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Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Ann Holmes
The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting after which introductions were made.
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 8 June, 2021.
The minutes of the previous meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 8th June, 2021 were presented and were confirmed as correct subject to noting that Nia Hardaker, Independent Reviewing Officer was present at the meeting.
Arising thereon –
The Chair highlighted the matters for action agreed at the 8th June, 2021 meeting some of which entailed the submission of supplemental information to the Panel’s December, 2021 meeting with regard to activities for looked after children and out of county placements. She specifically referred to the proposed actions with regard to reviewing the form and contents of the Care Leavers’ Pathway Plan in line with recommendations made by the Independent Reviewing Officers and sought confirmation that the review would be completed by December, 2021. The Interim Service Manager (Safeguarding) confirmed that that is the timescale which the Service is working towards.
Voices from Care Cymru
Sioned Warren, Voices from Care Cymru to provide an update.
Sioned Warren, Voices from Care Cymru’s Wellbeing Officer for the North updated the Panel on the VfC’s participation project with the Isle of Anglesey County Council which involved establishing 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.
Ms Warren informed the Panel that much work had been going on to try to encourage children and young people being looked after by the Authority to join the participation group to better enable them to have their say on the plans and policies that directly affect them. Although the work has been challenging especially with the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic, Voices from Care Cymru organised a virtual event to generate interest and subsequently the monthly meetings are now held consistently. The current focus is on expanding the participation group’s numbers and to this end the group’s members have come up with the idea of a poster competition that would both publicise the group and provide information about its aims and objectives. Whilst the brief for this task has been completed, the next step is to agree a mechanism for getting the message to young people and getting them interested in joining the group. It has also emerged that the group would like to learn more about the Corporate Parenting Panel and perhaps to stage an event that would bring the group and the Panel together in an informal way. Voices from Care is also looking at the possibility of staging fun days to persuade children and young people in care to become involved with the group and thereby with the services that affect them, and the organisation is open to suggestions as to how this can be achieved. Although the monthly meetings are still being conducted virtually at present the aim is to hold the meetings in person when possible while also providing the facility for those finding it difficult to travel to be able to participate remotely.
The Panel thanked Ms Warren for the update which it appreciated. Points made during the ensuing discussion were as follows –
· The challenges involved in getting looked after children and young people to participate and whether these are commonplace. Reference was made to an event which was staged pre-pandemic in the summer of 2019 which was attended by foster carers and children and young people in the Authority’s care and which gave Voices from Care direct access to the children and young people the organisation is looking to engage. Having experienced both in person and virtual events, the Panel sought clarification whether the challenges now faced are down to the circumstances created by the pandemic or whether they signify a lack of interest or a preoccupation with other activities on the part of young people. Ms Warren clarified that once they have joined, the young people appear to enjoy the involvement but it is getting them to that point that is proving difficult in Anglesey ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
To present the report of the IROs.
The report of the Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) as part of their duty to monitor the activity of the local authority acting as a good corporate parent under Part 6 of Welsh Government’s Code of Practice was presented for the Panel’s consideration. The report documented progress against the recommendations made by the IROs to the Corporate Parenting Panel in March, 2018.
Mr Huw Owen, Independent Reviewing Officer presented the report and highlighted the following points –
· Quality of assessments of looked after children - case sampling undertaken by the IROs showed that from 20 cases, 11 of the children did not have a current assessment (i. e. conducted in 2020 or 2021). Some of the assessments were not up to date in terms of reflecting the considerable changes some of the children have experienced since the completion of their assessment. Although the IROs have welcomed the Service’s policy commitment to provide an up to date assessment for every looked after child, further work needs to be done in this area in order to fully deliver on this commitment.
· Care and Support Plans in Place - The IROs note the considerable progress made in this area in comparison to what has been previously reported to the Panel. In the period between 1 June, 2020 and 23 July 2021, summary reports were received in 47 LAC Reviews (91%) The corresponding percentage in the IROs previous report was 91% and 97% for two respective periods for which data was collected. The IROs believe that support from a designated Business Support Officer has been invaluable in achieving this improvement.
· Thorough review and monitoring of implementation and difference made - the IROs welcome the commitment by the Children and Families’ Service to review the template of the Part 6 Care and Support Plan hoping that it will result in a less repetitive form that is more child centred. The high number of summary reports presented prior to LAC reviews is helpful to both Social Workers and IROs in the preparation work.
· Quality and consistency of record keeping - the IROs remain of the opinion that maintaining case records has been consistently good for some time.
· Acute focus on Permanency Planning for Looked After Children to reduce the number of children being looked after - the IROs welcome the commitment by the Children and Families’ Service to review its policy on Special Guardianship Orders and are of the view that the Service has been proactive in all relevant cases where Special Guardianship Orders could be considered. The IROs continue to attend Permanent Care Planning meetings which it is felt leads to timely information sharing and the avoidance of drift.
· The LAC Review process has continued using a variety of virtual media and whilst this has enabled the continuation of contact with children and key adults, there is also a huge disadvantage in not having face to face conversation with children. A total of 120 LAC Reviews were held between 1 April and 23 July, 2021 of ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Service Manager (Intensive Intervention) to report.
The report of the Service Manager – Intensive Intervention incorporating the Isle of Anglesey Fostering Service’s Statement of Purpose was presented for the Panel’s consideration.
