Agenda and minutes

[Moved from 11 Nov], Corporate Parenting Panel - Tuesday, 24th November, 2020 5.00 pm

Venue: This meeting is held virtually.

Contact: Michelle Ossei-Gerning
020 8726 6000 x84246  Email:

No. Item


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 was none.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 115 KB

To consider and approve the Panel’s work programme for the municipal year 2020/21.


Members of the Panel reviewed the work programme of the 2020-21 municipal year.


The Chair clarified that the upcoming Panel meeting in December was scheduled in place of the cancelled meeting in July due to the pandemic and national lockdown before there was a required legislation in place for meetings to take place virtually. The topic to that meeting would be on sufficiency.


As Members reviewed the work programme for the remainder of the year, the Chair proposed for all reports going forward to address financial aspects to the titled report. Councillor Maria Gatland proposed for a report on missing children to be brought forward to Panel. This was agreed by the Chair, and requested that this be heard in January or March in line with the Children’s Improvement Board for up-to-date data.


Councillor Jerry Fitzpatrick proposed to hear a report in respect to the implications for corporate parenting of the aspects of the renewal plan. This was to also include alongside the financial issues, and representation from children and carers. The Chair agreed to have a detailed report of this to the Panel meeting in January.


The Panel RESOLVED to agree the work programme for the next Panel meeting and future meetings.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 252 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 29 September 2020 as an accurate record.


The minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 29 September 2020 were agreed as an accurate record with the inclusion of:


-        Comments raised by Councillor Bernadette Khan in respect of the serious case reviews, and the request for the Panel to hold a thorough discussion about what was happening with serious case reviews and its practice.




Update on actions agreed at previous meeting(s)


Officers updated the Panel with the status of the actions agreed at the previous Panel meeting.


In regards to the action in September 2020:


1 - To update the Panel with data relating to support given to young people in universities.


There was support in line with the Local Offer. Young people at university would have:

  • Personal Adviser or Social Worker
  • Pathway Plan
  • General advice and assistance
  • Visit once every two months
  • The opportunity to reach out to Personal Adviser to seek support
  • Vacation Accommodation - If a young person was at university and accommodation was not for 365 days a year, then they were entitled to services support. Alternatively, if the young person found somewhere for the holiday then the young person could be given up to £400.00 per month as a contribution towards rent. Other care leavers may be able to make arrangements with family members or friends and would not need support.
  • Higher Education Bursary (HEB) of £2,000.00, usually paid in instalments of £666.67 over the three academic years of university
  • Support to make an application to Student Finance England for tuition and maintenance loans.
  • A Graduation Fund of £1000 towards the cost of gown hire, graduation photos, mortar, and so forth when graduating from university.


The support provided to young people at university was very much the support provided to young people who leave care to reside within the community.



Update from EMPIRE and Foster Carers




The Panel learned that EMPIRE received a personal achievement by being shortlisted for the Children and Young People’s Services Awards as the 2020 finalists. This was a very big achievement for EMPIRE who were proud about their journey. The Chair acknowledged the fantastic work from EMPIRE, which was a testament to their work and involvement at the Corporate Parenting Panel.





The Chair of Foster Carers provided an update to report how foster carers managed during the pandemic and national lockdown. The Panel heard that since the pandemic and national lockdown, foster carers had experienced difficulty in maintaining the upkeep on the looked after children’s education.

On behalf of the foster carers, they commended the support from Virtual School with providing laptops and ensuring that every child was able to access work online. It was acknowledged that some vulnerable children could not attend school which affected their mental health as well as other matters.

Foster carers had described the challenging time for them and the foster children, as visits from social workers had stopped.


Further light was shared on the notion that foster carers became teachers overnight as a result of this, and supporting children looked after with schoolwork, homework, virtual lessons, teaching various subjects in order to assist and encourage the children and other requests made by social workers and schools on a daily basis.


It was said that the excellent school report by Virtual School was due to the commitment and dedication made by foster carers.


Foster carers also highlighted during annual reviews that there was often negative and unhelpful comments left unchallenged by managers.


Foster carers also shared that there was growth in positive relationships between foster carers and looked after children during the pandemic and national lockdown.


Officers in response have commended the hard work by foster carers during the pandemic and national lockdown to support looked after children by focusing on education and the balancing with other talents that young people were engaged in. Additionally, officers acknowledged the complaints made by foster carers and had requested to look into the matter further.


The Chair had requested for examples of the kind of the learning from the first national lockdown versus the second national lockdown to review the support carers had, particularly around the element of being a teacher, and to know what the service was doing to support carers in the most difficult tasks in teaching children.


A Member of EMPIRE empathised with the foster carer’s role in supporting children, and having a relationship with their foster child and the service, and shared their personal experience in living in foster care. The young person further highlighted that children would make mistakes and would have to learn from their mistakes to minimise rebellion. Another Member of EMPIRE shared that the routine in the household had disrupted, which made things difficult during the national lockdown.


A Member of the Panel acknowledged the feelings expressed by foster carers and enquired of a possible change in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42/20


Engagement, Achievement and Complaints Report pdf icon PDF 143 KB

The report of engagement, achievement and complaints is attached.


