Agenda and minutes

Additional Meeting, Surrey Corporate Parenting Board - Monday, 4 July 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: Remote

Contact: Racheal Ireton / Amelia Christopher  Corporate Parenting Project Manager, Surrey County Council / Committee Manager, Surrey County Council

Items
No. Item

12/22-23

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

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    Minutes:

    ·         The Chairman welcomed all to the additional meeting to cover the annual reports.

    ·         A Member queried why the reports were being dealt with privately by the Board rather than going to a public meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture (CFLLC) Select Committee.

    -       In response, the Chairman explained that the Corporate Parenting Annual Report Regarding Looked After Children was an agenda item at the upcoming meeting of the CFLLC Select Committee.

    -       The Committee Manager, Democratic Services responded that as usual the Board’s reports were not published in the public domain, only the minutes would be; she asked whether the reports would be published online in another capacity following the meeting.

    -       The Director for Corporate Parenting noted that Items 3 and 4 for example were written in more detail than suitable for the public domain whereas Item 2 could potentially be shared in its current form, she explained that unlike the Board’s Annual Report, the separate annual reports had not traditionally gone to the CFLLC Select Committee but could do if requested by its Chairman.

    -       The Chairman would liaise with the Chairman of the CFLLC Select Committee on sharing the annual reports with Select Committee members, under Part 2 where necessary.

    -       A Member asked for the Fostering Service Annual Report 2021 - 2022 to be made available to CFLLC Select Committee, as fostering was a key element of sufficiency.

    -       The Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning explained that the Board meets privately as that enables the Board to discuss children and young people's lives in more detail than would be appropriate to cover in the public domain. In principle there would be no difficulty in sharing any of the reports however some of those might need to be rewritten if they were to go into the public domain to remove some sensitive information, such as replacing the names of the children’s homes with the Unique Reference Numbers (URN).

     

    Actions/further information to be provided:

     

    1.      The Chairman will liaise with the Chairman of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture (CFLLC) Select Committee on sharing the annual reports with the Select Committee members - particularly the Children's Homes Annual Report 2021-2022 and potentially the Fostering Service Annual Report 2021 – 2022, under Part 2 where necessary.

     

13/22-23

FOSTERING SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT 2021 - 2022

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    This report provides an overview of the work of Surrey County Council’s Fostering Service during 2021/2022 and highlights the quality of practice, the output of the service and innovations planned to strengthen and enable the service to build on current achievements.

     

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

Carol Norrington Beard - General Fostering Service Manager, Fostering Service

Sharon Lake - Service Manager, Fostering Service

 

Key points raised during the discussion

 

1.    The General Fostering Service Manager noted that:

·      The Fostering Service had been incredibly busy over the past twelve months, foster carers worked hard throughout the pandemic and were exhausted.

·      It was good to go back to having in person social events with foster carers.

·      The data in the report was positive, with more children being cared for by Surrey’s foster carers this year than compared to last year.

·      Recruitment was a challenge, which was reflected nationally.

·      There was an aging population of foster carers too, work was underway in Surrey on how to retain the foster carers and recruit new carers. 

·      The Fostering Service was working hard to progress the actions from November’s peer review.

2.    The Service Manager noted that:

·      The Fostering Service was continuing to work with organisations that were working with several other local authorities, providing Surrey with the national context and trends.

·      The Fostering Service was building on some of the effective strategies that it had used previously prior to Covid-19 such as having more social contact and being able to be more visible, combining with virtual ways of working.

3.    A Member asked what the targets, actions and the timescales were to address the outcomes and recommendations of the peer review conducted in November; she understood that there needed to be substantial work done to address each of the five key priorities.

-       In response, the General Fostering Service Manager noted that progress was being made, it was hoped that some workstreams would be implemented in July and the next few months. The Fostering Service met with the Foster Carers Association (FCA) at least monthly where progress updates were provided - on communications for example. A retention board had been established, working with the User Voice and Participation (UVP) team and systems development to look at how foster carers are communicated with. Another suggestion from the peer review was looking at how the Fostering Service is supported to ensure that it could focus on its fostering task. Following a period of consultation, the new process was launched today whereby social workers would focus on supervising foster carers, reducing their duty demands; the new process would be reviewed around December.

