Agenda and minutes

Surrey Corporate Parenting Board
Monday, 9 July 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Member Conference Room, County Hall, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames KT1 2DN

Contact: Joss Butler, Email:  0208 541 9702

No. Item





    To agree the minutes as a true record of the meeting.


    The minutes of the last meeting were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.


    Members queried the actions tracking process following the restructure of the Committee. It was noted that previously agreed actions would be put on hold and that a process would be agreed at the next meeting. 






    Belinda Newth, Head of Quality & Experience

    Dave Hill, Director of Children’s Services


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.     The Chairman welcomed members and highlighted that this was the first meeting of the restructured Corporate Parenting Board. It was noted that the Board’s review had reduced the membership and that members would now undertake more of the Board’s work between meetings. Any operational items would fall under the Corporate Parenting Operational Group’s (CPOG) remit.



    To hear from all Members about how they have found meeting with buddies and how reading lists helped them “get to know our system”.  To learn what worked for Board Members and what did not to improve our approach.        





    Belinda Newth, Head of Quality & Experience

    Dave Hill, Director of Children’s Services


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.     The Chairman invited Members to provide feedback on their initial practice conversations. Members stated that they welcomed the conversations and felt positive to have the opportunity to be constructive and challenge evidence.

    2.     A member highlighted that there was some confusion around what they should have gained from the initial conversations. Officers explained that it was to gain an overall insight on the service and get a better understanding. Future conversations would then include a theme to better structure discussions.

    3.     Members appreciated the opportunity to speak with practitioners using skype and other long-distance software as this was more compatible with their schedules. 

    4.     Some Members felt that practitioners were being defensive in their discussions and could have been more relaxed. Members affirmed to officers that they hoped to have an open discussion as they were only there to help and make a positive difference.

    5.     Members noted that there were still no improvement with health checks for children in care and asked the Director of Children’s Services to report to the next meeting with an update.


    Actions / Further information:


     Action Ref: A4/18 - That the Director of Children’s Services report to the next meeting with an update on health checks for children in care.



    Update to include key service developments / changes, notifications and incidents.





    Belinda Newth, Head of Quality & Experience

    Dave Hill, Director of Children’s Services


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.     The Director of Children’s Services (DCS) provided the Board with an update on the Children’s Service. He made the following comments:

    ·        That Central Government had appointed a commissioner to oversee improvements in the service. Trevor Doughty, currently Strategy Director for Children, Schools and Families at Cornwall County Council, would spend three months observing Children’s Services to write a report for the Secretary of State for Education. The DCS suggested that the commissioner may want to attend a future meeting of the Corporate Parenting Board.

    ·        That he had been meeting with young people and foster carers in the County to hear their comments

    ·        That the Council needed to be prepared to speak to other County Councils to share experience and lessons learned.

    ·        That more foster carers were needed to meet the needs of children.

    ·        That he aimed to steer away from ‘Countywide Services’ in order to concentrate on the four quadrants of Surrey.

    ·        That ‘The Mockingbird Programme’ was being considered for Surrey County Council. The programme was said to use a community based approach and put foster carers at the heart of recruitment.

    ·        That the average percentage of children placed out of county in England was 15%. Surrey’s average percentage of children placed out of county was noted to be almost 50%.

    ·        That foster carers should be treated fairly and professionally

    ·        That there was a need for more Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision.

    ·        That Ofsted will be conducting monitoring visits every three months in order to monitor improvements. Each visit would follow a theme with the first being the theme of child protection.

    ·        That he wanted Surrey officers to be experts in its own services. 

    2.     Members had a short discussion around comments in the recent Ofsted report where it was asked if any children’s cases would be checked randomly for performance. The DCS stated that he would be bringing a team of auditors to work with managers and social workers to look over around 1/3 of all cases to observe and find examples of good practice 

    3.     The DCS explained that the Council needed to invest heavily in family resilience services and that he would be working with Borough & Districts to find the best way forward.

    4.     A Member asked if there were criteria in place for a case to be considered a serious incident. The DCS stated that there was not a current criteria but it was something he believed would be helpful.




    To hear from and discuss with Cllr Madden his experience of corporate parenting in Essex, what is working well, what could be better and what advice he can offer Surrey Corporate Parenting Board.  There will be an opportunity to test ideas and thinking.





    Belinda Newth, Head of Quality & Experience

    Dave Hill, Director of Children’s Services


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.     The Chairman welcoming Cllr Madden to the meeting and explained that he had been invited to share his experience of corporate parenting while working at Essex County Council.

    2.     Cllr Madden raised the following topics:

    ·        That in 2011, Essex County Council (ECC) had received its third intervention by Ofsted.

    ·        That the ECC Corporate Parenting Board Membership included County & Borough/District Councillors, Education officers, Health officers and Policy officers.

    ·        That measuring the performance of the key aspects of Children’s Services is critical.

    ·        That the ECC Corporate Parenting Board worked with their Insight & Analysis team and children in care to collate relevant data for the Board.

    ·        Highlighted Surrey County Council’s positive work with the apprentice scheme.

    ·        That it was essential for all County Councillors to understand their role and responsibilities as corporate parents.

    ·        That there was still improvements to be made after ECC Children’s Services was rated outstanding.

    ·        That the Local Government Association (LGA) was able to provide various helpful documents to benchmark improvements. An LGA Parenting Resource Pack had been previously circulated to Board members.

    ·        That it was key to communicate with children placed out of county.

    ·        Highlighted that a newsletter could be useful to inform Members of current improvements.

    3.     The Director of Children’s Services highlighted that although Surrey was 20% smaller, Surrey County Council’s funding for Children’s Services was twice the amount of Essex Council. It was said that this was due to Essex’s investment in early intervention.

    4.     The Board discussed the ongoing proposed change programme for children’s centres.

    5.     The importance of including the voice of the child was discussed where it was highlighted that the Care Council would have an open invitation to the Surrey Corporate Parenting Board. Members noted that some children in care can find it difficult to be heard due to their location in and out of the County.

    6.     The Board discussed the needs for those leaving care and the issues they faced when placed out of county.






    Members of the Board have decided to undertake an audit of services offered to looked after children and care leavers in Surrey (both the County Council and Partners). For example, free leisure centre access and music lessons so that we may develop a clear and widely understood “Surrey offer”.  A discussion to take place and agreement reached to scope and resource this work.



    Members agreed that a plan to develop the Surrey offer would be developed and for a verbal update to be given at the September meeting of the Board.




    A discussion and agreement on themes for forth coming meetings, including how decisions to invite others are dealt with.





    Belinda Newth, Head of Quality & Experience

    Dave Hill, Director of Children’s Services


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.     Members agreed that the theme of the next meeting would be ‘Children placed out of county with a focus on stability’.

    2.     Officer confirmed that they were working towards a plan to outline the themes of each meeting for the next 6 – 9 months.

    3.     During a discussion it was noted that work needed to be done to outline the relationship between the Corporate Parenting Board and the Corporate Parenting Operation Group. Officers highlighted that the Director of Children’s Services would be the connection between the Board and officers in the service.

    4.     It was agreed that the Fostering Carers Handbook would be circulated to members of the board outside the meeting.


    Actions / Further information:


    Action Ref: A5/18 - For the Foster Carers Handbook to be circulated to members of the Board outside the meeting.