Officers spoke to the report of engagement, achievement and complaints.

In summary, EMPIRE had offered seventy-two online activity sessions during the summer months in the pandemic and national lockdown, which was a great achievement. There had been 300 virtual sessions since the national lockdown had started.


A Member of EMPIRE shared that EMPIRE had done a lot for the young people as the word has been out and more people had been able to attend, for more work EMPIRE could do. It was also good to have online groups and people to talk to as it was a difficult time during lockdown.


Another Member of EMPIRE shared that they had been with EMPIRE since 13 years old and was now 16 years old, and EMPIRE provided a lot for young people, they also helped with their mental wellbeing. They shared that staff would go out of their way to support and advice any query given, and through this the young person’s confidence had grown and they had met lots of friends.


In review of complaints, officers informed that young people (and others) would represent their views, and learned that the majority of the complaints were in regards to housing and also communication with personal advisors and social workers. The complaints had helped better the housing and accommodation options for young care leavers. Staff was also working closely with other services to be able to deal with complaints before they become complaints and the response had improved.


With reference to the opportunities for care leavers, the number of young people in education, training and employment had remained at 62% which was not good enough as officers had greater aspirations for the children in Croydon. Officers further informed that the new local offer was scheduled to be published. The local officer provided opportunities and apprentices for young people.


The Panel was introduced by the Young Director, Deputy Young Director and the Youth Work Apprentice who addressed their roles and highlighted that the voices young people would be embedded into any policy development within social care education, care leavers in poverty and other areas.


Panel Members discussed the reports and queried on the complaints. They enquired the fifty-four number of complaints received and how many had satisfactory received a good result for the foster carer or young person at the end of the process. Additionally, whether Legacy played a role in support to young people during the pandemic and national lockdown. Officers informed that specific complaints have been reviewed. There were very few complaints by foster carers, the majority were from care leavers. Very few complaints was in stage 2, which would resolve the matter to satisfactory. They added that most complaints were around financial savings to when they were in foster care, though a lot of the past issues were being resolved. Officers further advised that they were reviewing ways to improve the immediate communications and how the service could resolve matters at an earliest opportunity to improve practise and deal with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43/20


Exam Results, Exclusion and SEN pdf icon PDF 344 KB

The exam results, exclusion and SEN report is attached.


Officers spoke to the report, and in summary shared with the Panel the experiences young people had during the pandemic and national lockdown, which provided both challenging and positive recognition. Virtual School did very well to support children at home and to ensure every child had a personal advisor during the time.


Virtual School was ranked second nationally in the progress for Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 (KS4).  The KS4 outcome was similar to last year, though results were still pending. There was detailed information within the report on children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) in KS4. Officers shared that this new cohort secured education, health and care plans for three students and as a result the Virtual School intervened and worked closely with the SEND service to ensure the right support was provided. Virtual School had also provided support to families, children and to schools in order to support young people.


The Panel Co-optee foster carer representative commented on the fixed term exclusions and noted that with the data provided had no comparisons to national exams and exclusions. Officers informed that the service did not often receive national comparisons from others. The information provided was only from Croydon internal data.


Panel Members shared concerns for the 8% of children that had achieved five GCESs including English and maths, which was seen a very low number, though advised that the data was good. Officers informed that the figures were low nationally as it was 7%, however, though Croydon’s children were a percentage above, it was recognised that this was a continued area of focus and improvement around KS4 achievements. Upon reviewing the cohort of children: a percentage were unaccompanied asylum seeing children who did not take the exams, some children was not part of the cohort that counted against them, and some children would not necessarily take GCSEs; officers acknowledged that the children needed to do better, this included PEPs, children’s attendance and the focus on KS4 to ensure better outcomes.

Supplementary, Panel Members enquired on the numbers of local children taking exams and not taking exams. Officers shared that the detail to these statistics were included within the Virtual School Annual Report, which was published at the previous meeting, however noted that other challenges in the statistics included a late arrival into care just before taking GCSEs or A Levels, which could impact on the results and the context behind the data to what was reviewed.


The Chair informed that there were aspirations from Panel Members with how as corporate parents they could support more young people in particular with care leavers into further education, and thus was useful to have data on whether the gap was widening or closing on young people who move on to college and further education.


Panel Members further commented on the excellent dashboard to social care issues, but queried in relation to educational issues, and officers informed that there was an education database that specifically observed looked after  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44/20


Children In Care Performance Scorecard pdf icon PDF 619 KB

The Children in Care Performance Scorecard for September 2020 is attached.


Officers briefly shared that the performance was lower, though improving.


Initial Health Assessment and Review Health Assessment Report pdf icon PDF 305 KB

The initial health and review health report is attached.


