The 'No Wrong Door' model

North Yorkshire Council's No Wrong Door is a new way of providing support to young people who are within or on the edge of the care system. We asked Janice Nicholson MBE, who has played a key role in the success of the No Wrong Door model, to tell us more about the work they do.

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Being part of North Yorkshire County Council's residential service meant I had seen a real change in the way we design, implement and deliver services for adolescents who are on a difficult journey in life.

The reality was our residential services were already excellent so we were not building from a deficit base, yet we knew we could do even better.

In 2014, as part of the first wave of the DfE's Innovation Programme, we were successful in gaining some pump-prime funding for 'rethinking care for adolescents'.

We designed the No Wrong Door (NWD) model with this in mind, building from what we knew and what we knew we needed more of. All with the intention of making a step-change to further improve the lives of those young people who needed our support.

NWD can look like a simple model but behind it lies a ground-breaking design, with multiple layers of thought and connectivity. In essence, we focused on the outcomes we wanted to achieve first - then everything else was built from there. This all resulted in our two NWD Hubs going 'live' in 2015.

NWD has an integrated team of specialist roles, alongside resilient, flexible and persistent residential and edge of care workers. The team includes a clinical psychologist, a speech and language therapist and a police liaison role, all part of the team around the child. The embedded nature of these roles enables young people to naturally develop trust and build healthy relationships with those who can support them, when they need it. The team work together in a shared practice framework that is relational, strengths based, restorative and systemic. Our culture and practice is based around some key 'provocations' that underpin and guide everyday decision making, for example, 'are we managing the risk for the child or for the organisation'?

The approach was evaluated and we also captured both the numbers and the stories of impact. In fact, this was crucial in evidencing what was working and helped us build the case for sustainability both in NYCC and in the LAs who have taken on the model.

Interestingly, when NWD is fully taken on, with 'faithfulness' to the original model (and the core principles) there are consistent positive themes of impact. This means the data evidences things like, more young people can safely remain in their family or community, there is a significant reduction in 'external 'placements', a reduction in demand and costs to the LA i.e.  police, health and CAMHS. All of which contributes to significant savings, costs avoided but more importantly, it improves lives.

A key premise of NWD is that we are always looking for permanence in a family or community and that residential is a short-term intervention, not a long-term solution. In fact, this has  been underpinned by current research that evidences the negative long-term health impact for those children who have been in care and particularly those in residential care.

We believe that culture and practice doesn't happen in a silo. Transformation needs to happen across a system, be owned by everyone, all supported by a strong clear vision and 'leadership spine'. Therefore, the key distinguishing features of NWD have now become part of NYCC's  wider children and families practice model .

I think it fair to say that NWD is needed now more than ever. If we consider the reducing budgets of LAs, the increasing costs and demand within a 'market' that means young people are moved far from their home and community - then a different approach is needed.

Author: Commission on Young Lives - Oasis UK
Date: 15/12/2021
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