Early years: Best commissioning practice and tools

Updated guidance to support local authority childcare sufficiency assessments and action planning Zip (278 KB)

On 22 October 2009, the Department for Children Schools and Families noted in the LA email that it would be launching a consultation on the revised statutory Childcare Sufficiency and Assessment Guidance to inform the 2010-11 assessment and action planning process. The guidance builds on the existing guidance included in Securing Sufficient Childcare and the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment Guidance (both published in 2007) and is intended to assist LAs in their assessment of sufficiency and action planning. The primary purpose of this consultation is to seek LAs' views on the structure and content of the draft guidance.


A guide to commissioning children’s services for better outcomes (2009) PDF (322 KB)

This guide is written for Children’s Services Directors and Children’s Trusts who are looking for practical tips and tools for commissioning. It aims to bring together innovative methods and approaches including consideration of the social rate of return on investment (SROI).


Companion guide to the quality improvement principles (2008) PDF (1.02 MB)

This document builds on the National Quality Improvement Principles which provide a strong base on which to review and build a quality improvement framework which will deliver high quality services. The principles have been developed by practitioners across local authorities. The National Quality Improvement Network has shown that local authorities can develop effective tools for reflecting on, and continuously improving, the quality of the services they commission.


Family support in children’s centres: planning, commissioning and delivery (2007) Apps et al (2007) Family and Parenting Institute website

This study explored the planning and commissioning and delivery of family support services in Sure Start children’s centres developed from the 4th and 5th wave Sure Start local programmes.  It provides insights and best practice in the operational aspects of service delivery for new and emergent centres.


Family support in extended schools: planning, commissioning and delivery  Apps et al (2008) Family and Parenting Institute website

This research investigated the delivery of family support in extended schools which were considered examples of promising practice. Some had difficulty engaging parents; particularly those who had had bad experiences of school themselves. Informal contact with parents plus systematic outreach services in non-school settings appeared to be the key to drawing parents into family support services. Schools worked with a range of other agencies and emphasised the importance of having specialist staff and consulting with parents.


How to commission high quality sure start children’s centre services (2009) PDF (1.97 MB)

This guide produced by Together for Children is set to support local authorities develop an outcomes-based approach to commissioning high quality Sure Start Children’s Centre services. The product is intended to provide practical tools, case examples and documents contained for use by local authorities to support the commissioning of high quality children’s centre services.  It is aimed at commissioners of children’s centre services including early years lead, officers and those in local authorities, and their partners, tasked with developing high quality children’s centre services. Download the PDF here


Social Return on Investment – and commissioning (2009) website

The social return on investment (SROI) is a practical tool that helps commissioners focus on the impact of their decision and can help demonstrate and ensure that wider costs and benefits can be taken into consideration at each stage of the commissioning process.


Think research: using research evidence to inform service development of vulnerable groups (2008) Social Exclusion Task Force PDF (1.95 MB)

This guidance is for professionals who have direct responsibility for designing, commissioning or managing services for vulnerable groups.  It sets out principles for using research evidence to select and monitor services.



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