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To approve the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5 September 2019 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 5 September 2019 were agreed as an accurate record.
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 no disclosures of interests.
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 was no urgent business.
Update on actions agreed at previous meeting(s)
At the last Corporate Parenting Panel, Members requested an action log for issues raised be kept as record.
There were a number of actions raised from the previous meeting and officers updated the Panel with the status of the actions. These included:
1 – Following up on the complaints made by a young person in foster care placement. This issue had been addressed by the team and with the young person. The service manager had an oversight of the YP and their care plan, and further follow-ups had been put in place.
2 – A consultation document for the young people. A Pathway Plan template had been put to the young people for consultation. As a result, a focus group consultation had taken place.
3 – A breakdown report of staff turnover in fostering service. This had been submitted and had shown that the turnover had been low. The information would be forwarded to everyone.
4 – An urban dictionary for social work officers. This was to be coproduced by EMPIRE. This has been followed through.
5 – Advocacy sessions with young people. Youth Services were exploring “I am Amazing” to deliver sessions to EMPIRE. This would be something the team would roll out internally with their own resources.
6 – A presentation of Virtual School to EMPIRE. Virtual School had made arrangements to meet with EMPIRE later in November 2019 to discuss the feedback received in February. Virtual School representatives would be attend EMPIRE sessions once every half term so education was embedded in the themes happening at their session.
7 – Work around the Independent Visiting Service. The Independent Visiting Service was contacted for arrangements to talk with EMPIRE and share what the service offer.
8 – Advertising EMPIRE to all Children Looked After – Following a PEP meeting, a flyer and leaflet was the chosen method to give out to foster carers and young people when meetings are taking place. This had been put in place.
17:19 – Cllr Flemming attended the meeting.
Councillor Flemming directed the remainder of the meeting as Chair.
The order of the meeting was revised to include EMPIRE.
The Children in Care Performance Scorecard of September 2019 is attached.
The Head of Social Work with Children Looked After and Care Leavers gave an update of the September month performance, which highlighted the service performance was doing well in some areas and had struggled in other areas.
Officers shared that the local authority had 548 children in care of which 290 children were looked after from unaccompanied minors from aged 16 who came from Lunar House and were cared for by another local authority.
There were more performances noted in amber than red which was good progress for the service improvement journey.
One of the red performance issues, related to having an updated care plan and pathway plan for looked after children. It was noted that a new system had been introduced for social workers to use. In addition, a new pathway plan had been more child friendly and focused to ease the problems raised. The updated pathway plan was due to be launched this November 2019.
Officers highlighted a change in targets and expectations in foster care visits, and had introduced for social workers to conduct an every 4-week visit to foster carers, with expectations to rise to 95% from 85% last year.
The Panel discussed what had been heard and questions were asked. EMPIRE noted that the percentage was low for the 17-15 aged group of children and they asked how Children Services helped children in education, not in employment and training. Officers said that collaborations with the children’s services and Virtual School were in process of setting up a NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) Panel, to set up a multi-disciplinary panel to see what we can do in the wider council and with develops relationships to address other issues to look at real opportunity for young people. The idea had come from the model used in the Camden borough, which was looked at as part of the improvement model for Croydon. It was noted that figures needed to improve and this was the first step to address the issues.
The Chief Executive Officer noted that some of the failures before reemployment and training were left in one department. In light of these issues, it was noted that the Council would be doing more to encourage young people in work or training by way of apprentices and other opportunities. There was an agency called Croydon Works, which had brought other opportunities and networking. Croydon Hospital and the Council looked to create better opportunities for the young person.
Other Members commented on the notable progress made within the service from the scorecard presented, though concerns were raised around continued employment for young people aged 20 who had employment for twelve months.
Officers shared that training was offered to staff for additional support in their workforce and further took on board comments highlighted by the Panel to enhance the service.
The Panel discussed the issue of the consistency in visits and how it was monitored. Co-optee Members highlighted the pressures social workers had in trying to fit ... view the full minutes text for item 49/19
An update of the annual report of Virtual School as requested by the Panel on 5 September.
The Head of Virtual School introduced the updated report, which was a request of the Panel to return from the last meeting in September 2019.
Inside the report there was additional information to answer questions around looked after children and supporting them to get to university.
