The report was presented by Sue Green, Strategic Lead of Children’s Commissioning and Service Transformation which outlined the work that had been undertaken to ensure that the placements provided were of a good quality. As a part of the ongoing work to increase the sufficiency of provision, the service had identified the following commissioning intentions highlighted in paragraph 3.10 of the report.
Noting that there had been an increase in the use of accommodation 30 miles away from Thurrock, the Chair questioned the reason for this increase. Sue Green answered that the increase was due to an increase in needs and a lack of availability and providers in Thurrock to meet those needs.
Referring to page 63, the Chair noted that out of 53 potential providers, 40 of these had failed. She asked why these providers had failed and what the service was doing to resolve this. In response, Sue Green said that the providers may not have been local providers because the advert for providers was sent out nationally with a set criteria. The failed providers would have failed because the set criteria was not met and some providers were identified as set up for financial gain e.g. moving from one unrelated industry into the care industry. In the past, other local authorities may have accepted these providers but Thurrock had set their standards high and for genuine providers who wished to move into the industry, Thurrock would be able to provide support if needed.
Pointing out paragraph 5.2 of the report, the Youth Cabinet Representative, Lucia Lucioni, questioned which young people’s views would be gathered and what these would entail. Sue Green replied that views were gathered from young people who may not be in accommodation yet and it could be from young people who were leaving accommodation. Consultation responses were used to analyse what was working well in accommodation and where improvements were needed. The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) was reviewing the needs of Children Looked After (CLA) that linked into health and a range of other areas to learn what was important to young people.
To further understanding of semi-independent accommodation, Lynda Pritchard asked if she could obtain more information on the topic. She understood young people leaving care would require support and questioned if a CLA could remain in care such as in their current foster home if the foster carer agreed. Sue Green replied that she could circulate further information on the different types of accommodation for young care leavers. Adding to this, Daniel Jones, Service Manager of Adoption, Fostering and Placements, said that for young people in placements, it was not fostering but a young person could stay in that placement until 21 or 22 years of age if they were still in education and if the carer agreed to it.
Referring to paragraph 3.8, Councillor Anderson noted that in serious cases, a young person would be moved and he questioned if there was a particular issue in this area. Sue Green answered that particular months has had a high number of terminations of providers but this was due to the high standards set by the service. The last 5 months had a lower number of terminations of providers and there was a robust process on quality issues.
Nicola Cranch asked if young people in supported accommodation were supported and taught how to manage finances and budgets. Daniel Jones confirmed that young people were given support in managing their finances and support was provided until they were no longer in care and it would be dependent on how much support a young person needed.
1.1 That members noted the progress made to date to increase the provision of good quality semi-independent accommodation.
1.2 That members agreed the commissioning priorities outlined in paragraph 3.10.