Agenda and minutes

Corporate Parenting Committee - Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Kallum Davies, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 86 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Parenting Committeemeeting held on 6 June 2018.


The Minutes of the 6 June 2018 meeting were approved as a true and correct record.


Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no items of urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


Counsellor Worrall made a non-pecuniary declaration of interest stating that a report by the Prince’s Trust which was referred to on page 20 of the Agenda had been written by her, in her capacity as an employee of the Trust.


Councillor Liddiard made a non-pecuniary declaration of interest stating that he was a Foster Carer employed by Thurrock Council.


Children's Social Care Performance pdf icon PDF 615 KB


Before commencing the first item of business the Vice-Chair, Councillor Hamilton, expressed his dissatisfaction with the quality of the reports presented to the committee. The Councillor stated that the information presented was confusing to a layperson and that the graphs could not be easily interpreted as they had been printed in black and white. Councillor Hamilton further stated that the report alternated between the terms “Looked After Children” and “Children Looked After” as did the associated acronyms (CLA / LAC).


The Vice Chair went on to state that the use of statistical neighbours was confusing and that many of them were Councils situated far from Thurrock’s borders.


Sheila Murphy, Assistant Director of Children’s Services stated that she agreed the reports need to be printed in colour, but pointed out that the full colour versions were available on the website. The Officer then explained that the Department for Education allocated each Local Authority a set of statistical neighbours based on similarities in population and demographics for the purposes of benchmarking. This was not something that could be changed by Thurrock.


The Chair, Councillor Redsell asked Officers to present the report for the first item of business.


The Assistant Director introduced the report stating that there had continued to be a high demand on statutory services however there had been a reduction in contacts and referrals which meant Thurrock was coming into line with its statistical neighbours.


The Assistant Director explained there had been continued focus on child adoption however the local courts were not keen on issuing adoption orders. She did however state that they had already doubled the previous year’s number of adoptions.


The Chair invited questions from Members. Councillor Worrall, referring to page 21 of the report, stated that she had previously been Portfolio Holder for Housing and had worked on increasing the number of Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO’s) in the borough, and questioned if there was now a shortage of such properties.


The Assistant Director stated that there was a serious shortage of HMO’s as there was only 1 which could accommodate 4 to 6 young people. The Officer went on to state that they had presented a business case to investigate opportunities to increase the number of HMO’s, which had been approved prior to the meeting. This meant that they were now able to begin exploring options in this regard.


Councillor Liddiard asked what assessments the report referred to. The Officer explained that it referred to primary assessments done after receiving a referral from the Multi Agency Support Hub (MASH). She further clarified that the MASH take all the information and decide on the most appropriate course of action for each contact. The report referred to the contacts received by the Social Care Assessment Team from the MASH.


Councillor Hamilton asked what the general age of children up for adoption was. The Assistant Director stated that the majority were under 5 years old, however some were part of a sibling group where one of the siblings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.


Independent Reviewing Officer Annual Report pdf icon PDF 97 KB

Additional documents:


The Interim Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance, Brian Relph introduced the report and highlighted the key issues which had been identified. The Officer stated the number of Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) had remained steady however there had been some areas for improvement – especially in relation to child participation, IRO consistency and Pathway Planning. He also pointed out that the feedback from Children had been positive with many citing their IRO as the only consistent person in their life. It was also noted that Education had the fewest number of issues identified.


The Chair stated she had been pleased by the consistent presence of the IRO. Councillor Liddiard asked who would see the IRO report and if it was per child. The Officer explained that there was a separate report produced per child but that the Annual Report provided an overview of the service as a whole.


Councillor Worrall stated that she had been disappointed to learn some reviews were only being completed in the weeks before the next review was due. The Officer stated he too had been disappointed to discover this and emphasised that he had taken a robust approach to address this issue.


Councillor Worrall asked if a report on this could be brought to the Committee more regularly. The Assistant Director stated it could be added to the recurring Social Care Performance report.


Joseph Kaley stated that he had experienced this situation first hand. He also suggested a more graded termination of the IRO’s contact with Children Looked After, as it was at the time an abrupt ending to what was often their most consistent relationship. The Chair agreed this would be a better approach for children entering aftercare.


The Officer stated that he supported this idea however it would need to be reviewed carefully in order to balance resources between their statutory duties and a graded withdrawal. The Chair asked the Officer to report back to the Committee on this.


Ms Howell stated that the school year continued past the 18th birthday of a young person and perhaps Children Looked After services could follow the school year. The Head of Virtual School stated that the Virtual School’s support did not end at the 18th birthday, and the service continued to provide support, although they did not receive funding for this.


Councillor Johnson noted from the report that Thurrock had roughly 2 boys to every 1 girl in care and questioned if this phenomenon was unique to Thurrock. The Assistant Director for Children’s Services stated that Thurrock was slightly disproportionate to other Councils however explained that this was largely due to the number of Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers entering Thurrock, who were usually male.


Councillor Johnson also spoke of the IRO Feedback Form, which he had felt was condescending to young people because it had asked them to tick “smiley face” boxes. The Officer stated that the form had not been updated in some time and was now being considered as part of a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 47 KB


Members agreed to remove “Placement Update of Care Packages” from the Work Programme as this had been integrated into the standard item “Children’s Social Care Performance Report”.


The Chair suggested that the Children in Care Council address Full Council again in the near future for the benefit of new Councillors and to remind all of their responsibility and liability as Corporate Parents.