Agenda and minutes

Corporate Parenting Panel
Thursday, 19th July, 2018 5.00 pm

Venue: F4, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Michelle Gerning
020 8726 6000 x84246  Email: michelle.gerning@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

15/17

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 22 March 2018 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 22 March 2018 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

16/17

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:

Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick declared a non-pecuniary interest as a member of the Fostering Panel.

 

17/17

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.

18/17

The Role of Panel Members & Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 60 KB

The Role of Panel Members & Terms of Reference is attached.

Minutes:

The Panel were presented with a report which updated their Terms of Reference to take into account new standards and expectations for Corporate Parenting set out in the Children and Social Work Act 2017. 

 

Work resulting from the Act would include the production of a leaflet for Care Leavers setting out a comprehensive guide to the local offer. It was noted that a draft version of the leaflet would be presented at the next meeting of the Panel in September. The Act also extended the Council’s responsibility to provide support for young people from 21 years old up to 25.

 

Given the introduction of a new Act and that there were a number of new Members on the Panel it was agreed that it would be useful to provide training to bring all Panel Members up to speed. It was also agreed that it would be very useful to hold a workshop to discuss the best way forward in delivering all of the work streams arising from the Act.

 

Action: To set up a Workshop to discuss how the work streams arising from the Children and Social Work Act 2017 will be implemented

 

Action: To organise Corporate Parenting training for Panel Members.

19/17

Review of the Council's Staying Put Policy - Proposal pdf icon PDF 236 KB

The report of the review of the Staying Put arrangements is attached.

Minutes:

The Panel were advised that the Staying Put Policy had been raised as a key issue by Young Voice, who felt that it should be reviewed to consider how it could be made it easier for young people to remain in their foster care setting after turning 18. As a result the Plan had been revised and a new version was presented to the Panel for its input. Although the changes to the Policy were generally welcomed and seen as a positive step towards tackling the concerns raised with the previous policy, there were a number of issued raised by the Panel that needed to be given further consideration.

 

The Panel discussed how the Policy would impact those choosing to stay put, while in employment over 16 hours a week as in that instance the fee received by the foster carer would significantly decrease. It was agreed that it was important not to provide a disincentive to young people seeking employment or for foster carers encouraging them from doing so, as such it was agreed that this provision needed further consideration. 

 

Various options to address this concern were discussed and while it was acknowledged that there may be an expectation for a young person in employment to contribute to the household, it was not a given. Although there were reservations from some members of the Panel about quantifying the amount a young person should contribute to their household, it was agreed that a three tier system of suggested contributions based on the young person’s level of income should be developed. As the scheme needed to be modelled to ensure its viability, it was agreed that further information would be provided at the next meeting of the Panel.

 

It was noted that foster carers living in the borough did not have to pay Council Tax and as such it was questioned how this could be applied to those living in other areas. It was agreed that further consideration would be given to how foster carers living outside of the Borough could be supported with the cost of Council Tax.

 

Concern was raised about the language used at review meetings for children and young people as it was felt that by placing the focus on preparing the individual for leaving care, it may lead them to conclude that there were no other options.  Although it was acknowledged that there would be circumstances where the foster carer did not want the young person to stay meaning that preparing for this eventuality was essential, in other instances discussions should remain open to other options including staying put beyond 18 and the possibility of going to university.

 

Action – To given consideration to how carers living outside of the borough can be supported with the cost of Council Tax.

 

Action – To model an optional scheme of contributions based on the income levels of the young person.

20/17

Children and Social Work Act 2017 pdf icon PDF 84 KB

The report includes the seven corporate parenting principles.

21/17

Review of Fostering Services pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The report serves to update the progress being made to improve the Local Authority Fostering Service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In 2017 there had been a review of Croydon’s Fostering Service which had presented its findings in a Single Inspection Framework report. The recommendations outlined in the report had been reviewed and put into an action plan which have subsequently been progressed. In March 2018, the organisation, Achieving for Children, was commissioned to undertake a second review to understand the progress made against the action plan.

 

Outcomes from the review had been split into two categories, namely areas that were working well and others where further progress was required.  The areas in which good progress had been made included the focus within the service on positive outcomes, good multi agency support and an improved relationship between the fostering and looked after teams. The main concerns raised related to areas of work where actions were still being progressed and included early permanence moving forward and inconsistencies over management oversight. As a result of this review a revamped action plan was now presented to the Panel for its comments.

 

In response to a question about the speed of payment to Foster Carers, one of the Foster Carer representatives on the Panel advised that in their experience Croydon had always been very good with weekly payments and although it was sometimes slower with one off purchases, it was generally considered to be good.

 

It was also questioned whether the number of agency social workers had increased or decreased? It was confirmed that there was still a significant work force issue, with a 40% vacancy level requiring the continued use of a substantial amount of agency staff. In particular there was considerable level of staff turnover in the Assessment and Care Planning Teams, but elsewhere in the Permanence team the staff levels were more stable.

 

The Panel discussed the application process for prospective foster carers, as it was noted that there was dissatisfaction with the number of foster carers coming through the assessment and the quality of the assessment process. It was confirmed that the Council had a three year contract with NRS to deliver this service, which was now coming to an end and it should be acknowledged that during the length of the contract the quality of assessments had improved. As part of the retendering process for the contract the Council was looking to procure a two year contract with a provider who would be willing to work towards the Council’s long term goal of bring the service back in house.

 

In a discussion about staff morale within the fostering team, it was agreed that the significant reduction in sickness could be taken as an indicator that morale had improved.  Furthermore, in both of the reviews conducted in the past year, staff had been happy to participate in the process and had volunteered themselves to be interviewed. The management oversight within Fostering Service was felt to be robust, with further work under way to address identified inconsistencies across the team management.

 

In response to a concern raised about the support available  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/17

22/17

How has the Panel helped Children in Care today?

For the panel to consider how its work at the meeting will improve services for children in care.

23/17

Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To consider and approve the Panel’s work programme for the municipal year 2018/19.

Minutes:

The Panel reviewed its work programme setting out the items to be considered at each of the meetings remaining in 2018/19. It was noted that there was flexibility to amend the work programme as required should new items be identified, such as the Annual Independent Reviewing Officer report which would be presented at the next meeting in September.

24/17

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

Minutes:

Not required.