communities.
A home by choice: By modelling new ways of working, repositioning children’s homes as effective longer-term care rather than a ‘last resort’, and creating opportunities to share learning, we want to drive up care standards across the sector.
A focus away from profit: We want to offer alternatives in the residential market so that it’s no longer dominated by ‘for profit’. As a social enterprise, we’ll use our profits for good, reinvesting them into projects further upstream that prevent local children needing residential care.
To put outcomes of children and young people at the front of all delivery.
To achieve strategic level transformation of children's residential services and promote better expectations of providers.
To encourage a diverse range of organisations to develop close working relationships with the LCR Local Authorities, increasing placement availability within the region.
To drive up the service quality across all children's residential provision.
To create a sustainable financial model with long-term contracts and pricing commitments.
Ensure a greater social value contribution to our local communities.
From the outset this project has listened to the voices of care-experienced children, putting them forward to take the lead in designing Juno’s homes and bringing them to life. As we were still testing and understanding the feasibility of the project, care leavers from across the city region shared their views about what needs to fundamentally change in residential care. They told us about the style of the buildings, the teams who worked with them, the openness to the local community and most importantly their own personal needs and dreams.
How the homes should feel:
"Most homes are like institutions, with locked doors, cheap furniture and no privacy."
"We want cosy, homely environments that look and feel like a family home."
"I want space to be really mine - safe and personal."
"Let me live in safe neighbourhoods in a home that blends in with the local community."
"I’d like a garden and areas to play and relax."
"I’d like my biological family to come and spend time there too."
How the team should feel:
"Emotionally intelligent and not afraid to love children."
"Able to do what’s right for us, not just what’s easy or less scary."
"Consistently there, for the long haul."
"Connecting me to other people and places."
"Willing to go above and beyond, encouraging me and catching me if I fall."
"Not distracted by paperwork."
"Part of diverse, committed teams."
Key elements of the model
We took this feedback on board and looked at what was working in other parts of the world, researching further into models in Holland and Scandinavia, trying to understand what made those models successful. We pinched the good bits, left out the ones that weren't for us and took this back to the young people. This helped us form a truly co-produced model for children's residential that has 10 features which together make it truly stand out.
Our staff will receive world-class training in social pedagogy and evidence-based practice that focuses on creating the conditions in which children can flourish. We've worked with the University of Central Lancashire to develop our own bespoke programme.
We're working with Registered Social Landlords and social investors and plan to buy and build up to £10million worth of high-quality properties that look and feel like spacious family homes. These will all be located in safe communities with great schools, green spaces and supportive neighbours.
STAFF AND SUPPORT
Our team will have sector-leading pay and benefits, equivalent to teaching. There will be benefits to the team through the staff-ownership model, and they'll be supported by great leadership. This will ensure we can recruit and retain a diverse team of brilliant adult care-givers.
We will deliver this project in collaboration with LCR Local Authorities, Social Investors and Grant Funders including The National Lottery Community Fund and Segelman Trust, ThemPra, KPMG Foundation, Registered Social Landlords, UCLAN and a network of local community organisations committed to delivering the very best quality care for Children Looked After.
The project will use a social enterprise model to reduce profit distribution to private equity shareholders and to push money back into improving the service and into the wider sector, helping families to stay together.
The organisation will deliver a staff-ownership model. These models are shown to improve quality recruitment, increase staff retention and drive up quality and success.
IN THE LEAD
A full youth engagement and participation plan will ensure that care-experienced young people continue to shape Juno. They interview potential staff, measure and monitor impact through a formal group of 'Young Inspectors', get involved in business planning and strategy, meet bi-annually with the Board, and reverse-mentor key team members.
Driving the project forward is a high quality centralised team whose skillset will complement and support local residential leadership teams.
PROJECT STEERING GROUP
A multi-disciplinary group of key stakeholders (young people, commissioners, local organisations etc) provides operational advice & support to the Juno Leadership Team giving a range of perspectives and guidance.
Capacity is the North West’s leading public service redesign agency. The organisation prides itself on really moving forward on the projects that matter: the ones that make the biggest impact on the lives of everyday people. Setup in Liverpool in 2015 the organisation is fiercely proud of its ability to understand local people and places, keeping them involved in projects along the way.
As such, in 2019 Capacity was approached by the LCR Children’s Commissioners group – with a mandate for wider market reform from the Directors of Children’s Services across the City Region - to help design a new approach that could meet significant local challenges in the residential market based on our track record in service design. Backed by this mandate, Capacity secured a development grant from The National Lottery Communities Fund (TNLCF), which covered elements of the Feasibility Planning (including external legal advice costs), and took forward all other aspects (stakeholder engagement, data analysis, programme management, service planning and design) as a pro bono piece of work - because solving this issue sits at the heart of why we exist.
In 2019, Northwest public service redesign agency, Capacity, started this project, working with care-experienced young people locally, and the commissioners who are responsible for their care. What did they find? That they all agree on one thing: we need to stop expecting change if we keep doing things the same way.
Young people want us as providers to put the focus of residential children’s homes in the ‘right’ places – on giving stability, hope and opportunity to every young person they engage with. We believe this can and will happen, and this is what Juno is here to do: introduce a model that measures success not on risks managed, audits completed, or beds filled but on heads stimulated, hearts warmed, and hands held.
Capacity went on to set up ‘We Are Juno CIC’, an organisation that is owned by the team who work there, meaning everyone has an interest in it being the best it can be. Over the following year, the funding model was developed and the team at Capacity worked to access over £2m of funding to develop the model and bring it to life across the Liverpool City Region, starting in Wirral.
Our Development Partners
Alongside local young people, commissioners and potential funders, Capacity have been kindly supported on the project by two leading organisations in this field:
Catch 22: a not-for-profit business with a social mission. For over 200 years they have designed and delivered services that build resilience and aspiration in people and communities. A founding member of Capacity, Chief Exec Chris Wright and other senior leaders within the organisation have been involved in the development of this programme from its outset. Chris Wright will sit on Juno’s Board of Directors.
ThemPra: These leaders in social pedagogy are playing a key role in developing our learning programmes and professional development pathways for leaders and frontline staff in Juno. They’ve helped to ensure that this ethos is a constant in how we deliver our support.