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Hertfordshire County Council

Children's Cross Regional Arrangements Group (CCRAG)

The Children's Cross Regional Arrangements Group (CCRAG) is a partnership of local authorities working together to support the sourcing, contracting, monitoring and annual fee negotiations for children's placements and to improve the outcomes for all children and young people.

We are the host local authority for CCRAG. We work closely with local authority partners and service providers.

Key priorities

  • To improve overall quality standards and outcomes for young people.
  • To enable local authorities to work in partnership to reduce duplication of tasks and share information securely in one place.
  • Sharing of quality assurance monitoring and fee negotiations.
  • Providing quality up to date information on service providers.
  • Effective communication across the partnership.

The group does this by coordinating procedures that monitor the quality and cost of placements. Information is shared via the CCRAG database.

Local authority partners 2017/18

  • Bath and North East Somerset Council
  • Bedford Borough Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Buckinghamshire County Council
  • Cambridgeshire County Council
  • Essex County Council
  • Gloucestershire County Council
  • Hertfordshire County Council
  • Luton Borough Council
  • Milton Keynes Council
  • Norfolk County Council
  • Oxfordshire County Council
  • Peterborough City Council
  • Slough Children's Service Trust
  • South Gloucestershire Council
  • Southend-on-Sea Borough Council
  • Thurrock Council
  • West Sussex County Council

 

We welcome enquiries from potential local authority partners.

Contact CCRAG to find out more about the benefits of joining the partnership

 

Talking about CCRAG

Steering group

CCRAG is governed by a steering group of representatives from the participating regions. The steering group provides strategic direction for the whole partnership.

Each region is represented by an elected representative. Elections take place annually.

CCRAG's procedures

Read the CCRAG information sharing protocol for CCRAG's consistent, fair and transparent method of sharing information between CCRAG partners.

Provider quality assurance policies and procedures (PDF)

Fee increase procedures

CCRAG local authorities work together to monitor and negotiate increases in annual fees from independent and non-maintained special schools and residential children homes.

Whenever 2 or more CCRAG local authorities have placements with a provider, one of them is nominated as the link to conduct a fees consultation with the provider on behalf of the other local authorities. Email CCRAG@hertfordshire.gov.uk if you don't know your link local authority.

The CCRAG Partnership recognises the benefits that local authorities and providers achieve by working together in terms of efficiency, consistency and transparency.

All CCRAG local authorities want to work closely with service providers to ensure that our young people receive the best possible outcomes whilst in our care.

Our challenge as local authorities is to maintain this quality provision despite reducing budgets and an upward increase in demand. It is essential that as local authorities we ensure that “Every Penny Counts”. We are no longer in a position to be able to afford blanket uplifts and annual increases across the board. We have to buy smarter and scrutinise our spending to ensure that we are achieving best value.

With this is mind, and in line with national contracts, we're not expecting  providers who have continuing placements from CCRAG member local authorities to apply inflationary increases to their fees for 2017/18. 

We've listened to providers’ feedback and are aware that services find it frustrating to receive different paperwork to comply with local authorities’ or partnership requests.

We recognise that completing multiple forms can be very time consuming and detract resources from the fundamental services. So we've worked with the West Midlands Partnership to standardise our paperwork and align processes where appropriate.

The result of negotiations and decisions are shared across the CCRAG local authorities so they can make their own decisions regarding placement fees. Fee increases don’t have to be regionally approved and individual local authorities can pursue separate negotiations with individual providers if appropriate.

Quality assurance monitoring procedure

The CCRAG monitoring procedures allow 1 local authority to visit a provider to undertake monitoring and share their findings. This allows providers to focus on the young people in their care rather than having numerous monitoring visits from commissioners in addition to visits from Ofsted and regulation 44 visitors.

One of the statutory duties for local authority is to evidence the extent to which children’s services improve the wellbeing of children and relevant young people. Local authorities need to be confident that systems are in place to monitor their placements to ensure providers operate safe, effective and efficient services.

In this context local authority have joined together to develop and implement CCRAG Procedures for monitoring provision in Non-Maintained and Independent Special Schools (NMISS) and Children’s residential homes.

