The report on pages 25 – 32 was presented by Priscilla Bruce-Annan.
The Chair questioned how the agencies had been working together over the past few months since Priscilla Bruce-Annan had been in post. Priscilla Bruce-Annan said that the multi-agency working was working well and where there were challenges, these were monitored and discussed. Discussions were monitored to check what was agreed and to ensure that work was being followed through.
Councillor Muldowney sought clarification on the action point for meeting with the MASH steering group which was shown as a red rating. Priscilla Bruce-Annan explained that the action had been red at the time that the report was submitted a few weeks ago but since then, the action was now amber as a meeting with the MASH steering group had been set for next week.
Councillor Muldowney questioned if there had been further discussions in regards to the duplication of meetings that had led to a review and new structure. She also noted that shared priorities action points were still red which she felt needed to be resolved before moving onto other areas and she questioned whether this was holding back some areas of work. Priscilla Bruce-Annan explained that the recommendation suggested was to produce a joint document that shared priorities across the boards to reduce any duplications such as a plan on page that could be seen at a glance. This enabled the boards a more collaborative way of working that shared all priorities across the boards. Work continued on and was not held back.
Councillor Muldowney noted that the reviewer had not been able to look at the revised threshold document on the original report but now the document was available and circulated. The reviewer had said that she had been unable to review the effectiveness of information sharing or how the partnership was working as she had not seen the document before. She questioned how this was now being monitored. Priscilla Bruce-Annan explained that the reviewer had not seen the threshold document at the time as it was still in progress but was not published on the LSCP website and circulated to partners and agencies. Feedback had been sought from sub groups in how the document was being used; if there were any issues; and how well practitioners and agencies understood the document. In sub-group meetings, partners and representatives fed back on what thresholds had been met and whether there had been any discussions or disagreements in terms of thresholds and what had happened in some cases where the threshold was not met such as what other support was in place for families.
Referring to Councillor Muldowney’s earlier query on the MASH steering group, Sheila Murphy pointed out that Steering Group had been in operation for a while and was effective. The independent reviewer had recommended that the MASH Steering Group be linked into the LSCP as it worked well and would be better as part of the LSCP’s governance arrangement. She said that the LSCP knew its priorities and the reviewer has recommended that the LSCP link into other boards that also had an input in safeguarding. She went on to say that it helped to have an independent reviewer assess the LSCP to see what could be improved upon and she looked forward to recruiting an independent scrutineer chair.
Councillor Muldowney noted that there were a number of points on the action plan that had no reported formal mechanisms and sought clarity on how policies and strategies were disseminated to frontline workers and ensure that they understood these. She also highlighted the importance of the child’s voice which should be at the top of the agenda. Priscilla Bruce-Annan said that frontline workers were canvassed and asked crucial questions to ensure that they knew policies; to check for learning gaps; to ensure that they knew where to go for information and awareness training. Through this, it enabled the service to check whether those channels were working and if anything needed to be done differently.
Referring to action number 14, the Chair questioned the outcome of the LSCPs’ meeting on a bid to schools forum. Priscilla Bruce-Annan answered that the LSCP had considered that given the current pandemic, it was not the right time to get a bid from schools forum as schools were under immense pressure. Sheila Murphy added that the service was also looking at financial contributions to the LSCP across the strategic partners. When considering financial contributions, schools were included in this and the LSCP was looking into how the partnership could be more equitably funded.
That the Committee provided comment and challenge to the Action Plan and recognise progress to date.