There have been many significant pieces of legislation and policy that have stated the importance of service users having a greater influence over the services they receive (Beresford and Campbell, 1994). The organisation responds to these pieces of legislation by requesting that service users complete the given evaluation forms at the end of interventions as well having a complaints procedure in place. The project also held a development day where the service users were invited along to express their feelings about the services they received and were given a change to offer any ideas they had about the future of the project. Hafford-Letchfield (2006) heralds that,
‘management processes which maximise opportunities for collaboration with service users and service providers are vital’ (p53)
In 1997 the New Labour government introduced many legislative changes that impacted upon all agencies delivering social care, and sought to
‘expand the role of the independent sector through pluralism, competition, variety, innovation and flexibility’ (Hafford-Letchfield, 2006, p83).
The National Service Framework for Children, the Children’s Act 1989, the Children’s Act 2004 and Every Child Matters are amongst the many pieces of legislation that have impacted upon this organisation in particular. These pieces of legislation have provided guidance for the way in which the agency works; Lymberry (2004) advises that the modernisation agenda
‘effected significant change on the social care landscape with particular emphasis on the benefits of inter-professional arrangements’ (p44).
This is particularly apparent of the role I undertook within the organisation working in collaboration with the local Youth Offending Team. Hafford-Letchfield (2006) informs us The Labour Government from 2005 onwards has introduced a 10-15 year implementation programme with the aim of connecting people to services in a more direct manner, and Every Child Matters, The Children Act 2004 and Youth Matters all detail these changes . The Government has also made it clear that the voluntary sector has a significant role to play in the deliverance of Every Child Matters (Every Child Matters, 2005). Blair (2000) stated that the welfare state should become more active in supporting people to achieve independence, and it is organisations such as the one under discussion that contribute to his vision.
The piece of legislation that has had the biggest impact upon the project, and indeed the whole organisation, is Every Child Matters which was published as a green paper in 2004 and then made a legal reform by the Children’s Act 2004 (Every Child Matters, 2005). The organisation has changed significantly in order to meet the criteria of Every Child Matters, whereby every referral form reflects the 5 outcomes to show how the service user is currently meeting the 5 outcomes. The referral form also allows the assessor to identify the area’s that need to be addressed and find the best way to support the service users. The organisation underwent a transformational change where the core values and Mission Statement were transformed; change was accomplished at many levels within the organisation (Mabey, 2001). The Mission Statement was changed to reflect Every Child Matters and now reads,
‘To promote the health and well being of children and young people by providing accessible services that encourage children, young people and their families or carers to make a positive contribution that enables them to stay safe, enjoy and achieve and shape their own futures to reach their full potential’
(Agency Mission Statement, 2006).
The project within which I was based consisted of 6 team members and a managerial position that was vacant at the time, due to a voluntary redundancy. The whole project is then overseen by the Operations Manager, who is also responsible for 5 other projects within the organisation. Hafford Letchfield (2006) considers that
'in complex organisations there will be a number of open systems operation simultaneously, each performing its own specialised function’ (p9),
which bears great resemblance to the organisation being deliberated. The Operations Manager ultimately looks to the Chief Executive Officer for guidance. A copy of the management structure has been included for you to peruse. Any major decisions made by the organisation must be approved by the Board of Trustees before they are implemented. When discussing management structures within organisations Watson and West (2006) herald that,
‘the growth of managerialism has meant they are increasingly organised on bureaucratic principles, based on top-down lines of communication and decision making with hierarchical control structures’ (p116)
The structure of the organisation under discussion reflects the idea of managerialism as directed by Watson and West (2006). Clegg et al (2005) believe that in order to manage change and ensure future growth and success an organisation must have a strategy in place, which was the reasoning behind the Development Day.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Business Family Well Being Care Services Finance & Administration
Manager Operations Manager Operations Manager Manager
- Project Contracts
- Quality Assurance Family Well Being Youth/Community Foster Care Foster Care Office Manager
- Learning Centre Manager & Youth Justice Manager Manager
Manager Gtr Manchester Lancashire
The managerial style displayed within the organisation is typical of the nature of New Public Management; there is a strategic policy from the operational manager, the focus is on results and the needs of the service user are of paramount importance to the organisation (Hallsworth, 2004). Hebson et al (2002) note that
‘under traditional models of public administration, it is assumed that the factors that motivate workers in the public sector are radically different to those found in the private sector’ (p2).
Although the organisation under discussion is in the private sector it is apparent that the managerial style displays features of New Public Management, as the staff now have permanent contracts rather than temporary, and have detailed criteria within their job descriptions.
The operations manager for the project has gradually been introducing transitional change within the project whereby she has been implementing new strategies (Mabey, 2001). Hafford-Letchfield informs us that
‘the ability to adapt and redesign structures in response to the government’s change agenda is critical to the success of social care organisations’ (p30).