Allocated and sole placements – link local authorities

The CCRAG monitoring procedures (referred to as Quality Assurance Monitoring) involve the allocation of all NMISS and Children's Residential Homes used by 2 or more of the local authority across the participating regions, to a link local authority.

Each link local authority undertakes monitoring tasks (Quality Assurance Monitoring visits) with its allocated providers on behalf of the other local authorities using a standard form.

Where 2 or more partner local authorities have placements, visits will be allocated to the local authority who’s Head Office is closest to the placement address.  

Where 1 local authority in the CCRAG partnership has a sole placement with a provider, that provider will automatically be the link local authority but be under no obligation from CCRAG to carry out a monitoring visit. 

However, local authorities often undertake monitoring visits to their sole placements, and where this is the case that local authority is encouraged to use the partnership’s forms (Quality Assurance Monitoring Form) for the monitoring and submit this for inclusion on to the CCRAG Providers Database.

Sharing of this information is facilitated through a web based regional database known as the CCRAG providers database.  Local authorities are requested that where a provider has not registered on the providers database they take all necessary steps to encourage the provider to register their establishment.

Quality assurance monitoring procedure (PDF)

CCRAG partnership events

CCRAG subscription fees

The CCRAG Steering Group are committed to working in an open and transparent way, engaging with all stakeholders on an equal basis to create a partnership that improves outcomes for children and young people. We believe that by working together we can achieve more.  We look forward to continuing to build on these relationships and working in partnership in 2018.

Each CCRAG Local Authority Partner currently pays an annual subscription fee. From January 2018 there is a small Provider Subscription Fee to fund the cost of joint networking and development opportunities.

Provider access to the CCRAG database will remain free of charge.

 

Providers database and newsletters

To access the CCRAG database you can sign up or log in at www.ccrag.org.uk.

The CCRAG providers database holds information on all NMISS and Children's residential home. When providers register on the CCRAG database they are asked to provide information on their services, current and planned vacancies, fees, inspection and monitoring reports. All this information can be accessed by CCRAG local authorities who are looking to purchase placements for children and young people.

Providers can publish any information about the services they offer that will assist local authorities to make placement decisions. CCRAG recommend uploading documents such as Inspection Reports, Local Area Risks Assessments, Young People’s Guides, and Statement of Purpose as a minimum.

Providers also have the option to upload copies of insurance documents to aid quality assurance checks. Providers can direct local authorities to their CCRAG page instead of sending out information separately.

The CCRAG providers database is an ideal tool for providers to support local authorities to make informed decisions on placements as well the opportunity for providers to advertise vacancies and the services they offer children and young people.

Benefits for providers

  • Registration and access is easy, free and password protected.
  • A simple and quick registration process.
  • CCRAG will match your service with the needs of placing local authorities.
  • Ability to update your vacancies at any time.
  • Real time information is available to CCRAG local authority placement teams.
  • A reduction in monitoring visits from CCRAG local authorities as one visit can be conducted and shared with partners via the portal.
  • Consistency of practice across all participating CCRAG local authorities that reduces bureaucracy for providers.

CCRAG providers newsletters

CCRAG issue quarterly newsletters to providers to keep providers up to date with developments across the partnership.


Register on the CCRAG providers database to receive the newsletter.

 

It's important that providers regularly update their individual record in the CCRAG providers database to ensure that the latest information is available to local authority placement teams.

Contact us

The activities of CCRAG are co-ordinated by a team based in Children's Services on the children and young peoples commissioning team.

Email CCRAG if you have any questions about the partnership.

Children's Services
Children & Young People's Commissioning
SFAR204
Farnham House
Six Hills Way
Stevenage
SG1 2FQ

 

The team

Jacqueline Gear – Senior commissioning manager

Jacqueline has a range of management responsibilities within the team, both for Hertfordshire County Council and for regional commissioning activities. She provides management support and advice on CCRAG issues.

Karen Faulkner – CCRAG commissioning and monitoring officer

Karen is responsible for developing all the CCRAG procedures and takes the lead in working with all local authorities, providers and other stakeholders on behalf of the partnership.

Paige Kerry – Business support

Paige administers CCRAG procedures and provides information and support to local authorities and providers in all matters relating to CCRAG activities. She also administers the CCRAG providers database.