Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee - Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting was held remotely via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.



There were no apologies for absence.


Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 282 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 19 January 2021 as an accurate record.

(To follow)



The Minutes of 19 January 2021 were agreed as an accurate record subject to the following amendment:


Minute Number 6/21, para 2: Spending was increased in order to drive improvement and standards which resulted in a Good Ofsted rating in 2020



Disclosures of interest

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.



There were none.



Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.


There were no urgent items of business.



Children's Social Care, Early Help and Education dashboards pdf icon PDF 2 MB

The Chair has agreed to take this as an urgent item.


The Interim Director of Early Help and Children’s Social Care introduced the dashboard and the following was highlighted:

·         Overall open cases remain low, this has been in part due to Covid Lockdown

·         Caseload of Social Workers were at departmental expected level

·         There had been an increase in re referrals was analysis taking place to understand the reasons behind this

·         Speed on initial conferences was being monitored

·         % of Early Help cases where families disengage was being reviewed and it was expected that Covid context was having an impact on engagement

·         Children returned to CP plan was 23

·         The number of care leavers not in NEET was below expected figures, this in part was due to current national restrictions


It was commented that caseloads were at an acceptable level but there had been increase in some of the indicators which needed to be addressed and it was asked if the situations were under control. Officers said that performance had dipped in some areas but there was confidence in the robustness of heads of services action plans to address issues. There had been appropriate challenge by the Executive in areas where it had been identified that action plans were not robust enough.


A Member observed  that there was a stark difference in issues in LA control and those only partly and as such on presenting information in the dashboard,  it would be useful to extricate one from the other for adequate comparisons to be made


It was asked what the LA’s aspiration to reduce the number of children in care was as some of the data did not provide a good prognosticate indicator to reduce the number of children in care. For example there was an identifiable increase in cases in early help to be stepped in to children’s social care coupled with high number of cases of family disengagement. Officers said that one of the reasons they look at engagement was to push and drive officers to understand influencing factors for families to engage. Indicators provide a basis to understanding the reasons why and allows for escalation of concerns where necessary. When families step up and step down officers need to understand if the early help referral was the right decision at the time in order to prevent not getting the right services to families in ample time. Many families have repeat issues which is not necessarily negative, but needed partner understanding on preventative measures and for conversations on emerging concerns to take place to ensure that re referrals are minimised. It was vital to listen to children and families on their experience of the service.


It was asked when a child met the threshold for S47, whether keeping children out of care was a legitimate reasons for this action not to be taken. Officers said that if decisions about protecting children were made on the basis of not using financial resource this would be fundamentally wrong as decisions had to be made on a proportionate and reasonable basis. Legal meetings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/21


Action list update

Discussion on actions arising from previous meetings.


The updated action plane was discussed and the following was noted:


·         The items currently on the list were not urgent, with several to be completed by the Interim Director of Education.

·         The Interim Director of Education confirmed that the link to teaching schools would be circulated in the next week once in the public domain.

·         All briefing papers requested will be discussed to establish when would be the most appropriate time to bring them before the sub- committee.

·         Contact had been made to arrange a date for the meeting to take place with the Regional Schools Commissioner.



Update on Antenatal and Development Check Visits pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To receive a report from the Croydon Safeguarding Children’s Board as recommended at the meeting of 3 November 2020.

(Report to follow)

Additional documents:


The Chair expressed thanks to officers for the briefing papers circulated to Members on Neglect as requested at the last meeting of the sub-committee. The detailed content of the paper was commended as it addressed concerns.


A Member questioned why there had been a delay in setting out actions as per the Neglect Practice guide and milestones. The strategy commenced in 2019 and it was asked what the monitoring framework would be and who the Greater Care Profile practitioners were. Officers acknowledged that timeframe had not been outlined in the briefing supplied. There had been delay to proceedings due Covid but there was an upcoming meeting to discuss the next steps. It was envisaged that the action plan would be drawn up in April ready to have everything in place by June with the commencement of training and ongoing monitoring using the Greater Care Profile tool. Monitoring would be through the quality monitoring group. The neglect community champions were current practitioners such as social workers, school health nurses.