Officers spoke to the report of the health assessments and in summary informed the Panel that the initial health assessments was arranged when a child first came into care which would need to be delivered within ten to twenty days. It was recorded that 65% of the initial health assessment was delivered within that time period. The review health assessment would be held every six months if the child was under the age of five and every year if the child was over the age of five. The performance figures had fluctuated, though between 79% and 90% of this assessment was delivered within the set turnaround time. With the process and the performance figures to date addressed in detail within the report, officers further mentioned that they were working closely with other services to deliver partnership achievements in ensuing each child was in receipt of their health assessment within good time. There was a number of improvements set in place to ensure better deliverance.


 A Member of EMPIRE raised a question of concern around the coronavirus and the use of turmeric and how this may impact the health of those within society, and acknowledged healthy way of living would help reduce hospital visits. The specialist health officer was able to advise the Panel in response that turmeric was useful for antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Being able to promote good health and well-being, the specialist officer informed that such discussion was welcomed in holistic health assessments to discuss not only good nutrition, but also exercise and maintaining healthy. With the concern around the coronavirus, the specialist officer advised that the medical experts were also new to the recent discovery of the new virus and was doing all that they could to understand its existence having conducting various research in the virus and a vaccination so correct information could be shared to the community. It was important that information provided was truthful and appropriate to reassure anxious views. The Chair added that Legacy, under the leadership of the Deputy and Young Mayor, had delivered a piece of work around the coronavirus to promote young people to eat healthy, look after their health and promote further messages received nationally and by the Director of Public Health.


Panel Members queried on why there were low numbers of health assessments completed within time (which was addressed within the performance scorecard report), noting that the percentage achieved within twenty days was variable but not near the 95% target, when there were lower entries of children entering care and a reduction in the number of children in care. Officers described the difficulty around this and highlighted a few challenges, which included young people declined or would not make appointments, or receiving a late referral for an initial health assessment from Children’s Social Care. Officers had acknowledged the factors addressed was crucial for improvement and was working hard to improve the whole pathway, which included the referral time and passing information to health colleagues to complete assessments, though it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46/20


Update on Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Offer for Children Looked After pdf icon PDF 414 KB

The emotional wellbeing and mental health offer for children looked after update report is attached.


Officers spoke to the report and in summary shared that the service’s remit was to commission health services around emotional well-being and mental health, from online support to tier two support and specialist Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) provision.


Officers shared that all referrals were received through the Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Team in children services, and there had been an increase of the referrals due to the pandemic and national lockdown. Support was provided following triage and reviewed by the CAMHS specialist who would decide where the best support could be provided to the young person or intervention for treatment. This included Off The Record, NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) who would provide support service to those sexual assaulted and abused and SLaM CAMHS services.


During the pandemic and national lockdown, the service had increased their online presence for emotional wellbeing support, The service commissioned Kooth which offered free online support including peer support, anonymous chats and young people could also talk with a psychologist. Off The record and Drop In services both offered online counselling and virtual sessions.


The service had just under £500,000 pounds invested for children’s and young people mental health across a range of different areas, this looked further into transition from children’s and adults services to key transition stages. The service invested in locality workers to have named workers within specific geographical areas in the borough; the service had also increased offer in education, health care plans and crisis care during the difficult times.


Panel Members commented on the number of referrals received and queried how many referrals became active cases in comparison to the numbers referred. Though officers did not have the detail in numbers at hand, they advised that support provided to those referred had increased as the referrals were channelled through the SPOC team, therefore even if a referral requested low level intervention, the individual would still be signposted to a service to support those needs; no referral should be rejected, unless the referral was incorrectly completed for Early Help intervention instead of a mental health specific service.  


Panel Members welcomed the additional investment and additional number of workers that had been provided, and requested further information on whether any of the additional services had specific specialism in autism and also requested information on the progress of the introduction of a new diagnostic pathway in respect of autism and neurological issues. Officers advised that there was an additional investment into neuro developmental service within CAMHS who would be supporting on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessments through the education health care plan process and an ASD assessment CAMHS. In regards to the ASD and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) pathway and review for the diagnosis and assessment, officers shared that they were at the signing off stage, and thus no decision had been made for the long term restructuring of the model. It was not known whether the progress of improvement be impeded by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47/20


Corporate Parenting Annual Report 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 592 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of the achievements, progress and challenges in meeting the needs of Croydon’s Children Looked After and Care Leavers in 2019/2020.


Officers spoke to the Corporate Parenting Panel Annual Report which included all statistical information of the children looked after care leavers and information about their health and wellbeing, education and achievement whilst in 2019 and 2020. Other significant events included: the adoption service, which had moved to the Adopt London South Service thus Croydon no longer operated as an adoptive service; staff stability; and also the successful Ofsted inspection.


The Panel welcomed the detailed report and noted that as corporate parents the Panel needed to challenge the service more and engage in a better way to reflect the report as they may be deemed passive, subsequently, the Panel noted that they involved young people to directly voice their concerns to the Corporate Parenting Panel and with their voices heard this had given the Panel the opportunity to directly challenge officers in an open and transparent form.


The Panel RESOLVED to note the report. This report was to be taken to Council in December.


At 8:01pm Councillor Shafi Khan left the meeting.


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 was asked to reflect on how they as corporate parents could challenge services and be less passive as a Panel.



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.”



This was not required.