Venue: Virtual Meeting - https://zoom.us/j/92477541505
Contact: Joanna Morley 01572 758271
Apologies were received from Mr Menzies.
RECORD OF MEETING
To confirm the record of the meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee held on 27 August 2020 (previously circulated).
The record of the meeting of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee held on 27 August 2020 was confirmed as correct.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
In accordance with the Regulations, Members are invited to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they may have and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this Agenda and/or indicate if Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to them.
No declarations of interest were received.
PETITIONS, DEPUTATIONS AND QUESTIONS
To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the Virtual Meetings Regulations (s1 2020 392) and the subsequent RCC Procedure Rules agreed at Council on 20 May 2020 and revised by Council on 14 September 2020. (Please see link: )
The total time allowed for this is 30 minutes. Petitions, deputations and questions will be dealt with in the order in which they are received and any which are not considered within the time limit shall receive a written response after the meeting
No petitions, deputations or questions had been received.
QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE FROM MEMBERS
To consider any questions with notice from Members received in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rules No 2198and No. 218A.
No questions with notice had been received from Members.
NOTICES OF MOTION FROM MEMBERS
To consider any Notices of Motion from Members submitted in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule No 219.
No notices of motion had been received from Members.
To receive a presentation on the development of a new Participation and Engagement Strategy from John Herbert, Participation and Engagement Lead Officer. A presentation from care leavers on the work of the participation group and the care leavers’ offer will also be given.
A copy of the current Participation Strategy is attached.
A presentation (appended to the minutes) on the development of a new Participation and Engagement Strategy was received from John Herbert, Participation and Engagement Lead Officer. As a prelude to the presentation Bethany and Sheetal from the Participation Group spoke to Members about the work of the group.
During discussion the following points were noted:
· The young people had received information about the Care Leavers’ Offer through staff.
· The Plans put in place for young people were considered a good offer and members of the participation group who had moved out of area felt that Rutland offered more than other places.
· In response to a question from the Chair, the young people felt that their views had been listened to and that they had had the opportunity to feed into the New Care Leavers’ Offer.
The Chair thanked the young people for their contribution to the discussion. The young people then left the meeting and did not return.
· The Care Leavers’ Offer was a statutory requirement and Rutland’s new Care Leavers’ Offer would be published next week.
· Over 20 Care Leavers had fed into the consultation meetings and their views and experiences had in turn fed into the new Offer.
· The MyView App for Children Looked After (CLA) would be enhanced and extended for use by Care Leavers and could be used, for example, for questionnaires so that the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) could be better prepared before reviews.
· Children and young people would be involved in developing new features for the next version of the MyView app.
· Having sought the views of young people, the Independent Advocacy Service now employed two models; issues based, as some children wanted to speak to people they did not know so that advice was impartial, and relationship based where children were reassured by speaking to individuals they had an existing relationship with.
· A steering group was being set up to plan an awards ceremony to highlight some of the amazing achievements of young people.
· Children’s Services had registered with ASDAN, the National Qualifications Awarding Body to offer qualifications and talents training for CLA, Care Leavers, Service families and those using Youth Services.
· Officers had worked closely with service families and were looking to develop a ‘Local Offer’ type database for them with information, advice, resources and activities.
· The new strategy was welcomed by Councillor Harvey who was reassured that the children’s voice was being heard throughout.
· Councillor Razzell, as the Armed Forces Champion was particularly pleased to see engagement with service families.
· Councillor Begy asked how officers reached the whole teenage demographic not just care leavers. Mr Herbert cited the Youth Council and work with schools to find out what young people wanted. In addition the youth engagement team were very good at doing outreach work, going out on the streets to understand what young people needed and what they were interested in. Capacity of the team was however somewhat limited as it consisted of just two full time equivalent youth ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
CHILDREN'S SERVICES IMPROVEMENT PLAN
To receive a verbal update on the Children Service’s Improvement Plan from Dawn Godfrey, Director of Children’s Services.
A verbal update on the Children’s Services Improvement Plan was received from Dawn Godfrey, Director of Children’s Services.
During discussion the following points were noted:
· Two independent social care consultants had been commissioned to sense check the department’s own assessments of the risk areas highlighted by Ofsted.
· As a positive it was obvious to reviewers that the voice of the child was being heard and that social workers knew their children well. However on the negative side the recording of the children’s views was through the filter of the professional. A key area of focus therefore would be on the co-production of plans rather than writing them for the child. The development of the MyApp would help with this.
