Innovation and insight for local authorities

Coram-i provide expertise and resources that help local authorities improve children’s services and the outcomes they achieve for children.

At Coram-i, we share expertise with local authorities and other agencies, using a data-led approach to deliver better outcomes for looked-after children. Through our pioneering improvement work and long-term partnerships, we provide support to local authorities, ensuring they are better equipped to achieve permanency for looked-after children.

How we help local authorities

We are committed to helping vulnerable children have the best possible chance to live a fulfilling life. We work with local authorities that want to improve how they deliver children’s services. We offer a range of consultancy services that help local authorities to:

  • achieve better performance against government scorecards and Ofsted inspection judgements
  • develop innovative solutions to intractable problems, in partnership with other local authorities and private sector partners
  • gather young service users’ views to inform service development
  • increase staff productivity, satisfaction and effectiveness
  • reduce resources spent supporting looked after children as a result of earlier permanence placements
  • access more accurate and timely management information 
  • increase service-user satisfaction 
  • progress complex cases

We support local authorities to strengthen their work in adoption, fostering and special guardianship arrangements. We offer a range of services including consultations; support and coaching; embedded working within a team; and service management, delivery and integration. Find out more using the dropdowns below.

Tools and improvement services

Coram Innovation Incubator

Improving outcomes for vulnerable children through innovation

The Coram Innovation Incubator (CII) is a space and vehicle for generating, testing and scaling (i.e. incubating) new approaches to the most important and intractable challenges in children’s services as defined by the providers of those services. The CII benefits from the expertise, capacity and know-how of our external partners, Ernst & Young and Microsoft, as well as its members. Bringing together groups of local authorities and public bodies that share a common challenge, leveraging private sector partners and combining the collective wisdom and ideas to create and test ground-breaking innovations will lead to a stepped change in the way services operate and more importantly, improve outcomes for children.

The incubator is about the art of the possible: working in partnership on a range of complex challenges for children and creating the capacity for change in organisations and the sector.

Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board

Coram-i was contracted to provided a Secretariat service to the ASGLB between July 2019 and December 2022, which included administering quarterly data collection and Board meetings. The ASGLB has now been closed, but we continue to administer the voluntary, quarterly adoption and special guardianship data collection on behalf of the children’s social care sector in England.


Improvement support

This consists of one-off consultations or longer term support. Our approach is tailored to your needs and we offer a full range of solutions. The different types of improvement support include:

Specialist consultations: Our experienced multi-disciplinary team, including social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, can provide one-off, case focused discussions to enable agreement on care plans; or advice about the way forward in complex cases, such as sibling separation or placement of older children who have suffered disruption.  We also conduct audits of case files.

Support and coaching: Working with staff, we will introduce new ways of operating that will improve performance in line with the national agenda.

Embedded team: Our staff will work within your service to support its delivery and role model how to work effectively.

Managed service: By taking on the management of a particular service within the local authority, Coram-i will share responsibility for the service.

Delivered service: Providing the delivery of the service on behalf of a local authority.

Integration services: Helping with the integration of multiple agencies, based on what we have learnt from the creation of agencies such as Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption Agency.

Adoption service diagnostics

We use the diagnostic to identify differences in the types of children under the responsibility of the local authority; drift in children’s adoption journeys and analyse the possible reasons for long care journeys; drift in adopters’ journeys and possible reasons for delays; calculate the productivity rate of services in placing children and recruiting adopters; and calculate unit cost of placing a child for adoption.

Legal deep dive

The aim of the legal deep dive is to provide a quantitative analysis of care planning and court processes for young children in a local authority. From this we develop hypotheses about the reasons for blockages and delay, and suggest areas of improvement in social work and legal planning.

Tracking tool

The Coram-i Tracking Tool has been developed to support adoption agencies in ensuring they have accurate, up-to-date data on the children and prospective adopters, and to provide managers and staff with the information they need to deliver a high quality service.

This tool will give managers and staff meaningful data that will help them manage their cases and keep track of performance. It has been designed through our improvement support work to meet the needs that existing ICS do not. It will complement an ICS and so will be particularly invaluable to any agencies that are integrating their services.

Bright Spots

Local authorities supporting positive wellbeing and care experiences for the children and young people they look after

The Bright Spots programme is a partnership between Coram Voice and the University of Bristol that aims to improve the well-being of children in care by identifying and promoting practises that have a positive influence on children and young people’s well-being.

