Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 4 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Jasmine Kassim  Email: jasmine.kassim@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5146

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

 

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

Apologies for leaving early were received from Councillor Gary Parker.

2.

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 43 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.

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

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

4.

Participation of Looked After Children and Care Leavers pdf icon PDF 58 KB

The Panel is asked to note the activity to engage with our looked after children and care leavers and to scrutinise the progress made and plans to continue to improve engagement and participation.

 

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Permanence Service Leader who stated that in April 2015 Participation People were awarded the contract for the Youth Participation Service, supporting the Children in Care Council and Greenwich Young People’s Council. 

 

In response to a question, the Permanence Service Leader confirmed that our foster carers and our children’s home actively support the participation of children in care in these formal arrangements for engagement as well as informally.

 

In attendance were four representatives of the Children in Care Council, supported by Participation People, who gave a presentation on the Children in Care Council and the survey they had undertaken to canvass the views of children in care. 

 

There are three children in care groups: the Junior Children in Care Council, ages 7-11; Children in Care Council, ages 12-18 and Care Leavers’ Forum, 18 plus. The focus now is to make sure all three groups work effectively and then it was planned to develop links between the groups.

 

The survey had been promoted by direct communication through the post, through social media, at the Looked After Children Awards event, at the festive pop-up cinema event and at social worker team meetings.  The results of the survey had been used to decide on the two campaign priorities for the Children in Care Council. The priorities identified were promoting the use of the “Mind of My Own” app and raising awareness about what it is like to be in care.

 

In response to questions, representatives from the Children in Care Council described the uses for the “Mind of My Own” app and informed the Panel that a survey would be undertaken annually.

 

They informed the Panel that the majority of responses came by post with a slightly higher response rate by boys. The survey had been sent to those placed within and outside of the Borough and a raffle prize had been offered to encourage responses.

 

The Panel noted the feedback that participants knew who to contact about their care plans.

 

The Chair thanked the Children in Care Council for attending and for their excellent presentation.

 

Resolved –

 

That the content of the report be noted and that the Children in Care Council be congratulated on their presentation and the work that they had carried out.

 

5.

2015-16 performance at the end of Quarter 2. pdf icon PDF 47 KB

The performance of services for looked after children and care leavers and the actions being taken to continue to improve outcomes for children.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Senior Assistant Director and the Permanence Service Leader. The focus of the service was securing permanence for children (including for children who go home), placement stability and the recruitment of more local foster carers. The service was improving practice by applying learning from analysing why some children became looked after children again.

 

In response to questions, Officers confirmed that the recruitment film made by foster carers about their work had been circulated.  There had been more people expressing an interest in becoming foster carers but not all had the appropriate skills or were only interested in fostering babies. More assessments of people as suitable to foster were being carried out and there was an increase in the number of children in Greenwich foster placements. Members noted the importance of recruiting foster carers suited to the role who were ambitious for children.

 

In response to questions, Officers advised that missing children had the opportunity to speak to someone who was not involved in their care when they returned.  In most cases the child preferred to speak to someone they know, eg, their social worker. 

 

The Panel asked for clarification between being unauthorised absence and missing from care and were informed that these were definitions developed with the police.  A child was missing when there was no idea where they were or what they were up to, whereas unauthorised absence from care was when it was known where the child had gone and there was knowledge about the circumstances relating to the absence but there was no agreement for them to be there, for example going to see a parent or a friend. Social workers assessed the risk in any case of absence.

 

The Panel asked whether ambitions for children in care were hampered by budget constraints and were informed that this was not the case.

 

In response to questions about placements outside the Borough, Officers stated that the aim was for more children to be in local placements. For out of borough placements, the aim was to use independent fostering agencies rated good or outstanding.  Fostering arrangements were sometimes made with family members or friends who may live outside of the Borough.  The Director of Children’s Services confirmed that the performance monitor had been modified to include the number of children living in neighbouring boroughs because the Panel had asked for this.

 

In response to questions, Officers advised that children remained with their foster carers after their 18th birthday under a ‘staying put’ arrangement whilst they finished their exams. Care leavers were offered a five-day course from the Money House which assisted their transition to independent living by helping them to budget more effectively. Changes in legislation meant that the Council could assess care leavers for support up to the age of 25 years old if they were in higher education.

 

The Panel noted that the number of children in care was going down even in the context of the growing population.  The Senior  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.