Scaling and Spreading No Wrong Door

Innovation in Children’s Social Care

With Sheffield City Council, Middlesbrough Council, Greater Manchester local authorities and Bradford City Council

No Wrong Door is a tried-and-tested approach, developed by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC), that works with adolescents who are in care or on the edge of care. This new approach is currently being implemented by several other local authorities including Bradford, Middlesbrough, Sheffield, and six authorities in Greater Manchester. Innovation Unit and NYCC are working in partnership to help local authorities adopt and adapt this new approach to their local system.

The effects caused by pressures in terms of funding and wider resources on the system mean that young people can feel as though they are being bounced between services and residential or foster placements; it’s not uncommon for young people to be sent to ‘out of area’ placements far from their friends and family. Because of this, the experience for young people in care can become fragmented and lonely, which can damage their well-being. Outcomes in later life for many care-experienced young people are very poor.

The Problem


The number of looked after children living ‘out of area’ in England. This is 41% of all children in care.


The amount this number has risen by since 2014.


The number of these children that are more than 20 miles from what they would call home. Over 2,000 are further than 100 miles away.


The amount of the children living outside their local area that have special educational needs. A quarter have social, emotional and mental health identified as their primary need.

The innovation

No Wrong Door (NWD) is an integrated service and approach which attempts to provide reliable, caring and effective support to adolescents facing significant risks in care or on the edge of the care. The model combines residential children’s homes, specialist fostering, high needs supported lodgings and bespoke placements with an outreach offer to young people living with their families.

The team has a defined culture and practice based on multidisciplinary and collaborative working with residential staff, therapists, psychologists and social workers working together through a shared practice framework.

At the heart of the model is a hub based in a children’s home, which provides short-term residential placements and outreach support to 30-40 young people at any one time.

One of the goals is to reduce the number of young people coming into care, and to support those already in care to find permanence in a family based setting – either through long-term foster care, reunification with their families or independence.

At the heart of the approach is the key worker relationship with the young person, which aims to be long-term and reliable – focused on sticking with the young person. With the support of the multidisciplinary team, including a Speech and Language therapist, Life Coach (psychologist) and Police representative, all co-located within the NWD Hub, the worker is able to draw on a range of placements options, services and outreach support to meet the young person’s needs and support them to achieve their goals.

“Well, ideally, when we’ve got a family at crisis point we work with that family and that family then learns to manage the crisis and learns to alleviate the crisis so they can live a little bit happier together, and not end up in care.” NYCC NWD staff member

Innovation Unit first worked with the No Wrong Door team as part of the Department for Education’s Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme.  Our current role, working in partnership with NYCC, is to support each local authority adopting the innovation in understanding the NWD vision and values, practice and culture, interrogating the NWD ways of working, and adapting these for their local context. We use a learning and coaching approach which aims to build capability, build a shared understanding of the project’s vision, desired outcomes and design principles, and focus on the specific needs of locality’s young people.

Through the DfE Innovation programme we’ve providing coaching support to the team adopting of the NWD model in Bradford as part of the B Positive Pathways project (also including the Mockingbird fostering model), in Sheffield, in Middlesbrough, and now in six local authorities across Greater Manchester: Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Trafford, and Wigan.

“I have to admit that initially being embedded in the home felt out of my comfort zone and made me a little uneasy, but actually it has proven to be the most effective way to reach these vulnerable young people” NYCC Life Coach/Clinical Psychologist

Between January 2015 and March 2017, NWD in North Yorkshire was independently evaluated by Loughborough University as part of the DfE’s Innovation Programme. During this period NWD worked with 355 young people, 67% through outreach work. The model demonstrated significant financial savings, improved outcomes for young people and reductions in numbers of children looked after.



The number of out-of-area placements used in North Yorkshire 2016/17


The reduction in hospital admissions


The percentage of young people referred to NWD remaining out of care and supported by their own families

5,311 to 3,101

The reduction in bed nights between 2014/15 and 2016/17, equivalent to a £1.8m reduction in staff time. This saving in time was used for Edge of Care work to prevent young people coming into care.

“It’s much better than I thought it would be. I have a key-worker. I can’t think of anything they could do better, I can talk to any of the staff if I need to.” Young person in North Yorkshire

“I am seen as an individual and not a problem.” Young person in North Yorkshire