Tusla have committed to using the total resources available for children and families in the most efficient, equitable, proportionate and sustainable way in order to improve outcomes for children. This new approach to Commissioning requires Tusla to consider distributing resources in a more transparent, outcomes-focused, evidenced informed and participatory way. Tusla recognises that commissioning does not just mean contracting of external providers – commissioning also happens internally within the organisation and Tusla’s Commissioning approach applies equally to these internally commissioned services.
Tusla has adopted the following principles in relation to commissioning,
- Early intervention / prevention will be prioritised at all levels of service delivery - low, medium and high.
- Priority will be given to programmes and services that are evidence based and evidence informed.
- Commissioning will take account of and actively address the specifics of the local context.
- Commissioning will support both small highly targeted services and large scale local, regional and national services.
- Commissioning should incorporate key capacity-building measures for the local community and voluntary sector in order that it can respond to the local context and the market position of Tusla.
Context for Commissioning:
Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures is the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people in Ireland (aged 0-24 years). Some of the main aims of the framework include earlier intervention and prevention; supporting parents; listening to children & young people; quality services e.g. ‘Resource allocation within services will be based on the evidence of both need and effectiveness, and services that are not working will be decommissioned; effective transitions; and cross-Government and interagency collaboration and coordination. This Policy Framework specifically states that Tusla must:
‘Provide and commission both universal and targeted evidence-informed parenting supports and ensure early identification of ‘at risk’ children and families to strengthen families and reduce the incidences of children coming into, and remaining in, care’.
Tusla has undertaken developmental work in relation to commissioning in six Areas in 2016 and a further 5 Areas in 2017 with the support of the Institute of Public Care, Oxford Brookes University.
Also in 2017, Tusla has developed the Creative Community Alternatives Initiative in six pilot areas, all of which have undertaken commissioning in either 2016 or 2017. These areas have been assigned specific additional budget to introduce innovative high prevention initiatives that are aimed at those children who are either on the edge of alternative care or currently in alternative care due to complex factors that may include neglect, parental separation, attachment issues, alcohol and /or drug misuse, mental health and economic disadvantage with a view to keeping these children in their community.