The Service Manager – Intensive Intervention reported that in line with requirement of the Local Authority Fostering Services (Wales) Regulations 2018, the Statement of Purpose provides information about the Isle of Anglesey County Council’s Fostering Service with regard to the Service’s management and staffing structure; the range of needs of the children for whom the service is provided, and how the service is delivered to meet the needs of children and to support them to achieve their personal outcomes. The Statement of Purpose will be available to Welsh Ministers, CIW, approved and prospective foster carers, any child placed by the fostering service, the parents of any such child, persons working for the purpose of the local authority fostering service and any other person on request. In addition to the Statement of Purpose, there is a range of specific and procedural documents that support the aims, objectives, service principles and standards set out for the Fostering Service. The Statement of Purpose will be updated on an annual basis or earlier in the event of any changes made to the services provided.
In considering the Statement of Purpose the Panel made the following points –
· Whether the range of key legislation and policies governing the work of the Fostering Service facilitate or hinder the delivery of the service and whether they need to be simplified.
The Service Manager – Intensive Intervention said that the key pieces of legislation and policies collectively contribute to the standards and expectations on local authorities as Fostering agencies. Fostering is a statutory responsibility and it is an important responsibility for local authorities to fulfil in terms of ensuring the best possible care for the children whom it looks after and in ensuring also that the right people are engaged to provide the care on the Authority’s behalf. The Service has developed over the last two years and two social workers along with a support worker have been appointed over the summer the latter to provide support for friends and family foster carers.
· Whether the Statement of Purpose sufficiently captures the aims and objectives of the Fostering Services and how it proposes to achieve them.
The Service Manager – Intensive Intervention said that the Isle of Anglesey County Council’s is a leading authority in terms of the provision made for the Authority’s Foster Carers specifically the unique package of benefits that was developed for foster carers in April, 2019 in recognition of the challenging role they undertake and which has provided an exemplar model for other authorities many of which have since introduced similar benefits. The Statement of Purpose is not a static document and will evolve as new forms of provision, support and opportunities for foster carers are developed. The Statement as presented meets the regulatory requirements and provides a starting point for that conversation. There is a risk that the purpose ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Interim Service Manager (Safeguarding) to report.
The Interim Service Manager – Safeguarding presented the report incorporating proposed terms of reference for the Corporate Parenting Panel and he invited the Panel’s views on whether it deemed the paper sufficiently captures the Panel’s range of responsibilities.
In considering the terms of reference, the Panel suggested the following amendments –
· The opening statement under Purpose of the Corporate Parenting Panel rather than headlining the legal requirements, to refer to the Council’s aim as defined in its Corporate Plan 2017-22 to create the conditions whereby individuals can thrive and realise their long-term potential.
· To expand on the Elected Member role under point 7 to reflect the spirit of what being a corporate parent means e.g. to want the best for children and young people whom the Authority looks after, for them to be healthy and to do well at school and for them to be safe and happy.
· To include a Voices from Care Cymru representative among the Panel’s membership as a link between the Panel and looked after children.
· To specify the Elected Members Portfolio/Scrutiny responsibilities and Champion for Children in Care role under Membership of the Panel
· To refer to the Director of Education as Director of Learning, Skills and Young People and the Education Service as the Learning Service.
· To refer to the Health Authority representative as Local Health Board representative
· To include among the Panel’s responsibilities the production of a twice yearly newsletter for looked after children and young people setting out matters of interest from panel meetings.
It was agreed –
· To endorse the Panel’s terms of reference subject to incorporating the amendments suggested.
· To ask the Interim Service Manager – Safeguarding to circulate the amended terms of reference for final confirmation.
To note that the next scheduled meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel is at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 December, 2021.
The arrangements for the next scheduled meeting of the Panel at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday 14 December, 2021 were noted.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider adopting the following -
“Under Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, to exclude the press and public from the meeting during the discussion on the following item on the grounds that it may involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 12 and 13 of Schedule 12A of the said Act.”
It was resolved under Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 to exclude the press and public from the meeting during the discussion on the following item on the grounds that it involved the disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 12 and 13 of Schedule 12A to the said Act.
Educational Attainments of Children and Young People Looked After by the Authority
The Senior Manager (School Standards and Inclusion) to report verbally.
The Senior Well-being Manager gave a verbal report on the educational attainments of the Authority’s looked after children at Key Stage 4 and she informed the Panel that more comprehensive information would be provided to the Panel’s December meeting once PEPs had been updated. The following main points were highlighted –
· Of the cohort of 10, 60% were successful in the examinations they had sat; 80% were proceeding to further education and/or apprenticeships whilst 20% had not sat any examinations and had not been able to identify a post-16 placement.
· That a few of the cohort had performed particularly well in their GCSE examinations.
The Senior Well-being Manager provided some background information about each child’s placement, personal circumstances and mental wellbeing which are influencing factors in how well they achieve. She confirmed that two individuals had not been able to engage meaningfully with education nor with the Intervention Team.
The Panel noted the information and sought clarification as to whether the children/ young people had performed according to expectations; the Panel also sought information about KS2, KS3 and post 16 outcomes.
The Senior Well-being Manager confirmed that the children/young people referred to had performed in accordance with targets and whilst there are other priorities in their lives, the Authority is satisfied with the outcomes overall. Whilst many people make up the support team which seeks to do the best by these children and young people and to help them achieve the best possible results, there are two cases where despite the intervention provided, the individuals have not done so well and have not identified a way forward. With regard to evidencing performance against targets the electronic PEP is able to generate data to this end.
The Panel commented that where the children and young people have succeeded, the Authority should be formally congratulating them either by card or letter. The LAC Education Liaison Officer confirmed that an acknowledgement card signed by herself and the Director of Social Services wishing them all the best is sent to look after children and young people in Years 6 and 11 after the publication of examination results.
It was agreed –
· To note the information.
· That the Panel be provided with a more detailed educational outcomes report to its December, 2021 meeting to include KS2, KS3 and post 16 attainments along with an analysis of performance against targets.