The key objectives of the programme are to:

  • Understand, from a children in care and care leavers’ perspective, the key elements of well-being and how this compares to children and young people in the general population
  • Measure the well-being of children in care and care leavers
  • Promote an understanding of what well-being and a positive care experience is for children in care and care leavers
  • Identify those local authorities where children and young people have greater well-being
  • Deep dive to identify the ‘bright spots’ – the practices and policies that contribute to children and young people’s well-being
  • Support local authorities to improve children and young people’s well-being
  • Influence national policy to drive improvements in children and young people’s wellbeing

How we work

We employ a data-led approach to analyse performance and identify areas for improvement, using our specialised improvement framework and diagnostic tools. We also draw on our experience of improving the lives of children to shape and deliver solutions. 

Our unique multi-skilled teams of practitioners include social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, analysts and other professionals. This means we can tackle problems on several levels, enabling us to determine the nature and scale of problems and effective solutions.

Our Coram-i team will be happy to answer your questions about our consultancy services, and how we can work with your local authority to achieve the best possible results for children. Please complete our online form with your enquiry or contact us directly on

“The diagnostic report provided the impetus for action planning in a manner that is superior to the Ofsted report because it brought the impact and delay for our children alive at the individual case level and then aggregate.”
Steve Tanner, Interim Head of Children’s Care Services in Buckinghamshire

Meet the team

Louise Jelks, ASGLB Data Lead for the Children’s and Social Care Secretariat

Where did you work before Coram-i and how long have been here?

I am a local government professional and have worked in different areas of Children Services including school place planning and pupil forecasts, early years funding programmes and childcare sustainability, school information and performance, and data and research. I made the move to the charity sector in 2018 working for CVAA as a Data Manager and Policy Analyst and joined Coram in July 2019.

What was it that made you want to join the team?

I transferred from CVAA when Coram-i was awarded the Children’s and Social Care Secretariat contract by the DfE. It was an exciting opportunity to be able to continue to deliver the ASGLB data collection and shape the delivery of the new contract, providing the much-needed analysis and reporting to support the sector and policy development

I am one of the original members of the team and it has been lovely to build and grow the team around the delivery of the secretariat.

Tell us about your job and what it involves?

I am the ASGLB Data Lead and manage the delivery of the quarterly ASGLB Child, SGO and Adopter data collection. I report to Board on system performance, publish the ASGLB data and Headline Measures, undertake data analysis and reporting and provide key facts and figures. I also support the work of the RAA Leaders and DfE colleagues with deep dive analysis and ad hoc data requests.

What’s the best bit of your job?

There is so many best bits of my job. I work with an amazing team within Coram-i who are all supportive, knowledgeable, professional and totally committed to improving the outcomes for all children. Collaborative working with colleagues at the DfE makes it a pleasure to work as part of the Secretariat.  I could not deliver a successfully data collection without the commitment of my colleagues in LAs, RAAs and VAAs who every quarter submit their data returns without fail.

No two days are ever the same and my work is very varied. One day I could be working on the data collection, checking data returns and data cleansing or writing up a report on a piece of analysis, and the next day I could be providing facts and figures for a press release, presenting at Board, providing the DfE with charts for ministerial briefings or attending meetings with RAA colleagues.

Knowing that the work I do helps to improve the system which finds our most vulnerable children their forever family is a really good feeling.

And the most challenging?

Most challenging is juggling the various strands of work and projects that the team is supporting whilst prioritising the data collection. There is always more analysis that can be done, a deeper dive into the data but sadly not always the time.  It can be frustrating when the data just can’t tell you what you need to know, and the analysis leads to more questions than the data can answer.

What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?

There are lots of pieces of work I am proud of, most notably achieving and maintaining 100% return rate for the quarterly ASGLB data collection, securing agreement from the ASGLB to set up the Racial Disparity task group following the death of George Floyd, publishing adopter characteristics analysis to support and inform the recruitment of a diverse group of adopters, and using the data to focus the sectors attention of the cohort of children who has been waiting the longest for adoption

Finally, away from work, what’s at the top of your bucket list?

Like the rest of the world I want to start travelling again and there are so many countries on my bucket list. My Dad was in the Navy and was based in the Far East so I am keen to continue exploring the routes he travelled and the countries he visited.  I also would love to be at Cape Canaveral for a rocket launch.

Ruby Jardine, Data & Performance Analyst

Where did you work before Coram-i and how long have been here?

This is my first job since graduating university in summer 2021. I’ve been working here since November 2021.

What does your job involve?

I’m a Data and Performance Analyst. My job mainly revolves around the quarterly data collection process. I assist in collecting data from agencies across England and undertake analysis projects on the data.

What was it that made you want to join the team?

I have always loved numbers and my favourite topics in school and university revolved around maths and statistics.  But, I also really wanted to work with children in some way. So, being part of the data team for a charity that supports children and young people is the perfect combination for me. I also felt so comfortable during the interview and I really felt like the organisation aligned with my ethos of positivity.

What’s the best bit of your job?

