Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Denise Kevern  Email: denise.kevern@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 on behalf of Councillors Rajinder James, Sarah Merrill and Clare Morris; Pauline Sheath, Church of England Representative and Alexander Seadon Parent Governor Representative, Gillian Palmer Director of Children’s Services. 

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 38 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 49 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 January 2016.

 

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 Children and Young Peoples Scrutiny Panel held on 13 January 2016 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

Matters Arising from 28 June 2016

 

The Panel noted that the two co-Chairs will take responsibility for different areas of the Scrutiny agenda. Councillor Linda Bird would concentrate on schools and curriculum. Councillor Christine Grice would review social care.

 

Corporate guidelines on best practice regarding scrutiny had been circulated to the Panel.

 

A Joint Working meeting with the Chairs of the Healthier Communities and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Panel and officers to review performance was scheduled for September 2016.

 

Visit to Broadwalk Children’s Home - Councillor Offord stated that visits tended to be pre-prepared and would like shorter notice given. The Permanence Service Leader said this was feasible as long as the Home was not dealing with an emergency at the time of the visit. Councillors Grice and Merrill would visit the Home in the autumn term.

 

Terms of Reference – A report in 2005 to Cabinet agreed that the Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel would monitor the work of the Children’s Trust. The Panel asked for clarity regarding their role and responsibilities and asked for the Terms of Reference to be reviewed, and also there was a need for flexibility to accommodate policy changes.

5.

Permanence Service for looked after children and care leavers: Performance 2015-16 Q4 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

The Panel is asked to scrutinise the performance of Royal borough of Greenwich’s 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 presented by the Permanence Service Leader and the Senior Assistant Director.

 

The Permanence Service Leader responded to members questions with the following answers.

 

The number of Looked After Children (LAC) remained level and was anticipated to decline and the Royal Borough of Greenwich (RBG) was better than the national trend. Information from other Local Authorities was not available so it was not possible to analyse if RBG took more children into care than other authorities. The Panel felt that there was a need to look at underlying trends behind the figures for example poor housing, schools failing, ethnicity, refugees and asylum seekers.

 

Placements were assessed by the Personalised Commissioning Team to ensure they are good enough to meet the specific needs of the child. The same standards applied to children placed out of the borough and were monitored. If a child was placed out of borough their social / key worker may see them more frequently, dependant on the child. 75% were placed outside of borough. It should be noted that there was a national shortage of foster carers.

 

The number of LAC children missing for over 48 hours had increased, which included where children had gone back to parents. This showed as a placement move, and had subsequently been amended to ensure they are not shown in this category.

 

The health statistics showed good performance. Where immunisations were not up to date it was generally children who were new to the UK. The Panel requested that the immunisation statistics be broken down by gender.

 

The Panel requested that future reports included more information on the profile of LAC and Care Leavers to enable them to undertake their Corporate Parenting role more fully. They requested the following additional information; Profile of all RBG LAC to include ages, ethnicity health needs and disabilities, reasons for being in care, age they came into care, further the report should provide the number of children as well as the percentages, type of placement, legal status of LACs, a scatter map of LACs placed outside of borough and details to be provided, the split between children placed within London and those outside for Greenwich, and also those placed more than 20 miles outside of borough and the reasons why(3.3.27).

Action: Senior Assistant Director in discussion with Co-Chairs

 

A Needs Analysis for LAC and Care Leavers would be circulated to members.

Action: Senior Assistant Director / Senior Corporate Development Officer

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

6.

Independent Reviewing Officers: Annual Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Note the annual report from the designated officer responsible for the independent reviewing officer function which covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 and scrutinise the actions being taken to address the areas for improvement set out in this report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Early Help Strategic Lead.

 

An error was noted on page 1, paragraph 2.2; Primary Care Trust (PCT) should read Personalised Commissioning Team.

 

The Early Help Strategic Lead explained that children had been actively encouraged to participate in their reviews. Children out of borough kept in touch with their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) by texting, email and phone enabling them to maintain a good and consistent relationship.

 

Children transitioning (18-21) to adulthood with high levels of disability often had support from both a Children’s Services and an Adult Care worker.

 

The Government has published a vision to strengthen support for care leavers up to the age of 25 years.

 

The Panel requested that an update on the Task and Finish Group support model (2.6) be brought back to them once the work was concluded.

Action: Early Help Strategic Lead / Senior Corporate Development Officer

 

Members also requested that an action plan to include smart targets and outcomes, which was more task orientated and identified areas for improvement to allow better scrutiny, be included in the next Independent Review Officer report.

Action: Early Help Strategic Lead / Senior Corporate Development Officer

 

Resolved –

 

That the report and areas for improvement be noted.

 

7.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Adoption Agency: Annual Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Note the annual report on the activity of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Adoption Agency 2015 to 2016. Scrutinise the performance and actions taken to improve performance and note the priorities for improvement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Adoption Team Leader.

 

In response to questions from the Panel the Adoption Team Leader said that Greenwich was above the national average for placing children. The longest time to be placed was 14 years and the shortest was 82 days, with the average being 151 days. It was more difficult to find adopters for sibling groups. The Local Authority is always involved in the adoption of any child.

 

In the appendix, 5.10 the ethnicity graph showed that no children from an Asian background were approved for adoption. The Adoption Team Leader explained that the reason for this was that these were fairly traditional cultures and children tended to be looked after by their families.

 

Resolved - 

 

That the annual report and actions taken to improve performance priorities be noted.

 

* In previous years the Panel sent a festive card to each Looked After Child (LAC). The Panel recommended that this practice be reinstated.