Agenda and minutes

Corporate Parenting Panel
Wednesday, 21st November, 2018 5.00 pm

Venue: F10, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

36/17

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 5 September 2018 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 5 September 2018 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

37/17

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 disclosed that he was a member of the Adoption Panel.

 

38/17

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 were none.

39/17

Update on actions agreed at previous meeting(s)

To update the Panel on any agreed actions from the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were none.

40/17

Engagement and Achievement (Inc. Complaints and Learning Opportunities) pdf icon PDF 64 KB

[To Follow]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the Children in Care Council (CICC) attended the Panel meeting to discuss complaints and achievements.

 

F said that there were a number of Looked After Children (LAC) in Croydon who made complaints.

 

JB said that Looked After Children felt their thoughts weren’t cared about. They felt that training and support for managers around communication would be good and that foster carers should communicate more with social workers. It was also reported that young people do not understand the stages of a complaint and requested the Panel visit them at the CICC.

 

Officers noted that as part of the Improvement Plan they would look further at how the service could improve communication with service users. It was acknowledged that there needs to be more work done to develop communications with young people.

 

Some Panel Co-optees shared that as foster carers, they would find themselves in situations similar to young people.

 

Officers from the Youth Engagement Team who were present (accompanying young children from the CICC), shared with the Panel that young people often believed that adults made complaints on their behalf.

 

The young people were confident in knowing how to make a complaint by talking to someone at school.

 

The Looked After Children Service supported children of different abilities and vulnerabilities. However not all young people in care would have the general awareness of how to make a complaint. Officers clarified that it is part of the Independent Reviewing Officer role to ask young people at their first review if they are clear how to make a complaint.

 

The Panel learned that many of the complaints received were from adults on behalf of the young person. For example, these adults include foster carers, advocates, parents, or from schools.

 

Some Panel Co-optees shared that foster carers can feel disconnected from the child. This can be a major part of the communication barrier. They also shared that it was not good to rely on the designated person at school.

 

Officers identified the stages of a complaint:

(i).     Stage one: All complaints would be sent to the service manager;

(ii).    Stage two: Further response would be via an independent officer if the outcome is not satisfactory;

(iii).   Stage three: There would be an independent review outside the local authority with a panel of people reviewing the complaint.

 

The Panel learned that when a young person was under local authority care a range of information would be provided. A ‘welcome to care pack’ is given. This includes how to make a complaint, information on the complaint process in addition to what it will be like residing with a foster carer.

 

Members of the Panel discussed that the young person should be at the heart of every complaint. Therefore it should be clear to every young person how to make a complaint and that this will be considered seriously.

 

Members of the Panel discussed the Star Award Ceremony. This is an event where children in care and care leavers’ achievements are celebrated.. This was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40/17

41/17

Children in Care Performance Scorecard and Children Missing from Care pdf icon PDF 349 KB

The Children in Care Performance Scorecard of September 2018 is attached.

Minutes:

Children in Care Performance Scorecard and Children Missing from Care

The Interim Director, Early Help and Children’s Social Care, and the Head of Service for Corporate Parenting shared with the Panel the children in care performance scorecard.

 

Officers highlighted that there was a lot of work undertaken in September 2019. Areas where the service had done well and those requiring further improvement were noted. The good performance on placement stability was noted. The key area where improvement had been achieved was in LAC reviews. These have to be conducted within twenty-eight days of care beginning, and then every three-months thereafter.

 

Officers advised that there was difficulty in health and education.  Performance on initial and review health assessments was noted as improving; additional nursing resource has been provided to carryout reviews. However, there continued to be challenges with initial health assessments as these require doctor. It was the duty on the social work team to notify the health team of the need to conduct a health assessment.

 

Panel Co-optees who are foster carers shared that there was a definite improvement in this service as there were regular calls from nurses within a week or two of placement for arrangements to be made to complete a health assessment. Assessments are also taking place on Saturdays.

 

Officers noted that more work is happening to ensure that all children and young people have a Personal Education Plan (PEP) in place. This is being aided by a review of the processes being overseen by the Children’s Improvement Board and better communication between teams. This had been a positive outcome which started at the beginning of the academic year.

 

Members of the Panel were concerned with the amount of time being taken to complete PEPs. Panel Co-optees sought to clarify the details of all the parties involved in PEP production. They were advised that the social worker, school designated officer, foster carer and the child should be in attendance at a PEP meeting and a senior leader of the Virtual School could attend upon request. This is the participation required to develop a PEP as set out in regulation.

 

Ofsted had seen the scorecard. Feedback from Ofsted was that it needed to be revised. The Children’s Improvement Board had determined that the scorecard process will be reviewed by senior leadership with a focus on ensuring the correct allocation of resources.

 

Members of the Panel discussed the necessity of having legal parental consent in place for children in care to have a health assessment.

 

In response to the questions raised by Members of the Panel on the quality assurance of electronic PEPs, officers shared that a quality assurance officer was employed and all Virtual School officers were qualified teachers. Additionally, the Panel learned that there were a lot of PEPs being produced at the same time. Officers highlighted that quality assurance of PEPs is a focus given its role in raising standards. This is therefore subject to ongoing work.

 

 

Cllr Flemming arrived at the meeting at 6:09pm  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41/17

42/17

Care Leavers' Local Offer Summary pdf icon PDF 66 KB

The summary of the Care Leavers Offer is attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Care Leavers' Local Offer Summary

The Head of Service for Corporate Parenting introduced the item. The Panel had previously reviewed the care leavers’ local offer summary and had determined it was too long. Officers presented a summary of the local offer which had been produced and was available on the Care Leavers smart-phone App, launched in October 2018.

