Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: The Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email: stephanie.davis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

12/19

Apologies for absence

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

 

Minutes:

Councillor Gareth Streeter gave his apologies, Councillor Andy Stranack was in attendance in his absence.

 

Councillor Sue Bennett gave her apologies, Councillor Margaret Bird was in attendance in her absence.

 

13/19

Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 21 January 2020 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 January 2020 were approved as an accurate record.

 

14/19

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.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

15/19

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.

Minutes:

There was none.

16/19

Action list update

Discussion on the actions arising from previous meetings.

Minutes:

The Sub-Committee reviewed the action list which was now up to date with a large percentage of the actions completed and those outstanding with an expected date of completion.

 

The recent trip to the CALAT centre in Thornton Heath was successful, giving Members the opportunity to meet and interact with the students. In particular the working relationship between staff and students was praised.

 

Members welcomed opportunities like this to get out into the community to interact with services and service users, and would welcome future such sessions.

 

The Chair informed the Sub-Committee that a specialist social worker from the National Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) centre would attend a future meeting to raise Member’s awareness of the issue and of Croydon’s work in this area.

 

17/19

Children's Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To receive an update on the Children’s Improvement Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Children Families and Education provided an update on the Improvement Journey during which it was noted that the department had recently undergone a three week Ofsted inspection which ended on 14 February 2020. The full report and rating was due to be published on 16 March 2020.

 

The draft letter had been received and as a result of the recommendations from the inspection, which will be shared at the next meeting of the Sub-Committee, the improvement plan would be updated.

 

Steady progress was still being made in all areas of the service although there were still areas that required further improvement. This was reflected in the recommendations made by Ofsted following their inspection.

 

The Chair thanked officers for their attendance and looked forward to receiving the revised improvement plan at the next meeting.

 

The Sub-Committee came to the following Conclusion:

 

·         The Sub-Committee looked forward to notification of the outcome of the Ofsted inspection and the revised improvement plan in response to OFSTED recommendations.

 

18/19

Children's Looked After Pledge and Care Leavers Local Offer pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To review Croydon’s proposals to strengthen its corporate parenting role through its commitment to children in care and its refreshed local offer for care leavers.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Children Families and Education presented the report, during which the following was noted:

 

·         The Pledge was an overall commitment to Croydon’s children in care and leaving care population, which set out what the Council and its Partners had agreed to provide.

·         There had been a Local Offer in place in the past which was criticised as being vague and inconsistent in its application.

·         The proposed Pledge and Offer was still in the initial stages of development with further work needed before it launched including a greater analysis of the financial implications.

·         In drawing up the draft pledge, the department worked with Empire (Children in Care Council) as well as the Leaving Care Forum to gain insight on their historical experiences.

 

The Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.

 

Concerns were raised that the pledge gave the impression that young people would be given anything they asked for and that some of the wording used may be misleading or interpreted in the wrong way. Officers highlighted that this Pledge was about rights and responsibilities, with social workers tasked with undertaking assessments and negotiating on an individual basis to reach an agreement with the young person on what was available and right for them. There would be an ongoing assessment process in place. The Commitments in the Pledge were intended to be broad to assist in identifying young people’s needs. Officers appreciated the feedback and comments and agreed to reflect on the broadness of the language used.

 

A Member suggested that additional thought should be given to how the Council could ensure that life events of its care leavers were celebrated. Officers agreed that this was an area of priority and as such had initiated a weekly open house dinner at the Turnaround Centre to enable young people to socialise. The cafeteria at BWH had also been booked for a Christmas dinner for this year.

 

In response to a question about the extent to which Children’s Services encouraged care leavers to maintain links, officers confirmed that care leavers were encouraged to maintain contact with their foster carers. Some opted to use the ‘staying put’ option and remained with the foster carers at a reduced rate until they were ready to live independently.

 

In response to a question about the affordability of care packages, it was highlighted that some things were currently being funded with extensive work due to be carried out with the finance department on the budget prior to the presentation of the paper to Cabinet.

 

To follow up it was asked if the amount allocated in the budget was likely to increase and whether the service could be deliverable within budget. It was advised that a contingency would be put in place to allow for overspend until the average spend could be realised over a number of years.

 

At the conclusion of this item the Chair thanked Officers for their attendance at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/19

19/19

Question Time: Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning pdf icon PDF 448 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Children Young People and Learning, Councillor Alisa Flemming gave a presentation, during which the following points

were noted:

 

·         The consultation period for the Children and Young People Plan was coming to an end, the vision had been updated and once finding were formalised the final details would be disseminated

 

·         There was still much to do to ensure there was a balance in the amount of cases held by social workers.

 

·         A new Virtual Head had recently been appointed which had given pace to the service, resulting in a positive impact for both the service and children served.

 

·         There was an open invitation for young people to attend the Corporate Parenting Panel to put their views across, allowing their voices to be heard directly.

 

·         There remained challenges in the leaving care service in ensuring good access to support for young people, adequate preparation for them in leaving the care system as well as improved housing and gateway service.

 

·         Further work was needed to address recruitment issues. Currently 61% of staff were permanent employees with a lot of work invested in improving this area.

 

·         The service continued its pilot of whole family partnership which put families at the centre of decision making and looked to address the complex needs of both young people as well as the adults in a family unit.

 

·         There were challenges in DSG and High Needs Block and although there has been investment from the Government it was not rising at the same pace as the level of need.

 

·         The Legacy Youth Centre had been successful with a good uptake in the number of young people attending. All LAC children were able to access the centre as their membership had been paid for. The Ofsted inspectors visited the facility and had spoken to young cared for children in attendance.

 

Following the presentation the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member on the content of the report and the information provided during the presentation.

 

Concern was raised over the statistics for off-rolling and exclusions, and the level of support being offered by the Council to support families. In response it was advised that there were link officers in place who worked directly with schools to improve standards in accordance with attainment targets and also to support children by helping to keep them in mainstream education.

 

The stability of the workforce through the increasing number of permanent staff recruited to the service was commended.

 

A Member raised concern about the measures used for missing LAC children. It was questioned how improvements could be realised with the number of children going missing and improving RHI figures which remained consistently low. The Cabinet Member advised that this was an issue of national focus with more work to be done to address the issues concerned. There was complexity around why young people go missing and where they went. Regular multiagency panel meetings took place with the Police and Health Service. RHI offer was over 90% but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19/19

20/19

What difference has this meeting made to Croydon's children

To discuss the findings from this meeting and the expectations for

Croydon’s Children.

Minutes:

At the conclusion of discussions, the following points were made:

 

·         Further discussion was needed on how to ensure that the correct bodies were brought before the Sub-Committee to be held to account.

 

·         The opportunity to challenge the Local Offer and Children’s Pledge whist providing suggestions on improvements and in early development stage was beneficial.

 

·         That officers were reminded of the ongoing work that was needed to increase their efforts on the recruitment and retention of good quality staff.

 

21/19

Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 36 KB

To note the work programme for the remainder of 2019/20 Municipal Year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed the three items on the agenda for the 14 April 2020 meeting of the sub-committee as stated on the work programme was:

·        Children’s Improvement Plan Update

·        Workforce and Financial Sustainability- Long Term

·        Safeguarding Themes: Neglect, Vulnerable Adolescents & Children with Disabilities

It was agreed that an informal session would be arranged to discuss work programming for 2020/21 cycle of meeting

The Chair of the Task and Finish Group, Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick asked it be noted that the group had reduced from five to four members.