Definitely the people. They are some of the friendliest and supportive people I have met. I instantly felt part of the team when I joined and have really enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them over the past 8 months.

And the most challenging?

Starting work during the pandemic was definitely challenging. Getting to grips with a new role and meeting the team online was a whole new experience. But the team made it manageable and we’ve given each other constant support.

What’s the piece of work you’re most proud of?

I’m very proud of  working on the editing of one of our guidance documents for agencies. This involved filtering instructions to identify the cohorts of children and adopters that we include in our quarterly headline measures reports. It was one of the first projects I completed independently and  it’s now being used by agencies across England to check their data.

Finally, away from work, what’s at the top of your bucket list?

To visit more countries in Africa – ideally all 54 countries but that may be too ambitious! After spending a year of my childhood in Lesotho, I really want to go back and experience more of the culture and the environment.

Fern Whiting, Administration and Communications Officer

Where did you work before Coram-i and how long have been here?

I worked briefly at Frontline Aids whilst completing my degree in English Language with Creative Writing. I was part of a small team focusing on contract support and international logistics – mainly around projects in Africa. Whilst working there I decided that upon finishing my degree I would look for work in the charity sector. I’ve been with the Coram-i team since October 2021.

What was it that made you want to join the team?

I wanted to utilise and develop my skills in the charity sector and I jumped at the chance to join Coram. I’m so pleased to have found an organisation with such an interesting history and an inspiring commitment to improving the lives of vulnerable children and young people. I knew instantly at my interview that this was a fantastic team and I was overjoyed to be accepted for the role.

Tell us about your job and what it involves?

My job role is varied but predominantly I provide administrative support to the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board and related Reference and Task Groups. I take the minutes in ASGLB related meetings and liaise with board members and attendees to ensure the meetings run smoothly. I send out the weekly ASGLB update emails, engage with other organisations via Twitter and assist with ad hoc comms tasks for the Secretariat.

What’s the best bit of your job?

I feel incredibly lucky to have an amazing team around me and to be able to connect with so many individuals from across the sector. Everyone is different but they all share the same sincerity and commitment to their respective areas. There are many challenges in this sector but it is encouraging and inspiring to see so many people working towards shared goals.

I also love that no two days are the same and I have the freedom to manage my own workload and development. Every day feels like a school day – in a good way of course!

And the most challenging?

Keeping track of all the acronyms! There seems to be a never ending stream of terminology to keep track of when writing up the minutes. I see the appeal of shortening names but I am going to have to resort to flashcards to learn them all!

What’s are you most proud of?

I am proud of the progress I have made since I started at Coram-i and I look forward to making more substantial contributions to the team as I gain more experience. Outside of work I am most proud of my degree, as a mature student I was apprehensive about how well I would do but finished with a First overall and an 80% on my final dissertation. I surprised myself over and over again and I am so proud of what I was able to achieve given the circumstances.

Finally, away from work, what’s at the top of your bucket list?

I would love to get back to Japan to see more of the country. I travelled there briefly for some training in 2012 but wasn’t able to do much sightseeing. It’s a beautiful country and I hope to be able to explore it more in future trips.

Tanya Coles, Incubator Development Lead

Where did you work before Coram-i and how long have been here?

I’ve been in the charity sector for 23 years. The last 11 of them were at Carers Trust where I started as a Grants Manager (delivering grants programmes with carer organisations) and ended up as Programme Lead for a multi-partner programme establishing new services for young and young adult carers. I came across the advert for this role at Coram by chance, and it was exactly the sort of thing I was looking for as my next step. I’ve been with the Coram-i team since March 2024.

What was it that made you want to join the team?

I’m passionate about all children having the best possible start in life, regardless of who they are, where they live, and who they live with, so Coram’s mission really resonated with me. I feel like fate intervened!

Tell us about your job and what it involves?

I lead Coram’s Innovation Incubator, which aims to empower leaders and managers to develop innovative solutions to improve services for children and young people. It facilitates innovations that have significant and sustained impacts on children’s life chances. The Innovation Incubator is a membership programme, where we provide webinars, learning sets, leadership training, project support and consultancy to our members, building their capacity to innovate. We also produce an annual publication, called the Collective, to showcase innovation from across the sector, and deliver an annual conference. My role is to ensure the Incubator delivers all of this whilst being responsive to the needs of our members, the wider sector and ultimately the needs of children and young people, driving improvements through innovation.

What’s the best bit of your job?

It has been a steep learning curve since I started in March, but the best thing about my job so far is having the freedom to explore and learn about new things. I studied visual art many years ago, and this role enables me to embrace my creativity and adopt a more agile approach to my work. I have lots of ideas and I love using design thinking to bring them into reality.

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