Agenda item

Portfolio Holder Update (Verbal)


Councillor Halden gave the following update:


  • During lockdown, over 90% of Looked After Children (LAC) reviews had been completed on time. As lockdown restrictions ease, a plan would be drafted to continue to improve services for children. The service continued to work on issues such as foster care pay which had received a funding boost of £350,000. Head Start Housing continued to expand and enabled the service to continue to support care leavers.


  • Regarding vulnerability, Thurrock was considered a safe borough as stated in past inspections from Ofsted and CQC but the service could not be complacent with this and the PFH had requested an independent review of Thurrock’s Local Safeguarding Children’s Partnership to ensure that it effective and delivering Serious Case Reviews within timeframes. Once the review of this was published, the PFH would discuss with the Chair of Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee the findings before implementing any recommendations. The service was working to ensure that youth offending services were better incorporated into other council services to protect young people from grooming from gangs and also to ensure there were opportunities for young people. This would be on the Agenda for the PFH’s Economic Vulnerability Task Force in which Councillor Holloway was a part of and the PFH invited Councillor Okunade to be part of this task force as well.


  • Regarding mobility, a new strategy would be implemented that would help the transition into adolescence for young people and would begin with a refresh of the health and wellbeing strategy with a deep dive on mental health. The importance of young people’s voices to be heard by the NHS was highlighted and to work with partners in fostering and adoption services to consider the service’s performance such as 58% of pathway plans being completed which was not what the service aspired to and needed improvement in. The service aimed to help young people reach the ambitions they wished to achieve and not just be a formal processing system for LAC.


The Chair questioned how the effectiveness of the Development Board would be measured. Councillor Halden explained that in discussions with partners, the targets would be considered but success would currently be judged on the work of the Economic Vulnerability Task Force which would be focussing on protecting young people and their interests and livelihoods.


Councillor Akinbohun questioned what strategies were in place to help young people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Councillor Halden highlighted his concerns for young people during the pandemic which were employment, housing and safety. A core duty of the Economic Vulnerability Task Force was to provide advice to young people and reach out to them for feedback from services such as Inspire and Head Start Housing. It was important to ensure that the advice given to young people was valuable and what could be done to change the advice where needed to ensure young people were able to benefit from the advice given. The apprenticeship levy would also be looked with a Postcode Apprenticeship Plan. He went on to say that a report from the Economic Vulnerability Task Force could be brought to Committee after the summer.


Councillor Muldowney felt that young people would be disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and questioned whether there were funds to support the work within the PFH’s remit. Councillor Halden confirmed that the service had received some funding already where 600 laptops had been delivered for LAC and the service was helping young people whose homes were not Wi-Fi enabled. There was other funding that was currently focussed on managing infection rates through monitoring accounts and possible rises of infection rates. However, funding for young people and LAC was always protected and services would to be offered through partnerships. He went on to explain schemes such as Head Start Housing helped to save the Council from placing young people in out of borough placements and enabled the Council to effectively support young people. There was some funding from central government and the Council had a robust system.