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Venture Spotlight: Cornerstone


So what’s it all about?


The Cornerstone Partnership's programme of recruitment and retention offers a comprehensive ‘end to end’ package of foster carer support to local authorities, creating a lasting and sustainable solution.


Many local authorities are struggling to recruit sufficient in-house carers and have to resort to using Independent Fostering Agencies (IFA) to provide placements for children at a much higher cost. This often entails placing children outside of their local area, meaning a change of school and loss of support networks.


The Cornerstone Partnership’s sustainable solution is predicated on bringing the end user perspective into the heart of the service and operates in modules: recruitment, retention, and support. The full programme, including data capture and reporting, runs for two-and-a-half-years and works side-by-side with the authority’s in-house team to upskill officers


The Cornerstone Partnership’s proven track record of delivering a lasting solution to fostering recruitment addresses a priority challenge for London.


We spoke to Katie Wilkinson, Commercial Director at The Cornerstone Partnership:


How did you get involved with London Ventures?

We had previously worked with EY in our roles at the GLA and LDA and were connected to London Ventures via Darra Singh, EY Market Lead for UK Government and Public Sector.  After meeting with the programme and exploring the most appropriate way to move a partnership forward we became a London Ventures partner at the start of 2017.


It’s a perfect environment as the appetite for innovation to help transform public services delivery is exactly aligned with our mission and approach.


What do you think is The Cornerstone Partnership’s unique selling point?

User led innovation from a user led social enterprise.  Our approach to everything is predicated on bringing the end user perspective into the heart of the service.  This co-production is much more than just input or feedback and instead we ensure that end users are always part of the service delivery.  In our foster carer recruitment and retention programme we bring in existing foster carers as ambassadors through a local event based marketing plan.


Our model of foster carer recruitment offers an end to end solution which not only focuses on recruitment but before this even happens we work with local authorities in-house teams to analyse and diagnose their specific barriers to recruitment and the marketing plan that follows is bespoke and aligned to tackling these barriers.  Similarly to complement the recruitment and ensure new recruits stay motivated, connected and confident we deliver peer to peer mentoring and therapeutic parenting training.  Mentors are experienced foster carers who can help normalise their situation and help engagement and the training ensures we provide children with confident carers who are well placed to improve the child’s long term well-being and life chances.


Why is The Cornerstone Partnership an exciting opportunity for London local authorities?

We know there is a shortage of Foster Carers across London and this, combined with the changing profile and needs of children in care, is putting Local authorities - the Corporate Parents - under pressure as they try to meet the needs of these children.  There is no question that innovation within this sector is needed to ensure we improve the life chances of children in the care system and we know from our conversations with Local authorities and our roundtable in May with London Ventures that there is a real desire from the sector to identify innovative and unique approaches to tackle the challenges around Foster Carer recruitment and retention.

This is really exciting for London local authorities as our approach generates a really effective and supportive pathway to recruit, assess in a timely way, and support foster carers to ultimately improve the life chances of children in care, which is our primary mission.


Why you should get involved

There are multiple financial and non-financial benefits to implementing the service. Cost savings of £265k annual have been realised, along with average foster carer enquiries increasing by 30%. There are fewer placement breakdowns, a robust set of performance management tools, and training and support for foster carers. The Cornerstone Partnership is a long term sustainable strategy.


The Cornerstone Partnership in a nutshell

The Cornerstone Partnership are currently work with 14 Local authorities in London and the South East across both adoption support and foster care recruitment, retention and support. Our approach is based on bringing the end user perspective into the heart of the service, co-delivering services alongside social workers and injecting a complementary set of skills into organisations.


Find out more…

If you want to understand how The The Cornerstone Partnership Partnership can support your local authority, contact Katie Wilkinson ([email protected]) or Lisa Henry ([email protected]).