-       The Chairman noted that the Board at its last meeting went through the action plan for the Fostering Service in detail; she would look to share the agenda from the last meeting with the Member.

-       The Member added that she had read the minutes but that some of the narrative did not link with this agenda item.

-       The Assistant Director for Children’s Resources provided reassurance noting that the Fostering Service had been successful in a transformation bid to receive project management support in the implementation of the peer review, which would provide pace and rigour to that work.

4.    A Member asked whether the peer review could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13/22-23

14/22-23

CHILDREN'S HOMES ANNUAL REPORT 2021-2022

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    To provide an update to the Board as to the progress of children, activities and the overall environment of our children’s homes. 

     

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

Jo Rabbitte - Assistant Director for Children’s Resources

 

Key points raised during the discussion

 

1.    The Assistant Director for Children’s Resources noted that:

·         The service was emerging from Covid-19 and was now back in the usual inspection regime.

·         The most important event last year was getting agreement for the transformation of the children's homes, which was agreed by Cabinet in November 2021. Implementing the transformation began with the restructure of the children's homes starting in January 2022.

·         There had been considerable progress on the capital development programme and two of the children's homes were well under construction.

·         The biggest challenge that the service is facing is in terms of the workforce development piece. A recruitment strategy was being developed which would provide a steady stream of new recruits into the service to meet the need for an increased capacity that was outlined in the transformation and also the need for additional staff as the new homes open.

·         The service was working on the development of a quality assurance and performance framework for the children's homes, important for senior leaders to be able to have a clear line of sight across the service to ensure that it was compliant and to spot any areas of concern. The transformation bid had been successful to get some project management capacity.

2.    A Member asked about the regulation 44 visits which were carried out by an independent body but that would be changing and he asked what the reason was for the change and why those were not carried out in house.

-       The Assistant Director for Children’s Resources explained that the regulation 44 visits - to be carried out independently - were required by the regulations. In Surrey those visits were commissioned externally through a competitive process. The provider that had been contracted was not delivering those visits to the standard that was required, as a result the contract had been reprovisioned to a new provider.

3.    The Member referred to the capital programme and noted that he did not believe that it had been covered in the transformation plans that had been discussed at the CFLLC Select Committee previously. He sought detail on whether the wider plan was to replace the children's homes lost such as URN: SC040628 and URN: SC040638, the two in the pipeline would suggest an increase in the number of children’s homes. If there was a planned increase, he asked how that linked with the plans to achieve sufficiency within Surrey and whether there was a high-level strategy for that.

-       The Assistant Director for Children’s Resources explained that the service was three or four years into the capital development programme. The initial phase of the programme was to replace the old homes and to build purpose built modern and properly designed homes that look and have the feel of an ordinary family home whilst being designed to support young people's behaviour; designing out difficulties. The home in Epsom is a direct replacement for URN: SC040628. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14/22-23

15/22-23

NO WRONG DOOR SERVICE UPDATE

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    To provide an update to the Board on implementation of the model in Surrey including service developments, challenges, achievements during the year, forward plans and recommendations.

     

    Minutes:

    Witnesses:

    Fiona Mackirdy - External Project Manager, Children’s Resources

    Key points raised during the discussion

     

    1.    The External Project Manager noted that:

    ·         They were nearly six months into the No Wrong Door model way of working going live, there had been positive feedback on the work underway with young people in terms of preventing a number of those young people becoming looked after, working with young people who have remained in their family home and those who have come to live in the hub.

    ·         There was ongoing development of the multi-agency support to young people working closely with the police; and working creatively to meet the needs of those children and to have an influence in their wider networks. A psychotherapist would shortly be onboarded and they would act as a life coach, providing flexible support to young people, families and to carers.

    ·         Following a self-assessment, the upcoming first official accreditation visit from North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) in early August would be an opportunity to review how the model was performing.

