Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Kevin Phillips  Email: kevin.phillips@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5145

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Steve Offord, Mark James and Radha Rabadia.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 September 2014.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 3 September 2014 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Progress Report on Cabinet Member Priorities 2014-15 pdf icon PDF 53 KB

This report provides an up-date on the progress made against priorities of the Cabinet Member for 2014-15, agreed at Cabinet on 23 July 2014:

 

·                    ensure delivery of additional school places agreed by Cabinet and identify future options;

·                    re-commission Youth Services and implement Children’s Centres contracts;

·                    on-going scrutiny and driving up of standards in RBG schools;

·                    ensure children’s social care services are performing well;

·                    promote Corporate Parenting role;

·                    pursue issues related to funding of ‘Nil Recourse’ in conjunction with Health and Adult Social Care Portfolio holder.

Minutes:

Councillor John Fahy, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Lead Member for Children’s Services introduced and summarised the report.

 

In response to a Member question Councillor John Fahy stated that Royal Greenwich had four Priority School Building Programme schemes which are funded and managed by the Education Funding Agency (EFA). He confirmed that three of the four schemes were progressing. The bid received for the Eltham CE scheme was significantly over budget however, so the EFA were pursuing an alternative procurement route and have assured the council that all schemes will be completed by the end of 2017. 

 

In response to questions from the Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick, Councillor John Fahy confirmed that lots of work was going on to identify possible future school sites.

 

The Chair commented that there were two schools which had decanted into temporary accommodation on the Shooters Hill site, which were Christ Church and St Mary Magdalene. She added that there had been difficulties coaching children between locations.

 

In response to a Member question the Senior Assistant Director stated that early help had been a significant factor in reducing the number of children who were referred to children’s social care. Help for under 5’s was particularly effective. He added that the evidence was that thresholds were well understood by people working with children and their families and that the vast majority of referrals led to a social work led assessment. The long term trajectory is a reduction in referrals, fewer children in need. He confirmed that in many other areas the figure was going up. Our performance on re-referrals to children’s social care was relatively good and this indicated effective social work intervention and ‘step down’ support that helped sustain positive changes.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Senior Assistant Director stated that in any given year the cohort of pupils who were looked after children was relatively small. The educational attainment of our looked after children had been on an upward trajectory for the last three years and performance was better than many local authorities across London. He also confirmed that there were more looked after children in higher education than before and that there are remarkable individual successes. Where children became looked after children later in their childhood their educational attainment was more likely to be poor compared to the performance of children and young people in long term stable placement.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Senior Assistant Director stated that looked after children had dedicated funding to support learning in and out of school. The 'staying put' arrangements allowed young people to stay with foster parents beyond their 18th birthday enabling them to complete further education courses. He also confirmed that schools, colleges and higher education providers were giving priority to and supporting care leavers. For example there were grants for those attending university and we provided help with accommodation costs during vacations. There were protocols in place with colleagues in Housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Broadwalk Children's Home pdf icon PDF 57 KB

The Panel is asked to note:

 

·        action taken in response to inspection recommendations;

·        findings from an Elected Member’s visit and five Regulation 33 visits;

·        changes to the regulatory regime for Children’s Homes under The Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015.

 

Minutes:

The Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers introduced and summarised the report.

 

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick commented that since the report had been written she had visited Broadwalk and during her visit she had the opportunity to meet the OFSTED inspectors, who were on site. She also confirmed that the atmosphere during her visit had been positive. In response the Senior Assistant Director thanked the Chair for her contribution to the inspection process and for her feedback on Broadwalk. He confirmed that the report from OFSTED had not yet been received but that it was expected to arrive before their next meeting.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that the ‘Independent Person Criteria’ was fairly general but they did need to be assured that the person had the expertise and understood safeguarding. He added that it was down to the management at Broadwalk to source the person. He also confirmed that this was a paid position and was currently being carried out by someone who had experience of being a care leaver.

 

In response to a Member question the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that links had been made with some outstanding care homes in Surrey and they were in the process of sharing best practice.

 

The Chair commented that she would like to give feedback to the young people and staff who were doing the painting and decorating during her visit and pass on that she thought it was great.

 

In response to the Chair reflecting on her a recent London wide scrutiny event, the Senior Assistant Director commented that events like the recent event hosted by the Chair and colleagues in the Gallery at the Woolwich Centre helpfully promoted an understanding of corporate parenting responsibilities amongst all Councillors and leaders in partner agencies.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers confirmed that the issues in 5.3 of the report were raised by the independent visitor whilst conducting their monthly visit. One issue was in relation to contacting the parents of the children who live there to ascertain their views.  A second issue was about a practice issue where the independent visitor and the staff had worked together to resolve. 

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that it depended on the person and their skills as to whether or not they succeeded in the independent person role. He also confirmed that it did seem to be working well in this situation.

 

In response to a Member question the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that a member of his team was currently at a national event learning more about the revised regulations and quality standards which come into force in April 2015.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Looked After Children & Care Leavers : Quarter 2 performance pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Note the performance of our services for looked after children and care leavers, set out in the report and the appendices, and the actions being taken to continue to improve outcomes for our children.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers introduced and summarised the report.

 

The Senior Assistant Director also stated that the performance around adoption in Greenwich was relatively good however it was recognised that pace was needed to reduce timescales for more children placed for adoption.

 

In response to a Member’s reflection on the timescale from becoming a looked after child to placement with adopters, the Senior Assistant Director explained that the adoption score card used a three year moving average.  The duration of care proceedings was a significant factor and the average duration of proceedings had come down from 52 weeks to 33 weeks. Following national reform of the family justice system, there was a national ambition of care proceedings only exceptionally taking longer than 26 weeks. Royal Greenwich was working closely with colleagues in three other south London authorities, the courts, CAFCASS (the family court service for children) and other stakeholders to tackle avoidable delay.

 

The Chair, Councillor Barbara Barwick commented that the child should always come first and that she welcomed the changes in the legislation.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that most children missing from care were 16 – 17 year old boys who on the edge of or involved in criminality. There were a relatively smaller number of young looked after children who went missing and some girls. Children’s services worked closely with the police to find missing children. Independent return interviews were commissioned though some young people preferred to talk to someone they know. It is a key improvement priority that every child missing from care had a return interview.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that the figure in the report of 34 children did equate to 34 different children going missing rather than separate episodes.

 

In response to a Member question the Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that the improvements in care leavers NEET (Not in Employment Education or Training) was due to developing good partnership arrangements with employers. He also stated that the PETE Panel (Participation in Education, Training & Employment) and Virtual PETE had been effective in bringing together a whole host of people and organisations that were able to offer opportunities to young people in care. 

 

The Chair commented that it would be good for the Panel to attend a future Children in Care Council meeting. The Service Leader - Permanence for Looked after Children & Care Leavers stated that they would like the Panel to attend. He added that they were currently carrying out a survey which was what they had presented to the Panel the previous year.

 

There followed a discussion between the Chair and Officers regarding a meeting with the Children in Care Council and it was agreed that this request be included in next year’s work programme.

 

The Chair  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.