By holding a development day the operations manager was able to critically examine the methods of intervention being used at that time, but was also able to gain constructive feedback and suggestions from other agencies and organisations who ‘purchase’ (p9) the service or would possibly do so in the future (Mabey, 2001). The results of the development day were used to produce a new strategy to ensure security for the project. The strategy involved continuing with the methods of intervention already in place, in addition to complementing the work with a variety of other services as suggested at the Development Day. The result of this is that the service offered by the organisation now appeals to a wider target group. Hafford-Letchfield (2006) advise that,
‘in having more expert knowledge and greater proximity to users, the voluntary and community sector are more able to innovate and provide services flexibly’ (p83)
The relations between staff in the organisation are strained due to the current lack of a manger for the team. Although the operations manager is highly efficient it is essential to have a team manager in place to oversee the day-to-day running of the project and to ensure that concerns are answered immediately. Hafford-Letchfield (2006) advises that
‘collaboration between staff, management and service users at all levels in organisations is crucial to successful delivery of services’
Due to lack of guidance there is a touch of unease as there was conflict between the team members as to who was the ‘leader’ of the team. As the staff now have permanent contracts there is a much higher level of staff morale as they have job security which previously they haven’t had. There is extra pressure due to the lack of a manager although the operations manager makes herself present in the office for one full day per week to answer any queries and also makes regular contact with the office in her absence. All of the team feel that they have a fulfilling and rewarding relationship with her. According to Stratham (2004),
‘managers are the mediators of standards and quality of social work practice’ (p203)
Due to the organisation being in the voluntary sector the project under discussion is funded by the Children’s Fund, with contributions from local schools, the Youth Offending Team and a Parenting Fund Grant. As part of a long term strategic plan the project is also funded by The Children, Young People and Families Grant Programme which is a new grant programme from the DfES which is offered to supports organisations who contribute to the delivery of Every Child Matters, and has been funding the project since April 2006 (Every Child Matters, 2005). Hafford-Letchfield advises that around 40% of the income in the voluntary sector comes from the government and the
‘remainder funded by grants from charitable trusts and voluntary gifts’ (p77).
The organisation also has several legacies left from the deceased who were formally children who lived in the orphanage. The project in question is mainly funded by doing contracted work for other agencies, local schools in particular, as well as offering a family group meetings service (Hafford-Letchfield, 2006).
In any voluntary organisation the source of funding is uncertain as grants that have been awarded are only in place for a small number of years, when the organisation then has to reapply (Hafford-Letchfield, 2006). Within the project in question their funding is in place until June 2008. this can create a lot of job insecurity amongst team members as this usually means that they are only offered temporary contracts, but due to the strategy implemented by the operations management the team members have been awarded permanent contracts. The local schools purchase block contracts from the project which gives them more security for the future (Hafford-Letchfield, 2006), and the family support worker provided for the local Youth Offending Team is financed by the Youth Offending Team therefore does not have any impact upon the finances allocated for the project. Due to the partnership between the agency, the project under discussion in particular, and the local Youth Offending Team they now work together to make joint applications for funding from the Local Authority vial the Local Strategic Partnership, which provides
‘an overarching framework in the public, private, voluntary and community sectors to meet community development needs’
(Hafford-Letchfield, 2006, p83).
Watson and West (2006) herald that,
‘joint working between agencies and sectors has led to new opportunities and challenges for practice’ (p116).
The organisation is in permanent competition with other similar agencies within the local area as they are all battling for the same funding and are offering the same criteria as the organisation under discussion (Taylor, 1996).
Although there are no contracted conditions attached to the funding received by the organisation, their interventions are closely monitored and data has to be produced quarterly to relevant Government departments in order for them to ensure that the funding is being used appropriately. If anticipated targets for interventions are not met it can make future funding applications volatile. The funding received from the Children’s Fund and the Parenting Grant are not dependent upon the project reaching specified targets of intervention levels, although failure to do so would not result in funding being withdrawn but the agency would be unlikely to be able to secure funding from those sources in the future.
There are many reasons why there is a greater demand for accountability in social care, and national standards have been introduced to ensure that all agencies are accomplishing an acceptable standard of service (Munroe, 2004). Within the project the funding is sufficient to deliver an efficient and effective service that reaches the criteria set out by governing bodies due to the large amount of contracted work and spot purchases by local schools and agencies.
I believe that the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn is that the organisation under discussion is thriving in the voluntary sector and with the strategies that have been put in place it would be reasonable to assume that the organisation will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Agency Mission Statement (Cannot give name for confidentiality reasons)
Agency Website (Cannot give name for confidentiality reasons)
Banks, S. (2001) Values and ethics in Social Work. Basingstoke; Palgrave
Beresford, P. and Campbell, J. (1994) Disabled People, Service Users, User Involvement and Representation. In: Disability and Society. 9 (3). 315-25.
Blair, T. (2000) Transforming the Welfare State, Speech to the Institute for Public Policy Research. London, 7th June
Every Child Matters (2005) Background to Every Child Matters
Every Child Matters (2005) Voluntary and Community Sector
Accessed on 22/4/2007)
Hafford-Letchfield, T. (2006) Management and Organisations in Social Work. Exeter; Learning Matters
Hallsworth, G. (2003) Law and Governance.
Accessed on 23/4/2007)
Hebson, G. et al. (2002) PPP’s and Changing Public Sector Ethos: Case Study Evidence from the Health and Local Authority Sectors.
Accessed on 23/4/2007)
Lymberry, M. (2004) Responding to Crisis: The Changing Nature of Welfare Organisations. Basingstoke; Palgrave
Mabey, C. (2001) Preparing for Change: Context and Choice. Block 3, Managing Change. Buckingham; Open University Press
Mullender, A. and Perrott, S. in Adams et al (1998) Social Work Themes, Issues and Critical Debates 2nd Edition. Basingstoke; Palgrave
Munroe, E. (2004) The impact of audit on Social Work Practice. In: British Journal of Social Work. 34. 1075-95
Stratham, D. (2004) Managing Front Line Practice in Social Care. London; Jessica Kingsley
Taylor, M. in Billis, D. and Harris, M. (1996) Voluntary Agencies: Challenges of Organisation and Management. Basingstoke; MacMillan
Candidate Number 20160036