The Director of Public Health introduced the item on Antenatal and Developmental Check visits. and shared a Presentation. This was followed up by a Presentation from the Associate Director of Operations, Croydon NHS Trust and Head of Public Health Nursing, Croydon NHS Trust.


Following the presentations, Members had the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member challenged that the presentation stated that there had been 100% new birth visits completed in January 2021, the instruction from NHS was that visits were not to take place face to face and if this was the case how was the target achieved. It also stated that antenatal visits for risk assessments had been completed and it was difficult to understand how risk assessments could adequately be assessed over the telephone. Officers said that in Croydon, face to face visits were being provided. Face to face contact was being done with the use of correct PPE and the figures supplied were correct with all new birth visits that were due completed within the 10-14 day time frame. As part of processes, health visiting service attended the monthly vulnerable women group and women that were identified as being at risk were discussed and targeted for visits. Midwifery and health visiting team leaders meet monthly to identify most vulnerable women who were then targeted for visits. There is duty line and ‘chat help’ for practitioners to refer any concerns and mothers that are discharged from maternity unit received daily telephone call and any identified risks were shared with the health visiting service.


The commitment for improvement of the service was commended but it was highlighted that performance had been an issue for a number of year. This was reflected in public health data and a further question was raised on what was being done to contact the cohort of families that did not have the home visits as they should have. Additionally if there was a recovery plan in place to address issues. Officers said that they had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/21


Staff Changes, Service Impact and Response to Budget Reduction in Early Help and Children's Social Care

To receive an overview of the staff changes, service impact and response to the budget reductions proposed under the Croydon Renewal Plan.

(Report to follow)


This Item was taken as part of the Cabinet Member Q&A item as many of the items were covered by that report and presentation.



Cabinet Member Q&A: Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning pdf icon PDF 438 KB

Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming.

(Report to follow)

Additional documents:



The Cabinet Member for Children Families and Education introduced the item and outlined the details in a Presentation


Following the presentation, Members had the opportunity to ask questions.


A Member raised concerns about the loss leadership staff in the Inclusions department and highlighted the importance and value of the work started to remain an area of focus. Officers said that inclusions was a key element of the work with children and families and the team work was based on inclusions lead model which was about meeting the needs of children and young people through collaboration with schools. Fundamentally governance around SEND which was previously not in place had now been developed.


A Member commented that the presentation showed innovation despite issues in some areas of service. The department operated a social work academy and it was challenged that this was a system that had previously been in place with little results. The Cabinet Member responded that the social work academy linked into work around recruitment and retention of staff. The difference with the model now was the imbedding of support for ASYE and frontline staff, additionally there had been improvements made to consistency of line of sight.


It was asked what specific actions and resources would be put in place for children and young people to be supported with mental health wellbeing and address any safeguarding issues as a result of the past 12 months given the imminent return to school. The Cabinet Member said that trailblazing work was already embedded in schools. There was work taking place at national level to explore additional funding that would be needed to support the further work. Some of the work would be completed under the good partnership and part of that would take place once pupils were back at school and emerging issues came to light. It was difficult to forecast what the support young people would be until specific problems presented themselves but children’s social care would work alongside education to provide a responsive service. It was acknowledged that national input was needed due to the financial element that would be needed to support children and their families.


Officers added that the impact of the last 12 months would emerge upon return to school and in the coming months. Services would need to move away from Covid cases, to how families were coping with the aftermath. The education directorate had an acute awareness of what was happening in schools and they also sat within SPOC to provide first hand support as needed. There was funding in place through the Young Londoner initiative which had provided a wellbeing grant for 10 schools in the borough and the department was exploring how to widen the support beyond the 10 schools. Discussions were underway on whether to utilise the grants by having mental health first aiders in all schools and a mapping exercise would take place to determine best use.


The Chair added that children would present in different ways and that open questions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/21


What difference has this meeting made to Croydon's children

To discuss the findings from this meeting and expectations for Croydon’s Children.


Following discussions, the sub-committee agreed that:


·         The impact of the pandemic and lockdowns on children and young people was of great concern due to the range of issues that would be presented in the coming weeks and months.


·         The message on savings and the budget was poignant as the need to make saving was essential but equally important was to ensure that quality of provision of service for children remain at high standard.