Issue details

23/00065 - Regional Care Co-operatives - Pathfinder

Proposed decision


The Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services is asked (subject to selection by the DfE as an appropriate Pathfinder region) to:


A)   Agree to become a Regional Care Co-operatives Pathfinder authority (if selected)

B)   Enter into relevant agreements with the DfE to join/lead a Pathfinder Region for the delivery of a Regional Care Co-operative (Agreement to include the acceptances of relevant Memorandums of Understandings and associated funding and partnership agreements)

C)   Delegate authority to the Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services, to take other relevant actions, including but not limited to, finalising the terms and entering into required contracts or other legal agreements, as necessary to implement the decision.


Reason for the decision


The Department for Education (DfE) is seeking Local Authorities (LAs) to engage in designing and piloting the Regional Care Co-operatives (RCCs), as set out in their strategy Stable Homes, Built on Love.


There is funding for successful Local Authorities that wish to be Pathfinders; no LA’s have been identified yet so no potential financial amounts have been allocated. However, we are seeking approval to engage in progressing these projects, identifying the funding that would be allocated and implementing the requirements, including spending the money in line with the conditions.




The Stable Homes, Built on Love strategy sets out a vision to re-balance children’s social care away from costly crisis intervention to more meaningful and effective early support.


The DfE states it will reform in phases, investing £200m over the next two years. After two years they will refresh this strategy, scaling up new approaches that have been tested and bring forward legislation (subject to parliamentary time).


DfE are looking to run two regional pathfinders to test Regional Care Cooperatives. The regions taking part will play a key role in shaping future delivery. DfE want the region to be big enough to start seeing savings through economies of scale and anticipate an appropriate size would be eight to 12 LAs, although LAs with large Children in Care populations, the number of LAs might be smaller.



Pathfinders are voluntary and confirmation of interest is required. Financial support will be provided to support Pathfinder regions to get started.


Options (other options considered but discarded)


To not put KCC forward to contribute as a Pathfinder for RCC – this was decided against because of the significant pressures and challenges finding affordable placements for Children in Care.


How the proposed decision supports the Strategic Statement:


The proposed decision supports Framing Kent’s Future Our Council Strategy 2022-2026, Specifically Priority 4 New Models of Care and Support

1.Explore all opportunities to integrate our commissioning of services to improve health and care outcomes.


It also supports delivery of the Kent Sufficiency Strategy 2022-2027


Decision type: Key

Reason Key: Affects more than two Electoral Divisions;

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Division affected: (All Division);

Notice of proposed decision first published: 01/08/2023

Decision due: Not before 30th Aug 2023 by Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services
Reason: To allow the required 28 day notice period under Executive Decision arrangements

Lead member: Cabinet Member for Integrated Children's Services

Lead director: Christy Holden

Department: Education & Young People's Services

Contact: Carolann James, Interim Director of Children's Operational Services Tel: 03000423308 Email:

Consultation process

The Children’s and Young People Cabinet Committee consider the decision on 12 September 2023

Financial implications: DfE will support Pathfinder regions to get started as follows: Up to £5m per RCC to set up the new arrangements • Funding is to cover legal due diligence, HR, finance and project management costs plus evaluation of the pathfinders. • Funding will depend on the size of the RCC (number of LAs / size of staff teams involved); DfE will discuss this with selected regions accordingly. • DfE will procure a delivery partner to work with RCC regions (similar to children’s services trusts and Regional Adoption Agencies) and procure evaluation. Up to £5m capital funding per RCC to develop new provision • Will be for the region to decide what their priorities are, DfE want to discuss with the region what they intend / how they plan to deliver. • Tight deadline to spend the money: funding only available until March 2025 (SR period). • DfE are not asking regions to match-fund the money although if any region is able to, the money will be able to go further.

Legal implications: Partnership Agreements will be required in establishing an RCC. It is assumed a lead Local Authority will be required to manage the funding and employ staff to deliver the programme. Legal advice will be sought if selected and the MOU shared.

Equalities implications: An initial Equality Impact Assessment is underway