Placement commissioning

Link Maker is used by almost every local authority in the UK to increase placement choice for children. We work with authorities, providers and national leads, across all care settings, to ensure that collaboration and data use is supported by an effective national platform.

In November 2016 Link Maker launched a commissioning platform. This makes needs-led placements easier to find, and gives the opportunity for all authorities to use a common, national platform for framework and consortium arrangements, reducing duplication and wasted time, and improving data regionally and nationally.

Read a guide to trialling the commissioning platform


  • Evaluate vacancies quickly. All in-house and external vacancies can be ordered according to how they may best match a child's specific needs, and filtered by requirements such as geography and required start dates.
  • See the widest range of vacancies. All vacancies are instantly visible whether in-house, on a framework, or nationally. Whatever the criteria or level of need, there is no delay in accessing all options.
  • Manage provider groups. Create custom groups of providers (including other local authorities) according to contract frameworks, or those providing specific services. Groups can then be used to filter available vacancies, or to define a range of providers to which a commissioning profile should be issued.
  • Issue placement requests. Issue placement requests to any defined provider group or groups, and within tightly defined geographical criteria, instantly and securely. Deploy current documents and contact details more efficiently, or use the new universal commissioning profile.
  • Schedule placement requests. According to the policy in each case, the issuing of commissioning profile can be automated to progress from, for example, in-house, to a framework, to any provider in a defined area, at appropriate intervals. The sequence can be set to stop automatically when sufficient placements have been offered.
  • Reach all current providers. Placement requests can be issued to all providers with whom an authority works. Those not already using Link Maker would receive invitations by email to register for free in order to securely access placement requests that have been issued to them.
  • Access off-contract placements. Where a vacancy from a different contract framework is of interest, details of the provider, including membership of other frameworks, are available so that options can be explored.
  • Universal commissioning profile. Clear and complete information is captured including the purpose of the placement, the outcomes sought, the child's views, assessed risks, and when the placement is needed. The new form has been developed for Link Maker by Marie Tucker at CICADA Services, based on her research for ICHA into the use of placement request forms. The form will be kept under review to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the sector. An existing placement request form can be uploaded instead if preferred.
  • Define response timescales. Request that placement offers are submitted by a specific date to allow consideration of options, negotiation of contracts and planning of the placement.
  • Manage cases and tasks flexibly. All users accounts are specific to individuals, so that cases and tasks can be shared between managers, commissioners, placement officers and social workers according to prevailing practice and policy in the organisation.
  • Meet data protection obligations. All documents and messages are shared securely with carers and external providers, with information encrypted using the password of the intended recipient, and made available to them for only as long as it is needed. Link Maker is ISO 27001 accredited and all data is hosted in the UK.
  • Keep information up-to-date. All users can update their profiles and cases directly, in real time. Link Maker monitors all activity and intervenes directly with users by email and telephone whenever an update, or a user response, may be overdue.
  • Effective oversight. A range of user-level permissions can be applied, granting the ability to view activity against all cases and to run detailed activity reports.
  • Plan ahead. Live data is always available, and can be aggregated regionally and nationally. Powerful reports and dashboards enable supply and demand to be monitored effectively, in real time.
  • Online presence. Manage a customised, branded portal for staff from your organisation. This can provide news and information, host resources, and hold forums for practice discussion.
  • Collaborate. A comprehensive range of collaboration features for regional services and consortia are included.
  • Readily available support. Unlimited online and telephone support for all users from 9-5pm, Monday-Friday
  • Ongoing development. Nothing in children's social care stands still, and Link Maker's continuous development is shaped by feedback and suggestions from users.

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