Agenda and minutes

Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 5.00 pm

Venue: Board Room - Easthampstead House. View directions

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor Heydon be elected Chairman of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel for the municipal year 2013/14.

 

COUNCILLOR HEYDON IN THE CHAIR

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Councillor Mrs Barnard be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel for the municipal year 2013/14.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or an Affected Interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of 27 March 2013.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 27 March 2013 be agreed as a correct record.

 

Minute 35: Sheila McKeand to respond to the Minister for Children with reference to the Bracknell Forest Care Leavers’ Charter.

5.

Panel Announcements

Minutes:

It was suggested that examples of the credit size pledge cards be sent to all 42 Members in the Council.

(Action: Sarah Roberts/ Amanda Roden)

 

An invite to the Annual Achievement Awards on 2 September 2013 would be circulated to Panel Members.

(Action: Sheila McKeand/ Amanda Roden)

 

The dates for the summer Looked After Children Programme would be circulated to Panel Members.

(Action: Sheila McKeand/ Amanda Roden)

 

In May, ‘Do You Know?’ training was delivered by looked after children to the Children’s Social Care participation advocates, including Councillor Mrs McCracken, who reported that it was very useful. The training was for staff, Councillors and foster carers to help gain an understanding of what the young people experience as looked after children.

 

A visit to Larchwood would be arranged to undertake a Regulation 33 Visit. Councillors Mrs McCracken, Heydon and Mrs Birch were interested in attending.

(Action: Sheila McKeand)

6.

Terms of Reference of Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Sheila McKeand, Head of Service Looked After Children will present a report for the Panel to consider and adopt revised Terms of Reference.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sheila McKeand, Head of Service for Looked After Children presented a report on the proposed revised Terms of Reference for the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel.

 

The Terms of Reference were last reviewed and revised in 2010 and it was agreed that they be reviewed and updated to reflect the current monitoring and support role of the Panel. Research had been undertaken into what other local authorities did in this area.

 

The Panel queried what the position was in relation to missing looked after children in Bracknell Forest. This was a national issue but there was no major issue currently in Bracknell Forest. A report on missing looked after children from a local perspective would be brought to the next meeting of the Panel in September.

(Action: Sheila McKeand)

 

The Panel queried what steps were being taken to prevent children from being looked after. A report on the Edge of Care Panel would be brought to the next meeting of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel.

(Action: Sheila McKeand)

 

Panel Members queried 6.1 of the Terms of Reference regarding membership of the Panel: ‘Members of the Panel will be required to attend appropriate training and be subject to a check by the Vetting and Barring Scheme’. It would be investigated whether Disclosure and Barring Service checks were needed for Corporate Parenting Advisory Panel Members.

(Action: Amanda Roden)

 

It was suggested that the ‘Do You Know?’ training be delivered to CPAP and CSMT as the annual CPAP training session in autumn 2013.

(Action: Sarah Roberts)

 

It was suggested that all Members of the Council receive training in relation to looked after children and corporate parenting.

(Action: Peter Heydon)

 

The Panel agreed the revised Terms of Reference and agreed that the Terms of Reference would be reviewed every three years.

7.

Looked After Children's Commissioning Strategy pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Sheila McKeand, Head of Service Looked After Children will give a presentation on the Looked After Children’s Commissioning Strategy for Panel Discussion.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sheila McKeand, Head of Service for Looked After Children presented a report on the Commissioning Strategy for Looked After Children 2013-2015 for discussion.

 

The report was due to be considered by the Executive Member for Children, Young People and Learning in July 2013. The Panel’s attention was drawn to the challenges and service gaps identified locally in relation to foster care, adoption and permanence, remand beds, health and wellbeing, promoting better outcomes, and care leavers.

 

The Strategy was based on contributions from a number of different services. The vision was for looked after children to have the same opportunities as other children. Sometimes looked after children had specific issues but there was a strong service with good quality care provided. Many changes had taken place due to changes in legislation.

 

The number of children becoming looked after had increased significantly over the past two years and, despite recruitment, more foster carers were required, along with support and training for foster carers. Areas had been identified for development. In relation to potentially vulnerable adults, one action in the Strategy was to develop a strategy for transition planning for young people who did not readily meet Adult Services’ criteria. Discussions were being held with Adult Services regarding this. Eligible looked after children received support from the Leaving Care service up to  the age of 21 and in some situations up to 25 years.

 

The Panel raised queries regarding; the number of looked after children currently in residential school placements; why the percentage of looked after children who missed at least 25 days schooling in 2009-10 showed as ‘not applicable’ in the Strategy under 5.9 Educational Attainment; and what ‘any other White background’ referred to in relation to ethnicity. These points would be investigated and the final document amended accordingly.

(Action Sheila McKeand)

 

A summary of the school census breakdown for Bracknell Forest Schools would be provided.

(Action: Sheila McKeand/ Sandra Davies)

 

The Panel offered their congratulations on a good report.

8.