· Reviewers found that Child Protection Plans were very detailed, too much so in some cases which over complicated things. It was recommended that Plans should be more dynamic and not remain static.
· Recent work had shown an improvement in the quality of assessments. This had been accompanied by a drop in timeliness however as managers would not sign off on the assessments unless they met the required standard. Ms Godfrey felt this was an acceptable trade–off and would prefer quality assessments over hitting timescales which had, in the event, only dropped slightly, from 90% to 86%
· The perennial issue that the department faced was the quality of its management oversight which had been exacerbated by workforce stability. A new structure was being put in place which would give CLA the high level of support they needed. Going forward there would be one team for children in need and Child protection cases and another team solely for CLA and care leavers which would enable staff to give children more attention.
· Much more emphasis was being placed on in-house fostering recruitment with a separate fostering team manager being focused on this.
· Morale had increased amongst social workers who had felt safer and more supported since the new team leaders had been in place.
· Although there had been a significant amount of workforce ‘churn’, the service should be fully permanently staffed by March of next year. This would mean that agency social workers could be let go, although one would be retained to continue covering maternity leave.
· Councillor Webb had previously asked a question about how many complaints the service had received. Last year during quarters 1 and 2 (April to September) the whole of children’s services had received 13 complaints; this year during the same period there had only been 3 which was remarkable and a reflection of the hard work done by the team. In addition, of last years’ complaints 6 had been stage 2 complaints compared with 3 this year. None had been fully upheld.
· There had been a downturn in the number of compliments received during the same period; down from 20 to 14, however in October there had already been 7 received.
· The annual conversation with Ofsted in January was not a formal session but would be used by ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS
To receive any other items of urgent business which have been previously notified to the person presiding.
The chair notified the Committee of two items of business that he wished to raise.
1. In response to an email that had been sent to members, the Chair reminded the Committee that the constitution, and in particular Procedure Rule 93, prohibited them from responding on any matter where there was a right of appeal to a tribunal and that it would not be appropriate for scrutiny to get involved in individual cases. However, as was so often the case, the concerns raised had stimulated a wider line of enquiry, such as the number of Special Educational Needs (SEN) cases that went to tribunal and the need for legal representation at tribunal. The Chair therefore invited Ms Godfrey to make a statement regarding the issue of SEN tribunals and her response is outlined below:
Following concerns raised by some members in regards to SEN tribunal numbers in Rutland, the following information seeks to reassure Committee members about the quantity and context of these.
i. The numbers of complaints regarding Children's SEND service in the last two years up to October 2020 was 6.
Such complaints are dealt with at SEND service level, utilising the Corporate Complaints and Compliments Policy and process. The first stage in this process will be to provide a service response, as matters pertaining to the SEND Code of Practice will determine this first level response. These complaints contain confidential information and are not discussed at the Children's Scrutiny Committee as Childrens Scrutiny Committee would not be the appropriate forum to discuss individual complaints.
ii. 13 SEND cases have been brought to the SEND Tribunal in the last two years. The nature of these cases is as follows:
· Parental appeal against RCC’s decision not to assess a child.
· Parental appeal against RCC’s decision not to issue an Education Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
· Parental appeal against Sections of the EHC Plan.
There are 5 SEND cases currently in Appeal, with an outcome yet to be reached.
iii. The outcome of the cases which went to Tribunal in the last two years is as follows:
· 5 cases - Conceded prior to Tribunal Hearing.
· 5 cases - Agreement reached prior to Tribunal Hearing.
· 2 cases - Local Authority position upheld at Tribunal.
· 1 case – Tribunal directed amendment to EHC Plan.
Ms Godfrey also added that the service was reviewing its use of legal representation at tribunals. SEN officers were trained in appeals and were very skilled but they were not used to the legal arena. There was also a potential organisational risk if a case went to full tribunal hearing and that was why legal representation was used in these circumstances.
2. The second issue raised by the Chair concerned the CQC “Review of Health Services for Children Looked After and Safeguarding Rutland” which had identified a number of issues. Health colleagues had presented on this report at the meeting in February however the action plans to address the highlighted issues were only received last week.
DATE AND PREVIEW OF NEXT MEETING
Wednesday, 27 January 2021 at 7pm – Scrutiny of the Budget
(Joint meeting with the Adults and Health Scrutiny Committee)
Thursday 28 January 2021: Scrutiny of the Budget – Joint meeting with Adults & Health Scrutiny Committee