Social Impact Bond – Moving from Residential to Foster Care

Evaluation of Birmingham City Council’s Step Down Programme

Some young people in residential care have poor outcomes and are placed too far from their families to maintain any contact. Residential care is also a very expensive form of care. The Step Down programme is a partnership between Birmingham City Council (now Birmingham Children’s Trust) and Core Assets which started in July 2014 to bring young people out of residential homes into foster placements. The social investor Bridges Ventures has provided a Social Impact Bond for the programme.

Key Findings from Evaluation 

By April 2018, 33 placements had been made via the Step Down Programme (31 young people as two were placed twice). Twelve young people had graduated (having reached 52 weeks in the placement) and seven were in current Step Down placements.

The findings from the evaluation are mixed but on balance, both the increased stability established for many of the young people and the cost savings, suggest that it should be regarded in the main, as a success. An estimate of the cost savings achieved in the Step Down Programme over the first three and a half years is nearly £2m.

On average, across the first four years and assuming current placements of less than 52 weeks are stable, a 64% (20:31) stability rate has been achieved across the 31 young people. There is evidence that most young people achieved greater stability than they experienced prior to the Programme as indicated by their previous trajectories. Other positive outcomes noted were:

  • Young people were engaging in much higher level of activities than they were in their prior residential placements
  • Attendance at school was generally high, higher than at baseline, with poor attendance recorded for only five young people
  • Both foster carers and social workers reported reductions in anger and self-harm.