Changes in the way local authorities manage and commission children's services have resulted in authorities increasingly working with other councils on a local or regional basis to develop new systems for commissioning care and support for looked-after children.
Recently, service providers from the independent sector have joined these consortia of councils to improve links between those who commission care and the not-for-profit and commercial settings that increasingly deliver it.
The aim of bringing commissioners and providers closer together is to ensure better decisions are made about how care is delivered - and in so doing improving outcomes for children and creating savings for councils.
Despite these efforts, 75 per cent of councils overspent on children's services in 2016/17 with the Local Government Association predicting a £2bn funding gap by 2020.
In addition, Ofsted ratings suggest that while the quality of independent care providers has never been higher - around 90 per cent of residential child care and fostering agencies are judged "good" or better by Ofsted - the outcomes being achieved for children in care are inconsistent across England as a whole.
CYP Now's special report on commissioning care analyses latest research on what works in commissioning practice, the key policies shaping how services are commissioned and innovative approaches being developed by council commissioners.
Click on the links below for more:
Foster-Care Commissioning in an Age of Austerity: The Experiences and Views of the Independent Provider Sector in One English Region
Falling Through the Gaps: Exploring the Role of Integrated Commissioning in Improving Transition From Children's to Adults' Services for Young People With Long-Term Health Conditions in England
The Support Needs and Experiences of Newly Formed Adoptive Families: Findings From the Wales Adoption Study
Using Part-Time Fostering as a Family Support Service: Advantages, Challenges and Contradictions