 

Officers shared that the care leavers’ local offer was sent to existing care leavers and there was also a simplified version available. Officers had also provided a clearer, simple version, for young people with learning disabilities. The Care Leaver App, Croydon Care Leaver Connect, included a summary of the local offer.

 

The Chair thanked the officers involved in the Care Leavers’ local offer. It was highlighted that during a recent Children and Adult Care conference in Manchester, the Croydon Care Leavers’ local offer was presented to all local authorities as an example of good practice.

 

Panel Members commended the good work. It was highlighted that work was going in the right direction with more work still to do. Officers were also praised for condensing the leaflet to a page. Some Panel Members suggested the leaflet was not sufficiently readable for an average aged child and requested this be revised.

 

Officers informed the Panel that the service had presented the App to the CICC with members happy with the information provided and how this was presented.

 

The Chair commented that ultimately the service was about delivering the best offer possible for young people and that this document would evolve and change. Members of the Panel were in consensus in supporting the aspiration to improve the performance of corporate parenting.

 

Action: Officers to revise the Care Leavers’ local offer and bring the document to the Panel meeting in March 2019.

 

43/17

Annual Report of Adoption Service and Panel (Inc. plans and updates of regional adoption agency) pdf icon PDF 57 KB

The annual report of the performance and developments in the delivery of the Croydon adoption service.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Annual Report of Adoption Service and Panel (including plans and updates on the Regional Adoption Agency)

Officers shared with the Panel that Croydon will be part of the South London Regional Adoption Agency. The report shared details of the adoption service and the number of statutory services.

 

The Panel learned that Croydon Children’ Services had placed fewer children for adoption this year compared to last year. Officers informed the Panel that the service had an improvement plan in place to encourage a higher level of adoptions.

 

Officers shared that the service had also recognised the number of children identified for adoption who as yet had not achieved an end destination.

 

Members of the Panel discussed children who were the subject of a placement order and questioned whether there had been a change in the average age of children on a placement order. Officers clarified that most children placed for adoption were under the age of five, (there had been a small number of children placed for adoption who were over the age of five). There had been no been statutory change in the adoption process and the service had seen younger children adopted.

 

Further questions from Members of the Panel included whether there was any change in the likelihood of adoption of difficult to place children and whether the service had more adopters for children who have been born to specific backgrounds and needs. Officers shared that there was still a higher proportion of white children placed for adoption. The adoption team was looking at the needs of each individual child and how these can be met through adoption.

 

Officers highlighted that any disruption in a placement was examined through a statutory procedure. This included looking at whether the service could have foreseen and prevented the disruption within a placement.

 

Officers noted the benefits of being part of the Regional Adoption Agency. For example, children with cultural and special needs were more likely to be supported through a larger service with more diverse carer recruitment. It was hoped that being able to better support the needs of individual children through a larger service would improve placement stability. Croydon’s Children’s Services would remain the corporate parent.

 

The rate of adoption for newborns being taken into care was increasing. It was hoped this would drive an upturn in Croydon’s rate of adoption which remains low in comparison to the size of the borough.

 

Action: For the Panel to receive figures of children adopted in Croydon.

 

44/17

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.

Minutes:

The Panel highlighted the following accomplishments which helped Children in Care (each Panel member was asked in turn to comment):

 

  • The performance scorecard - it was very positive to have the involvement of the two young people in discussion of this item.
  • The issues raised about indicators during the discussion had been recorded in the minutes and would be reviewed by the Panel at future meetings.
  • The Panel will continue to receive information on the local offer summary and be able to comment on and improve the accessibility of this for young people.
  • The Panel valued hearing directly from young people in care and their suggestions of improvements that can be made. For example, ensuring young people know how to make a complaint.
  • The contribution of the young people present at the meeting showed it was right to have representatives of the CICC involved. Keen to focus on Personal Education Plans and how all the parties involved in their production can work as an effective team.
  • There is the opportunity here to really achieve change. The local offer summary has to be accessible to all children, recognising the range of needs.
  • Good to have young people and foster carers here.  Good to hear what happens in foster homes and what the children feel.
  • Foster carers’ presence. Our commitment to making sure that we have clear actions that we review them so we know where we are in the improvement journey and how we are supporting young people. The commitment in the room means that when we are challenging it is understood that this is intended to help make things better.
  • This year this panel had made a change in foster care.   Officers are able to understand why we are asking questions. We are supported to ask questions.
  • Hearing positive things from foster carers. There are a number of things that still need work. Positivity from foster carers is good, as foster carers are a tough audience. This is to be celebrated as it makes a difference to children as they spend all day with children and they are always child centred. We have had good attendance from the Children in Care Council; they are feeding backing what children are telling them to tell us. This is a step in the right direction. For example, talking about the complaints procedure. This has made a difference.
  • Great to see young people working on the pledge and we have a core offer for LAC. Needed to do the same for the pledge – having young people leading on this is good. Having foster carers present was also good. But we also have LAC who do not know how to make a complaint and an IRO who does not know how to talk to young people.
  • We know our strengths and weakness as a result of the scorecard. Impressed with the clarity of the complaints procedure. Valued hearing from foster carers.
  • We had discussed the reduction of the text for the core offer but  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44/17

45/17

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 53 KB

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

Minutes:

The Work Programme was considered. The Chair highlighted that the agenda items should be adhered to as detailed in the work programme. The Panel should make a commitment that items would not be moved.

 

46/17

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.