Independent Reviewing Officer's Annual Report pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Liz McAuley, Team Manager Conference and Review will give a presentation on the Independent Reviewing Officer’s Annual Report for Panel Discussion.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sandra Davies, Head of Performance Management and Governance, presented a report on the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Service: Annual Report.

 

The IRO Service performed a key role in assuring the quality of the local authority’s care planning for children who were looked after. The annual report supported the continuing development and review of the local strategy for Children’s Services.

 

The IRO Service had grown over the last two years and now consisted of a Team Manager, one full-time IRO, one part-time IRO, and administrative support. The full-time IRO currently held 75 cases, and the part-time IRO currently held 28 cases in addition to chairing a small number of Child Protection Conferences.

 

The total number of looked after children at the end of March 2013 was 103, which was a slight increase on March 2012 when there were 100. Each IRO had a designated caseload and was responsible for ensuring the child’s review was undertaken within timescales. Performance was good in this area with 98% of reviews undertaken within timescales and good reasons for the two which were slightly out of timescale.

 

Young People were encouraged to chair their own reviews, and a disabled child had used a DVD to demonstrate their life to the IRO. IROs made every effort to speak to parents. The IRO Service had continued to work with the Child Participation and Development Officer to encourage children and young people to develop skills to enable them to share their views regarding their care arrangements.

 

The IRO Service reported quarterly to Children’s Social Care and undertook performance monitoring in areas of permanency planning, permanence through adoption or special guardianship, pathway planning, Youth Offending Service (YOS) involvement in LAC reviews, general health and wellbeing of looked after children, personal education plans, and short break reviews.

 

IROs aimed to network to understand changes to their service; there was a Berkshire network and a South East network. There was a formal dispute resolution process within each local authority and an IRO had the right to refer a matter to CAFCASS at any point during a dispute; however this had not happened in Bracknell Forest as yet.

 

There had been examples of good practice but there were also many challenges in the year ahead. Key actions for the IRO Service in 2013-14 were listed at 6.12 of the report.

9.

Chief Officer's Response to IRO Report pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Lorna Hunt, Chief Officer Children’s Social Care will give a response to the Independent Reviewing Officer’s Annual Report.

Minutes:

Lorna Hunt, Chief Officer: Children’s Social Care gave a response from the Council to the IRO Service Annual Report April 2012 – March 2013.

 

It was a positive report and, whilst there was a slight increase in the number of children and young people coming into care during the year, there was a turnover of looked after children of just under 50% of the total cohort. The demographic of the population had changed with more younger children in care. The Council was also very pleased with the increase in the number of care leavers with pathway plans in place. The Chief Officer drew attention to the work of the Life Chances Team, and the independence of the IRO Service.

 

There were practice issues in relation to care planning, timeliness of reports, life story work, and delay in school placements. The Council was always looking for ways to improve and welcomed comments on good practice.

 

The increase in workload was the main challenge at present as cases were time consuming and there was an increase in court work. Caseloads were monitored by the team managers but just one person with a full caseload suddenly being off work due to sickness or leaving the department, could put much pressure on the department. Workload pressures would be considered during budget rounds to look at posts needed.

 

Another challenge was the many changes coming into force at once such as the Justice Review whereby care proceedings would be a maximum of six months and more needed to be done by the Local Authority in the pre-proceeding stage. Also, there were changes to the way that adoption and fostering assessment were to be undertaken.

10.

Independent Reviewing Officers: Taking up the Challenge. Ofsted Thematic Inspection of the Work of IROs. June 2013 pdf icon PDF 561 KB

The attached report evaluates the effectiveness of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) in discharging their responsibilities towards looked after children, and is for the Panel to note.

Minutes:

The Panel noted the Independent Reviewing Officers: Taking up the Challenge, Ofsted Thematic Inspection of the Work of IROs, June 2013. A report benchmarking Bracknell Forest against this Thematic Inspection would be brought to the next Panel meeting.

(Action Sandra Davies)

11.

Corporate Parenting and the Voice of the Child in Care pdf icon PDF 939 KB

The attached letter from Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, written to all directors of Children's Services and Lead Members about the importance of strong corporate parenting, is for the Panel to note.

Minutes:

The Panel noted the letter from Edward Timpson MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, about the importance of strong corporate parenting.

12.

Fostering Statement of Purpose and Annual Report pdf icon PDF 57 KB

The Bracknell Forest Foster Care Service Annual Report 2012–13 and the Statement of Purpose for the Fostering Service 2013–2014 to be presented to the Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Helen Fenton, Team Manager, Family Placement Team, presented a report on the Bracknell Forest Foster Care Service Annual Report 2012–13 and the Statement of Purpose for the Fostering Service 2013–2014.

 

Revised National Minimum Standards and Guidance and Regulations of the Children Act 1989 Fostering Services came into effect on 1 April 2011. Policies and procedures had been updated to include the changes required and implementation of the new requirements was in process, all of which could be met from within existing resources.

