Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Parenting Committee - Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Kenna Victoria Healey, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

33.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 310 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Parenting Committeemeeting held on 7 January 2020.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the Corporate Parenting Committee held on 7 January 2020 were approved as a correct record.

34.

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.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

35.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

36.

Children's Social Care Performance pdf icon PDF 639 KB

Minutes:

The Corporate Director for Children’s Services presented the report and in doing so, explained that it provided a summary of Children’s Social Care performance. She explained it described current activity levels and performance of Children’s social care services in responding to the needs of vulnerable children. The Corporate Director for Children’s Services highlighted that timelines for assessments were now good, although there was room for improvement. She stated that in Quarter 3 the number of children with Child Protection Plans had increased from 142 to 170, but this was still lower than the national average and statistically similar local authorities. She also highlighted that the Looked After Children population had remained stable, and was in line with other similar local authorities, and this was due to an increased focus on permanence planning to ensure decreased waiting times.

The Chair stated that this was a good report, and looked forward to seeing the end of year report, which would contain the final figures. She questioned point 3.6 of the report, and sked why more children were going to live with relatives. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children replied that when a child could no longer live with their parents, the first step a local authority took was to consider if the child could live with other family or friends. She stated that this was looked into before the consideration of foster carers, as children living with other relatives or friends provided better permanency and outcomes for the child. The Chair then questioned point 4.4 and asked how old the Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers were. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children replied that there were currently 28 Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers in Thurrock, who ranged between 16 and 17 years old. She added that one of these children was considerably younger, but now had a Care Order in place.

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

  1. That members note any areas of improvement in Children’s Social Care and work undertaken to manage demand for statutory social care services
  2. For any specific areas of interest to be flagged for inclusion/expansion within the next report.

 

37.

Local Government Association: Support for Care Leavers; Resource Pack for Members, published January 2020 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director of Children’s Services  introduced the item to the Committee  explaining the Local Government Association (LGA) had produced a resource pack on ‘Support for Care Leavers’ for Members in their Corporate Parenting role.

 

She continued to advise the resource pack set out an introduction for Members about care leavers and statutory responsibilities for Council’s and Members. It was highlighted within the resource pack was a number of sessions that would be of use to Members such as:

 

·         Key Lines of Enquiry for all Councillors, which set out the issues that Members would need to consider when having oversight of services for Care Leavers.

·         Case studies from Local Authorities who have tried different ways of working with their care leavers.

 

Members heard how the resource pack was deemed a helpful tool for Members in their Corporate Parenting role, to consider what areas of practice relating to care leavers they wish to scrutinise.

The Chair felt this was a useful resource pack, and felt that all Members of the Council should see it, so they could better understand their Corporate Parenting role. The Chair asked if an update on the resource pack could come to the next committee. Councillor Liddiard agreed with the Chair that all Members should view the pack, as he felt it was very important.

Councillor Smith drew the Committee’s attention to page 33 and asked what care leavers were telling the council, and how they could share their views. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children stated that the Children in Care Council held different events throughout the year to get feedback from children in care across the borough, and consider the care leavers’ offer. She added that this month the Children in Care Council were running an event to take care leavers out and discuss the care leavers’ offer. She added that they were also working to develop joint working between the finance team, Staying Put, and the housing team to assist care leavers.

The Chair then asked the care leavers that had attended the meeting to give their views regarding the care leavers offer. The Chair of the Children in Care Council stated that he had recently moved from a hostel to his own flat, and stated that he had struggled to get paperwork, such as passports and habitual residency tests, because he was estranged from his parents. He added that this had made it difficult to get a job. He commented that the Children in Care Council organised lots of events, particularly at the Inspire Hub, which were aimed at getting care leavers together and planning group activities. He felt these sessions were good as it allowed to care leavers to see the more ‘human’ side of their social workers, and gave the children something to do. He felt that the Council should provide more reasons and opportunities for children in care to meet, as it allowed them to discuss their experiences. 

The Thurrock Open Door Representative invited  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Update on Ofsted Recommendation – Timeliness of Initial Health Assessments pdf icon PDF 526 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children addressed Members notifying them the report set out the actions taken by Children’s Social Care and Health colleagues to address the timeliness of Initial Health Assessments for Children who are Looked After.

 

She continued by explaining when a child or young person came into care, they would have an Initial Health Assessment (IHA). This was a statutory health assessment; the assessment is to be completed within 28 days of coming into care. A paediatrician or an appropriately trained medical practitioner completes the assessment.

 

It was further explained the Initial Health Assessment identified existing health problems and deficits in previous healthcare and provides a baseline for managing the child’s future health needs. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children highlighted point 3.12 of the report and stated in April 2019 only 25% if IHAs were completed on time, but this had increased to 71% in December 2019, and increased again to 81.5% in January 2020. She stated that although there were still some difficulties, processes were now in place and regular meetings were being held between the social care team and healthcare colleagues.

The Chair stated that as there were challenges within the healthcare sector, she would raise it as an issue at the next Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee. She asked why a child was only assessed once a year, once they reached the age of five. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children replied that the IHA set a benchmark for the child’s health, but that if additional health needs were identified then additional sessions with a paediatrician would be arranged. She added that if a child was seen yearly it would ensure that no illnesses or problems developed, but a foster carer could take the child to the GP or A&E if problems arose in between IHA visits.

Councillor Liddiard asked who conducted the IHA, as GP’s were often fully booked, which it would make it difficult to schedule IHAs. The Strategic Lead for Looked After Children replied that the IHA was conducted by an approved paediatrician, but there were currently issues regarding a deficit in healthcare, which were outlined at 2.1 of the report. The Chair of the Foster Carer’s Association added that only two or three paediatricians were approved to carry out IHAs, which meant it was difficult to schedule appointments as they were often very busy. She stated that she had often had difficulties scheduling IHA appointments, as the doctor could only offer one or two slots, some of which were during school time. The Corporate Director of Children’s Services thanked the Foster Carer’s Association for the input, as it highlighted issues that may have otherwise not been addressed. She stated that she had invited health colleagues to the meeting, but they had been unable to attend as Thurrock commissioned NELFT to provide community paediatricians for IHAs. She felt that a child should not be taken out of school for an IHA, particularly as many  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Corporate Parenting Committee Work Programme 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Minutes:

The Committee discussed the work programme ahead of the new municipal year. Members agreed to a number of reports being included on the Work Programme. The Chair thanked the Committee Members for all their hard work throughout the year, and wished luck to those Members standing for re-election. She also congratulated the next Corporate Director of Children’s Services on her appointment.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Corporate Parenting Committee agreed for the following reports to be included on the Work Programme for 2020/2021