The report also highlighted the raw data of children in Key Stage 5, aged 17 and 18, who had taken A-levels (or equivalent) and would take other courses before they went to university. The Panel heard that personal advisors had been available to help advocate for young people and some universities were also helpful in providing support.
The report also showed that seventeen reception children required a huge amount of support in reading and writing, though the percentage was low, the service would want to do more.
Officers shared that there was a special phase for education to work with young people to close gaps in numbers, alongside working with foster carers. There were some people within that group not captured due to adoption. The Chief Executive Officer commented on the types of interventions addressed to bridge the gap. Officers said that the schools were working closely with foster carers and there was also training for carers for “play” at home and what could be offered through growth and play. The whole package included language skills and vocabulary.
The Chair commented on the pathway plans highlighting that a good development level for children starting primary school would prepare them for secondary school. Noting that there were challenges for the young person in taking their GCSEs at a later stage, it was important to understand how the service supported children so the gap did not increase year on year. Whilst a structured plan was really important, the model was utilised for the right cases. Officers encouraged for children to be taught reading at home the same way they are taught in school to help uniform the structure.
EMPIRE made reference to the support professionals would provide children going through stress, anxiety or depression in the long term future. Officers informed the Panel that the service worked with all the professionals working with children, providing training to understand awareness and better relate to children who suffered and would require support. Co-optee Members noted the encouraging change Virtual School had put in place, and commented on the provisions to unaccompanied asylum seeking children that there were professional services such as Off The Record for counselling, which was deemed positive.
ACTION – CEO to work with Director of Early Help and Children's Social Care to look at how the service and the Council (as an organisation) could create opportunities to children.
ACTION – CEO to work with the Director of Human Resources to raise the role of volunteering within the Council to support the Looked After Children Service (assisting young children in reading etc).
The Panel discussed the issue around the threshold for CAMHS, and noted that there was a push back to the role of ... view the full minutes text for item 50/19
An update on health commissioning arrangements, service delivery and performance for children looked after including: Initial Health Assessment Performance, Review Health Assessment Performance and Children Looked After emotional wellbeing and mental health services.
Officers introduced the report informing on the performance of the initial health assessments for all young people in care who were seen by a care professional or a LAC (Looked After Child) Medical.
Questions from EMPIRE included how the NHS kept a track on the mental health of the young children, how long the information was stored for and the confidentiality of data. Officers informed the Panel that there was ongoing work around monitoring health needs and reviewing individual data. A spreadsheet was used to capture data for officers to have a better picture of what was being recorded. Officers confirmed that the information stored was for up to ten years due to the request of information that may be required within the decade to provide answers to the individual or involved services. With regards to confidentiality, officers advised that consent was often granted before staff completed a medical, the staff would explain the routine process and who would be in the know of their medical information to the young person before they are to sign any form. It was said that usually the social worker, the school nurse and the GP were kept aware of the health of their young person, though if the young person did not want their medical notes to be shared this was to be acknowledged.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) was interested to understand what the reasons were for young people declining health medicals and issues around health assessments, why there was a dip in completing health assessments and what the service was doing. Officers informed that they were working very closely with Children’s Services for better communication between the systems for referrals to be received on time. Officers informed the Panel that there was difficulty in completing health assessments if the referral was not received within the timescales.
A delay to the receipt of a referral would often include incorrect information of the young person’s foster carer to book appointments. Officers added that there was a high rate of children who do not attend scheduled appointments, which meant having to reschedule.
Officers highlighted that the health team was aware of the difficulty in timescales and were reviewing standards to improve the service. The health service was further reviewing their assessments and were at a point where they were sharing information twelve weeks in advance. The service had put a lot of intensity into one area as other areas were often missed, and needed to understand why it was not happening from a themed perspective.
The CEO, on reviewing an action plan, asked as part of the action plan whether there were key actions to dealing with the backlog and work for the ones backlogged, and further asked whether there were capacity issues. Officers addressed the queries by stating that they were putting in plans and through their data were looking at how far behind they were, and the approach to work on clearing the backlog without creating another backlog. The service were also ... view the full minutes text for item 51/19
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.
The Panel highlighted the accomplishments and discussed changes to help Children in Care.
A big thank you was awarded to EMPIRE for their suggestion made at the meeting which was powerful and clear.
To consider and approve the Panel’s work programme for the municipal year 2018/19.
The work programme was received for information.
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.”