Bradford - Looked After Children's Placements

Bradford - Looked After Children's Placements

The Situation

The Board at the new Bradford Children's Trust was concerned that the number of Looked After Children (LAC) and the average cost of placements for LAC were both rising unsustainably. They recognised that to manage demand effectively they needed to develop a deeper understanding of the factors that were driving demand, needs, and costs up.

Our Response

After being appointed in the summer of 2023 Alder Advice initiated two distinct co-productive pieces of research. Both aimed to help Bradford better understand what is driving demand for placements for LAC. The two pieces of research were:

1. A Market Analysis - This aimed to establish strengths in the current market, gaps in the market, the market structure, and market capacity. This helped Bradford to understand how well the local market met current and likely future demand for placements for LAC, and the value for money of those placements. It involved:

• Full engagement with stakeholders incl. social workers, commissioners, and providers.

• A review of commissioning/strategy papers and performance data to understand current demand forecasts and current demand management strategies.

• An analysis of a snapshot of placements to identify the types of placements used, their quality rating, and the prices paid. The analysis also looked at “In area” market sufficiency and assessed how concentrated the market for LAC placements is to assess risks related to over dependence on key providers.

2. A Case File Review -

This aimed to understand how professional social work practice including the approach to risk impacts placement numbers and costs. The case file review also sought to understand how:

• Local market factors affect the options available to social workers when they are planning how to best meet the needs of children and young people with complex support needs.

• Limited early intervention services affects demand for LAC placements and their costs.


The two research projects helped Bradford better understand the complex range of issues that drive demand for LAC placements up. This has helped it to develop a highly focused demand management plans based on a deep understanding of the factors driving demand and costs up.

Chris Dickinson, Head of Strategic Commissioning: Children’s Services and Public Health at Bradford said:

"Alder Advice has helped us to develop a more detailed under-standing of key issues impacting children’s placements. This will form a key part of the development of our sufficiency strategy and our improvement journey. Colleagues from Alder Advice had detailed and relevant knowledge of the issues impacting on children’s placements. Their objective and professional approach has helped us use their analysis to inform local decision making