Consultation Practices Used in Planning Children's Services

Kerry Martin, Karen Halsey, Jenny Murfield

01 January 2009

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The Local Government Association (LGA) commissioned NFER to conduct a study examining the consultation practices used in developing Children and Young People’s plans (CYPP). The plans are strategic documents, outlining the coordination and development of services to deliver and improve outcomes for children. Data was collected through a survey to LAs (with a response rate of 50 percent), 30 telephone interviews and 7 case study visits.

Key Findings

  • Half of the authorities who responded to our survey considered that consultation had undergone some major developments since the plans were first written. Many of these changes signalled a more strategic approach, e.g. the development of consultations strategies, the appointment of staff or creation of departments with a dedicated consultation remit, and the use of audits to obtain a picture of consultation activities across an authority (thereby reducing duplication and making consultation data available to a wider audience).
  • Ensuring adequate and targeted feedback after consultation activity was identified as an area for improvement by some interviewees. This is an important stage of the process as it completes the circle of consultation, informing the community of what has happened as a result of their input.
  • Generally, communicating the impact of consultation activity is paramount if it is to become embedded into the working practices of local authorities. Case studies revealed that consultation with children and young people can produce surprising and powerful information which can really help inform the direction of services. Only by publicising the value of this work will consultation become an accepted, widespread practice throughout local authorities.
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