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Social Impact Bonds: Supporting adolescents on the edge of care

Published: 
13 November 2014

The Essex Edge of Care Social Impact Bond (SIB) was contracted by Essex County Council (ECC) to provide therapeutic support and improve outcomes for adolescents at risk of going into care.

Eight investors provided a total commitment of £3.1m to fund for five and a half years an intervention which would support 11–17 year olds who are at risk of entering care or custody. The financial return for these investors is linked to the success of the programme in helping children remain out of care and safely at home with their families.

The national children’s charity Action for Children was selected to deliver the funded intervention, Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST), an intensive evidence-based family therapy. The service aims to work with 380 young people over five and a half years. We hope to divert approximately 100 young people from entering care, with investor returns determined by the reduction in days spent in care amongst the service users compared to a historical baseline. Essex County Council repays investors if these outcomes are achieved. Investor capital is entirely at risk.

As with other Social Impact Bonds, this service places emphasis on outcomes measurement and using performance management to drive continual improvement. Rather than taking a snapshot of the outcomes for the young person immediately after the conclusion of the intervention, progress of the child is tracked for a total of 30 months from the point of engagement with MST.

Focusing on the number of care days saved as opposed to a binary measure of whether a young person has gone into care or not means that the service is incentivised to work with even the most challenging of cases. Wider outcomes such as the rate of offending, educational outcomes and emotional wellbeing are also being monitored in order to understand the broader impact of the service.