How can the musical activity with looked after children work be embedded and sustained after the funding has ceased?

Why this is an important question

If the work is valuable at all it needs to be embedded in the ongoing offer to looked after children in an area.
Funding bids are more likely to be successful if thought has been given to an embedding/sustainability strategy.

Sustainability strategies are often more likely to be successful if built in from the start of a project rather than tacked on at the end.

"The 12 week programme had a very positive impact but has now stopped. Access to musicians has stopped and this is disappointing ."
(Project manager)

"I hate it that we raise expectations and then the funding stops – the young people have been let down so much." (Singing leader)

Towards answers

Sustainability strategies can be low cost or no cost and include: changes to mainstream provision to enable some looked after children to access it; support for care staff and foster carers to continue singing and musical activity in their existing roles; the creation of a skilled body of musicians experienced in working with looked after children.

The main planks of any embedding/sustainability strategy are

  • Developing high quality work
  • Reviewing and following a policy of continuous improvement
  • Identifying appropriately and objectively the benefit to individual children, foster families, carer staff and organisations
  • Communicating this effectively  to key stakeholders persistently and imaginatively.

Illustrations from practice

(Taken from music projects funded by Sing Up and Youth Music)

"Foster carers will continue to sing in their own homes using the CD provided by the project and are now are all skilled on how to use the Sing Up website after our training. New foster carers will receive the new foster carers handbook that now includes a section on singing as part of the health and well being section written by this project."
(Singing leader)

"Most recently, with our Early Years taster sessions, we had immediate reports of the carers using the songs to make bathtime more fun, bed time less of a traumatic experience, and even using ‘Walk & Stop’ as a game along the street to stop that particular child from constantly running away!"
(Project Manager)

"The head of the respite care centre for looked after children with complex needs wanted to create a singing home, but had not in the past done any singing herself – until we came along to a training session in September, when the whole staff sang really well together. If we wish to show that certain activities might be beneficial to children and young people we must be prepared to demonstrate the activities too. If young people see adults around them not singing in a school assembly, or at a family wedding  for example,  they can be put off the activity themselves. Staff at the home are now skilled in using singing as part of their range of stimulating activities and at transition points during each day with the children in their care."
(Singing leader)

Impact on strategic partners

"CYPS now value singing as a powerful means of improving self-confidence, self-esteem and modifying behaviour."
(CYPS Manager)

"We have been very pleased to embrace a family learning model for our sessions (which as we reported was a happy accident!) about which we have had very positive reactions, and it is in turn informing the work of the wider programme too."
(Project Manager)

As a result of its Sing Up/NCB funded work, one music organisation has since:

  • obtained £8000 from its local authority to continue the work with secondary aged locked after children
  • been funded by its independent fostering service partner to spread the work to two further centre
  • been asked to be a field arm of two national organisations researching music and emotional resilience
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