    ·         Planning was underway to get the second hub to come online and to look at practical things around recruiting the team and undertaking team training, building on the experience of the first hub.

    ·         An area where things had not progressed as hoped was around the strategic influence of the model on the wider system, the operational board had been reviewed to ensure that there were the right people and there were ongoing discussions with colleagues involved in the safeguarding adolescent space to ensure robust strategic governance.

    2.    A Member asked what the issue around strategic governance was which might inhibit the accreditation from NYCC. She noted that her impression from reading the report was that there is an issue with ensuring that the right people participate in the model. 

    -       In response, the External Project Manager explained that the No Wrong Door model was a whole system approach rather than a service that professionals simply refer to. The model was underpinned by the four provocations and non-negotiables. The model came to fruition at a time of immense change for Surrey and part of that was developing how Surrey would deliver and respond to the needs of the wider adolescent group, the No Wrong Door work fitted well with the emerging Safeguarding Adolescents Service. There had been some personnel changes and feedback from partners on how that Service would work and getting the safeguarding adolescent board operational.

    -       The Executive Director of Children, Families and Lifelong Learning recognised that one of the strategic governance issues when embedding any of the practice models - such as the No Wrong Door model - was when there is turbulence in the workforce around recruitment and retention.

     

    Denise Turner-Stewart joined the meeting at 3.19 pm.

     

    It was notable that NYCC implemented the No Wrong Door model in conditions where they were at or around the outstanding rating. She welcomed the engagement by partners such as the police. She noted that the Safeguarding Adolescents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15/22-23

16/22-23

INDEPENDENT REVIEWING SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT 2021-2022

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    This report produced by the Independent Reviewing Service is prepared in accordance with the statutory requirement to inform the Corporate Parenting Board and senior leaders about the Council’s performance in respect of children in the care of the local authority. The report covers the reporting period April 2021 to March 2022. 

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

Linde Webber - Service Manager (Interim), Quality Assurance

 

Key points raised during the discussion

 

1.    The Service Manager (Interim) noted that:

·         Last year had been an extremely busy year, the Independent Reviewing Service (IRS) completed around 3,000 reviews for Surrey’s children in care and the numbers of Looked After Children had remained extremely high.

·         The service had been able to maintain its capacity of 30 full time equivalent Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and Child Protection Chairs. The service had managed to reduce its reliance on some agency staff, of the 30 full time equivalent staff there were now only 3.6 full time equivalent staff from agencies and that provided consistency in care.

·         The service has had the need to raise alerts where it felt that there had been a shortfall within some of their care plans and areas needing to be addressed, that was done for 390 children but those had since all been successfully resolved and the outcomes have improved for the children.

·         The service had continued to embed its written record of the child’s Looked After Review, a review letter was sent to each child; that had been positively received including by Ofsted in its recent inspection. Health colleagues had started to take that approach via the initial health assessment and review health assessments. As well as the looked after services in their service plans meeting where going forward, their aim was to change the way they write children's care plans and their reports ensuring that they are child focused.

·         Whilst Covid-19 had significantly impacted on children in care, lessons learnt from the pandemic included the hybrid way of working going forward, using both mediums of virtual and face-to-face engagement. The Looked After Reviews were back to face-to-face meetings held where children live; staying in contact in between the reviews either face-to-face or virtually.

2.    The Chairman referred to the key areas of challenge and concern within the service outlined in the report which included placements, sufficiency, the lack of specialist service provision, the transition period to Adult Social Care and the allocation of personal advisors. It was a relief that the Board had discussed those issues which the service had highlighted as key areas. She reflected that the service in its position of overview over each looked after child, was a large driver of the improvement in the frontline service.

-       The Service Manager (Interim) agreed that the service was a large driver of the improvement in the frontline service. It was vital to find the balance in terms of the service still raising those areas of concern affecting children on an individual basis and recognising the national challenges of placements, sufficiency and social care recruitment, and collectively raising concerns with the authority.

