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Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
No declaration of interest was received.
To present the minutes of the previous meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 10 June, 2019.
The minutes of the previous meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 10th June, 2019 were presented and were confirmed as correct.
Children’s Services Manager to update the Panel on progress with regard to securing funding support for the Voices from Care project.
The Children’s Services Manager reported that the Panel at its previous meeting in June had asked him to follow-up on an enquiry to the Office of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner regarding the availability of proceeds of crime money to help fund the Voices from Care Cymru Project to set up a monthly participation group for care experienced children and young people to help co-produce an Ynys Môn Looked After Children and Care Leavers’ Strategy. This followed an initial request to the Office of the North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner which the Children’s Services had made as part of a general approach for funding for the project to partners both within and outside the Council. The North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner had declined the request on the basis that to make a contribution would set a precedent for contributing to projects by other North Wales authorities and also because it was developing its own process for engaging with children and young people across North Wales. A subsequent enquiry was made about the possibility of accessing proceeds of crime money instead. The Officer said that no response had been forthcoming at the time of the Panel’s June meeting and he confirmed that no reply had been received to the follow-up enquiry either.
The Panel noted the position and although disappointed, agreed that it was important that the Service should in any case continue with the work of taking the project forwards. The Head of Children and Families’ Services advised that work on the project had started and that representatives from Voices from Care Cymru would be attending the Corporate Parenting Panel’s December meeting to provide an update on progress.
To present the report of the Independent Reviewing Officers.
The report of the Independent Reviewing Officers (Safeguarding and Quality Unit) on the progress made on issues raised since the Safeguarding and Quality Unit report in this format was first presented to the Panel in March, 2018 was presented for the Panel’s consideration. The Service’s response to those issues was also incorporated within the report.
The Independent Reviewing Officers highlighted the main points from the report as follows –
• That inconsistency in the quality of the assessments for Looked after Children remains an issue – from an audit of 15 cases the assessments were current in the case of 9 children (60%) although examples of excellent assessments were also found with clear action steps to improve the outcomes for the child.
• From 70 of the statutory reviews held during June and July, 2019, a Section 6 document was included in 31 reviews (44.2%). The document had been updated in 30 reviews (42.8%). The Independent Review Officers are aware of the great efforts made to prepare the necessary documentation for reviews and acknowledge the Service’s response that it has been a challenging period with regard to staff absences which is likely to have impacted on performance.
• The IROs consider that the Section 6 Care and Support document is ineffective in facilitating the review process and are pleased that Children and Families’ Services have given detailed consideration to making changes to the document.
• For both of the previous reports to the Panel, an audit of cases was conducted in order to measure to what extent the case notes are current. The two audits highlighted that there were current case notes for each case scrutinised. The IROs are of the opinion that excellent progress has been maintained with regard to the quality and consistency of keeping case notes with notes often being added several times each day. As a result no specific audit was made for this report.
• The IROs are invited to permanent care planning meetings thereby enabling them to express an opinion orally or by e-mail beforehand. This development is to be warmly welcomed. Quarterly meetings are also held between the IROs and the Service Managers to discuss specific matters – the report provides a summary of the issues and concerns raised in the second of those meetings since this new process was established in relation to staff absences and changes in social workers, workloads and expectations and practice matters (Paragraph 5 (a) to (f) of the report refers).
• A sample of 6 cases where there was a need for a Post-16 Learning Plan showed that the plans had not been updated to reflect the current needs of the child.
• The IROs continue to respond to the challenge in terms of ensuring efficiency within the review process and to use different approaches to include and engage children and young people in meetings. The IROs review their current work in the context of Standards and the Practice Guidelines of Wales Review Officers. The Service Manager ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To receive an update from the Resilient Families Team.
Dawn Hutchinson, Practice Leader provided the Panel with a progress report on the work of the Resilient Families Team since its establishment in 2017.
The team was created in response to the requirements placed on local authorities by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 that they provide preventative approaches to the delivery of well-being. The team works on the basis of Prevent, Return, Reduce and Review principles i.e. –
• Prevent children from becoming looked after when it is unnecessary;
• Return children home during the first 8 weeks of care and work with identified families for the reunification of their children from care;
• Reduce the nature of looked after accommodation/care required (e.g. from residential care to foster care to family revocation), and
• Review the safe return of children in long-term care.
In order to work towards and meet the core aims of Prevent, Return, Reduce and Review, the Team is a group of highly skilled, multi-disciplinary workers who intervene with families which present a high level of need which places their children at risk of becoming looked after, or has recently caused their children to become Looked After or which prevents their children being restored to their care. The team consists of a Practice Leader, 2 Social Workers, 2 Intervention/Support Workers, a Reflect Project worker and 0.3 Business Support Officer. The team also provides consultation, training, advice and guidance to the wider workforce and conducts intensive interventions with families in crises.
The Practice Leader explained that the Team applies an evidence-based model of intervention which is structured into specific stages and levels of support to be best effective in enabling parents to change. The 2 stage model of intervention requires 15-20 hours per week of structured face to face intensive intervention during the first 8 weeks (Stage 1) followed by up to a year of maintaining any changes made (Stage 2). Based on this, a full-time Resilient Families Intervention Worker has the capacity to work with approximately 6 families per year.
In the two years it has been operational the Resilient Families Team has worked with a total of 57 families and 123 children who without the intensive intervention provided, may have become looked after children. In addition to providing intensive interventions with families, the team also arranges and holds Family Group Conferences (FGC); these are meetings between immediate and extended family members facilitated by a person independent from case management responsibilities which aim to mobilise a family’s own support networks to safeguard the family’s children to prevent them from becoming looked after. In the two years it has been operational, the team has held 32 FGCs involving 79 children.
The team’s “Reflect” project post is funded through separate Welsh Government funding (being incorporated into the Revenue Support Grant for 2019/20) and is part of a national project aimed at increasing the well-being, resilience and stability of women who have one or more children permanently removed from their care through the adoption process, to reduce ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To note that the next meeting of the Panel is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 9 December, 2019.
It was noted that the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel was scheduled for Monday, 9 December, 2019 at 10:00 a.m.
The Children’s Services Manager brought the following to the Panel’s attention –
• The success of Sian Morgan, a Support/Intervention Officer with the Resilient Families Team in being recognised for her use of Welsh in the workplace by the presentation of the Social Care Wales’ Care in Welsh award at the National Eisteddfod in Llanrwst in August, 2019 .
• The arrangements for the Star Awards which celebrate the achievements of all the Authority’s looked after children and young people which this year will take on the format of a fun day to be held at Ysgol Bodedern on 21 September, 2019.
The Panel congratulated Sian Morgan on her award and noted that it was looking forward to the Star Awards.
Since this was Dr Gwynne Jones’s last meeting as Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel, the Panel thanked him for his chairmanship and guidance throughout his time in the role and wished him well in his retirement.