Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Christine Rothwell  Senior Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

16.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jane Cox and Susan Durrant.  Apologies were also from received from the Panel’s Co-optees John Hoare (Diocese of Sheffield Church of England) and Bernadette Nesbit (Diocese of Hallam Roman Catholic Church).

 

17.

To consider the extent, if any, to which the public and press are to be excluded from the meeting.

Minutes:

None.

18.

Declarations of Interest, if any.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

 

19.

Minutes of the meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel held on 5th September, 2019 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on the 5th September 2019 were agreed as a correct record.

 

20.

Public Statements

(A period not exceeding 20 minutes for statements from up to 5 members of the public on matters within the Panel’s remit, proposing action(s) which may be considered or contribute towards the future development of the Panel’s work programme).

Minutes:

There were no public statements made.

 

21.

Doncaster's Children's Safeguarding Board Annual Report 2018-2019 pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received the Doncaster's Children's Safeguarding Board Annual Report 2018-2019, providing detailed information on the effectiveness of children’s safeguarding arrangements in Doncaster.  The report outlined details of the Board’s activities, a statement about the position of safeguarding in Doncaster and the progress made against its four strategic priorities as a multi-agency partnership in delivering its Business Plan.

 

It was explained that the new local arrangements had replaced the Doncaster’s Local Safeguarding Children Board with the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Partnership (DSCP) was published in June 2019.  It was continued that although the partnership had an Independent Chair they had retained the services of Dr John Woodhouse in the role of an Independent Convenor.

 

Members heard how the Children and Social Work Act 2017 had designated the Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, South Yorkshire Police and Doncaster Council with Doncaster Children’s Services Trust as ‘safeguarding partners’ for Doncaster Borough, and were accountable for the effectiveness of the local arrangements to keep children safe.

 

It was explained that the report reflected certain challenges facing Doncaster, for example;

 

·         High levels of deprivation in some areas of the Borough; and

·         Unevenly spread child poverty rates that were high across the borough.

 

It was viewed that although there was no direct course from deprivation and poverty into abuse and neglect, it was likely that there was a strong correlation across factors.

 

Members were informed that the report showed a steady decline in the number and length of child protection plan and more recently a decline in the number of children in care demonstrating trends running counter to the national trend.  It was stated that the underlying reductions might have been due to more effective and focused interventions and support where there were concerns of risk within families. 

 

Child Protection Conferences - It was reported that the participation of children and young people in Child Protection Conferences was significantly higher in Doncaster, which was partially due to the promotion of advocacy to allow children’s voices to be heard.  Members were also informed that there had been a higher level of parental participation (92% mothers and 71% fathers).

 

Communications – In terms of methods of communication, Members were told about the DCSP’s Safeguarding Practitioner Forum which met quarterly, a successful annual conference and a new Doncaster Safeguarding Children Partnership’s website.

 

Emerging issues – It was noted that emerging issues included contextual and online safeguarding as well as criminal exploitation.

 

There was a discussion held and the following issues were raised;

 

Obesity Levels in Doncaster – A Member raised concern that levels of obesity in Doncaster were high and enquired how it compared with national comparators.  It was clarified that Doncaster’s performance was above average for England and the national average.  The Principal Social Worker commented that this had been an area of challenge for Social Workers and guidance had been used from a Serious Case Review with a view to introducing small sections into procedures providing advice and guidance around when this issue was or was not a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Future Placements Strategy for Children pdf icon PDF 250 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report on the Future Placement Strategy prior to its consideration by Cabinet on 17th December 2019. The report set out the background of the current provision for Children in Care in-house residential homes, those families who receive an overnight Short Breaks service and the offer for young people leaving care, to stay with their foster carers when they become 18 years old. The information provided the wider context around foster care provision and semi-independent living arrangements for young people leaving care.

 

The Panel was provided with an outline from the Acting Assistant Director of Learning and Opportunities (Children and Young People) and the Director of Children’s Social Care on the background and proposals contained in the report being presented to Cabinet on the 17th December 2019.

 

There was a discussion held and the following issues were raised;

 

Children with Disabilities – Members were informed that families had expressed a preference for their children to be placed with an extended family model and it was often found that residential homes with 10 beds were impersonal. Reference was made to the successful Mockingbird Family Model.