3.    On behalf of the Headteacher - Surrey Virtual School (SVS), the Chairman noted that she reflected on the comment in the report referring to the high volume of surveys for Looked After Children and wondered whether there was a need for a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/22-23

17/22-23

INDEPENDENT VISITOR SERVICE ANNUAL REPORT 2021-2022

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    This report produced by the Independent Visitor Service is prepared to inform the Board and senior leaders about the Council’s delivery of the statutory responsibility to appoint an independent visitor for any child they are looking after, if they feel it would be in the child’s best interests.The report covers the reporting period January 2021 to March 2022. 

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

Linde Webber - Service Manager (Interim), Quality Assurance

 

Key points raised during the discussion

 

1.    The Service Manager (Interim) noted that:

·         The Independent Visitor Service (IVS) was a statutory requirement for the local authority to provide an independent visit to a child in care who wishes to have one or where it is deemed might be appropriate to meet their needs.

·         It was a small service with two full time equivalent hosts with a coordinator and a social worker who deliver and run the service.

·         The recent IRCSC noted that nationally about 3.5% of children have independent visits provided by local authorities, that figure was 7% in Surrey. Whilst still not as high as she had hoped it to be, the figure reflected what was manageable within the service’s capacity.

·         There were currently 71 Independent Visitors (IV) with matches, within that there were 20 young people who were care leavers.

·         Where the request has come from both the young person and the IV that they would like to continue that relationship and where it had been deemed in the young person's best interest, the service continued to support that relationship. Whilst within legislation the IV role ends when a child turns 18 years old, where it is needed, the IV in Surrey would continue that relationship; the IRCSC highlighted the importance of lifelong relationships.

·         The challenge of continuing those relationships was that it would have an impact on the IV’s availability to match with a younger Looked After Child who wishes to have an IV. 

·         On average the turnover was around 10 to 15 IVs every year, it was important to recognise that IVs were volunteers who want to give something back to the community and some had been in the role for over ten years.

·         IVs spend time with their child on activities that they wish to do, a young person sees their IV approximately once a month and it is a valuable relationship where the child is in control of what information their IV knows about their circumstances - unless there was a need for risk assessment.

·         The service could not meet the demand due to the service capacity of being able to manage around 80 IVs, there were more children who had asked for an IV than there were IVs available to match with them.

2.    The Chairman queried that if a young person has an IV, whether they could also have a Grandmentor or be supported through the Advocacy Service, whilst separate from the IVs she asked whether those roles were mutually exclusive.

-       In response, the Service Manager (Interim) explained that they were different roles, an IV could potentially in a separate role be a Grandmentor or an advocate; recently an IV had stepped down to become a Grandmentor. There were support groups every other month for the IVs where presentations provided an outline of what else goes on in the local authority and with Looked After Children.

-       The Executive Director of Children,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/22-23

18/22-23

ACTION TRACKER UPDATES

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    The updated Action Tracker will be providing at the next Board meeting.

     

    The following updates on the Action Tracker are provided:

     

    Annex 1 - Performance Dashboard for Care and Care Leavers Team: April 21 till March 22.

    - Action N4, CPB January 2022 (Completed): Associate Director to provide updated information on referral to assessment and assessment to treatment times in three months’ time.

     

    Annex 2 - Ofsted Report: Children’s Home: SC405933

    - Action P11, CPB May 2022 (Completed): Circulate to the Board the Ofsted reports on children’s homes as soon as those are published; and where there are issues the lead member for the relevant children’s home would be involved in the discussions.

     

Minutes:

Witnesses:

None

 

Key points raised during the discussion

 

1.    The Chairman highlighted the inclusion of Annex 1 - Performance Dashboard for Care and Care Leavers Team: April 21 till March 22 - Action N4, andAnnex 2 - Ofsted Report: Children’s Home: SC405933 - Action P11; completing those two actions. She explained that recent Ofsted reports had been updated on the Member Portal.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Board noted the updates to the Action Tracker.

 

Actions/further information to be provided:

 

None.

 

 

19/22-23

DATE OF NEXT MEETING: 4 AUGUST 2022

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    The next meeting of the Board will be held on 4 August 2022.

    Minutes:

    The Board noted that its next meeting will be held on 4 August 2022.