 

The Family Placement Team dealt with a range of services not just related to fostering and adoption and made good use of resources. They had an active recruitment campaign and the foster carers worked well as a team helping each other out with, for example, school runs when needed. 32 people to date this year had expressed an interest in becoming foster carers.

 

Nationally approximately 5% of people became foster carers after first enquiring but in Bracknell Forest this ‘conversion’ rate was around 14% indicating that the focus of recruitment was good. The challenges for the Family Placement team included managing varied and complex needs and different types of assessments, including connected persons that had to be completed within the court timescales. The team had completed 35 complex assessments in the last financial year.

 

Between September 2012 and January 2013, some experienced social work staff had been recruited and this had a positive impact. There was a telephone out of hours service offered to foster carers until 11pm every night; this responsibility was shared amongst the team members.

 

In the future Ofsted were proposing a single inspection which would look at Fostering, Adoption and Looked After Children as well as Safeguarding.

 

The Life Chances Team was a ‘virtual’ team set up in October 2011 consisting of representatives from all the professional teams and services who worked with Bracknell Forest’s looked after children, and had provided co-ordinated support for foster carers.

13.

Adoption Statement of Purpose and Annual Report pdf icon PDF 56 KB

The Bracknell Forest Adoption Agency Annual Report 2012–2013 and the Statement of Purpose for the Adoption Service 2013–2014 to be presented to the Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the Bracknell Forest Adoption Agency Annual Report 2012–2013 and the Statement of Purpose for the Adoption Service 2013–2014.

 

With regard to the Adoption reform initiative, work was being undertaken with colleagues in neighbouring authorities to develop a Berkshire adoption service. The six local authorities in Berkshire would work in the same way and the challenge over the next year would be how to work together.

 

The panel noted that the first ‘fostering to adopt’ placement was being considered by the Foster Panel soon, and there was good news regarding recent suitable matches made for children over the age of one and with disabilities. These children were more difficult to place and had therefore waited longer for matches, but the team anticipated very positive outcomes.

14.

Exclusion of Public and Press

To consider the following motion:

 

That pursuant to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, and having regard to the public interest, members of the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the consideration of the following item which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information under the following category of Schedule 12A of that Act:

 

(1)        Information relating to any individual   (Item 17).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that pursuant to Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, and having regard to the public interest, members of the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the consideration of the following item which involves the likely disclosure of exempt information under the following category of Schedule 12A of that Act:

 

(1)        Information relating to any individual   (Item 15).

15.

Performance Management Information

Lorna Hunt, Chief Officer Children’s Social Care will present the latest performance management information.

Minutes:

The Panel considered the latest performance management information.

 

Five children had been placed with adoptive families after going through the process and some good matches had been made. The number of children placed with in-house foster-carers had increased. The number of health assessments overdue was at zero which was good. There had been recording issue regarding dental checks but now that this had been resolved it showed that performance was good in this area.

 

Assessment of the emotional and behavioural health of looked after children was measured through a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire which was completed by carers. This has limited value but was used to ensure that carers who needed assistance were provided with appropriate support.

 

Performance information regarding care leavers in suitable accommodation was clarified and young people aged 20 and 21 years had been included in this data from April 2013. The service was aware of its strengths and challenges and worked hard; staff aimed for good outcomes for children.

 

The Panel noted the increase in children who had become looked after through the courts and the implication of the Family Justice Review (FJR). A report on the impact of the FJR would be presented to the next Panel by Mairead Panetta and Clare Owen.

                                                                                           (Action: Sarah Roberts)

 

The Chair requested that the Executive Member mention looked after children at the next full Council meeting. The Panel expressed it’s appreciation of the work of the social work teams in Children’s Social Care and acknowledgement of the hard work of all in seeking to maintain high standards of care for vulnerable children.

16.

Dates of Next Meetings and Forward Plan

25 September 2013    Health of LAC Annual Report

                                    Educational Achievements and Destinations of LAC

Review of services against the recommendations in the Ofsted

IRO Thematic Inspection Report

Larchwood Statement of Purpose and Annual Report

                                    Regulation 33 Visits

18 December 2013     Adoption Six Month Report

                                    Children in Care Council Annual Report

Bracknell Forest Council’s Pledge to Looked After Children and Participation Standards

26 March 2014            Regulation 33 Visits

                                    Participation Strategy Annual Review

Minutes:

25 September 2013                Health of LAC Annual Report

                                          Educational Achievements and Destinations of LAC

Review of services against the recommendations in the Ofsted IRO Thematic Inspection Report

Larchwood Statement of Purpose and Annual Report

                                          Regulation 33 Visits

Family Justice Review

                                          Missing Looked After Children in Bracknell Forest

                                          Edge of Care Panel Report

 

18 December 2013                 Adoption Six Month Report

                                          Children in Care Council Annual Report

Bracknell Forest Council’s Pledge to Looked After Children and Participation Standards

 

26 March 2013                        Regulation 33 Visits

                                                Participation Strategy Annual Review