 

‘Staying Put’ – It was explained that ‘Staying-Put’ was an arrangement where young people remained with their foster carers following their 18th birthday (although it no longer would be classed as ‘fostering’).  It was reported that the current ‘Staying Put’ Rate was too low and therefore not competitive enough.  As a result, a proposal has been put forward  to implement a new financial framework of £250 per week.  It was noted that the ‘Staying Put’ arrangement offered a range of improved outcomes and good benefits that included keeping Doncaster children close to home, allowing children to thrive, to maintain friendships as well as positive financial implications.  Members were informed that there was partnership working in hand and a commitment to consult with those currently using services and around services.

 

Fostering Placements – Members were informed that this was an ongoing recruitment campaign of foster carers through various marketing  for example, Twitter and Facebook.  It was reported that there had been an increase during the last quarter, demonstrating a continuing pattern of recruitment and providing assurances that Doncaster Council was moving in the right direction.

 

Location of Children’s Homes – Concern was raised around local pressures in relation to the location of children’s homes.  It was considered important to consider the various needs involved so that appropriate solutions could be found.  It was clarified that when residential properties were purchased to be converted into children’s homes, efforts were being made to involve colleagues from the Trust to manage that process better.   It was noted that there was the facility to object through the appropriate process.

 

A Member referred to a recent Corporate Parenting Board meeting where a point had been made that the location of children’s homes needed to be right.  In terms of consulting on the location of a new children’s home, it was explained that engagement took place with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Youth Update pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Minutes:

The Panel was provided with an update from the Head of Engagement and Partnerships on the Youth Strategy and EXPECT Youth.  The presentation provided covered the following areas;

 

·         Background

·         National Policy

·         Current Youth Offer

·         Local Policy and Plans

·         A Child Friendly Doncaster

·         The Proposed Youth Strategy

·         How will the strategy be delivered

·         Governance Arrangements

·         Next Steps

 

There was a discussion held and the following issues were raised;

 

Impact of Expect Youth – It was explained that an annual report would be made available in January 2020 and that monitoring would be undertaken on a monthly basis to assess the impact delivered against the core grant.  Members were told that in terms of quality conditions that worked with quality groups who held a quality mark.  It was added that there was also a framework in place that measured outcomes.

 

A Member raised their concern around what was being offered as part of the Summer timetable. A further comment made was the observation that Expect Youth were mostly engaging with young children (rather than teenage age) and that more could be achieved with volunteers.

 

Regarding an underspend shown in the report, it was explained that this was an error and that the grant would be fully spent by the end of March 2020.  Members heard that a significant amount of money had been allocated to Early Years to deliver a Summer Programme.  It was explained that the role of Early Years was to convene but not co-ordinate to ensure that there was an offer on a daily basis.  It was outlined that as a Council we needed to consider how we convened Early Years within a wider Youth Strategy. It was recognised that that professional youth work was critical and that more work needed to be undertaken around what targeted work actually looks like.

 

EPIC – It was noted that the work being undertaken by EPIC, although highly effective was only one element prevention in youth crime.  It was explained that it needed to be expanded in a different way so that it was not used as a panacea for everything whilst at the same time retaining what it had to offer.

 

Youth Strategy - Members were informed that the Youth Strategy would be made available early 2020.  It was requested that the prior to the strategy being considered by Cabinet in February 2020, that an extraordinary Panel meeting be held for it to be considered through overview and scrutiny.

 

Engagement – Members were informed that as part of the governance arrangements, attendance to ward meetings (to look the current picture and what would like to be done) needed further strengthening as at present this was not consistent. 

 

RESOLVED that;

 

  1. the report be noted; and
  2. that an extraordinary meeting of the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Panel be held to consider the Youth Strategy prior to Cabinet in February 2020.

 

24.

Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan and the Council's Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 558 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Governance Officer presented the 2019/20 Scrutiny Work Plan for consideration and reminded Members of the current Forward Plan of key decisions.

 

There was a brief discussion around future items for the Overview and Scrutiny workplan following the meeting’s discussions and the following was agreed;

 

·         Youth Strategy – an extraordinary meeting be arranged prior to the strategy going to Cabinet in February 2020.

·         Education and Skills – an update be provided the Panel’s meeting in March 2020

·         Big Picture Learning – it was suggested that this could be considered by the Panel at a session in March 2020. 

·         Suicide Prevention (lessons learnt for children and young people) – to be rearranged for early 2020.

·         Elective Home Education – will need further consideration

 

RESOLVED that the Panel note the Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan 2019/20 and Forward Plan of key decisions and above agreed points be actioned.