Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Committee Corporate Parenting
Thursday, 7th April, 2016 10:00

Venue: Committee Rooms 2/3, Civic Offices Angel Street Bridgend CF31 4WB. View directions

Contact: Mr Mark Anthony Galvin  Senior Democratic Services Officer - Committees

Items
No. Item

122.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the following Members:

 

Councillor DBF White

Councillor PJ White.  

123.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008.

Minutes:

None.

124.

Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To receive for approval the minutes of a meeting of the Corporate Parenting Cabinet Committee dated 3 December 2015

Minutes:

RESOLVED:                That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet Committee Corporate Parenting of 3 December 2015 be approved as a true and accurate record. 

125.

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (including specific reference to Part 6 Looked After and Accommodated Children) pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing reported that the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into effect on 6 April 2016 and a project team had been established in the lead up to the implementation of the Act to ensure compliance with the Act under the leadership of Beverley Whiteley, Team Manager Children With Disabilities.  The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing informed the Committee that the Directorate is working towards a cultural shift and is now in a strong position to implement the Act. 

 

The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing outlined the two key policy objectives of the Act seeking to transform the way in which social services are delivered, primarily through promoting independence and giving people a stronger voice and control.  The Act also sought to promote partnership working in social care and to enhance the preventative role of social care and health, setting out overarching wellbeing duties to reduce or delay the need for care and support.  It ensured that people receive the right support at the right time and place. 

 

The Team Manager Children With Disabilities informed the Committee of the main duties of the Act with reference to children in need of care and support, looked after and accommodated children and care leavers.  She highlighted the main points of the 11 parts which make up the Act, particularly Part 6 of the Act which related to the authority’s duties and responsibilities towards looked after and accommodated children as well as detailing arrangements and duties for leaving care, including making provision for post-18 living arrangements.  The Team Manager Children With Disabilities informed the Committee that the Code explicitly states that once a child is in care all elected members and officers of the local authority, as corporate parents need to be concerned about that child and must take a set of principles into account when engaging with them and making any decision concerning them. 

 

The Team Manager Children With Disabilities informed the Committee that Part 6 of the Act links with many other parts of the Act including duties surrounding Advocacy in Part 10 and required provision relating to children and young people in the Secure estate in Part 11.  She stated that Part 6 stressed the duty to appoint an independent visitor for a child where it appeared to be in the child’s best interest.  Part 6 also makes provision for Short Breaks where required for a disabled child, although the Act also makes provision under Part 4, where this is considered most appropriate.  She stated there is a duty under Part 3 to assess from time to time whether a looked after child has care and support needs and where those needs are eligible there is a duty to meet those needs.  Part 6 also draws on the concept of working preventatively with looked after and accommodated children.  She stated that the Act had strengthened the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer, although it had appeared to legislate what is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 125.

126.

Rota Visiting by Elected Members pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Social Services and Wellbeing informed the Committee that rota visiting to the Council’s children’s social care establishments is part of the quality assurance mechanism in place and is valued greatly.  She stated that there are internal monitoring processes in place for rota visiting and that elected members contribute greatly to the programme and more visits by members are encouraged. 

 

The Group Manager Business Support reported that comprehensive guidance for rota visiting had been developed with Members which is regularly reviewed.  She stated that training sessions have taken place to ensure Members are updated on the process of rota visiting.  The Group Manager Business Support informed the Committee that concerns had been raised by Members about the variety of services they visit, however the purpose of the visits is to gain feedback on the quality of care received and it was hoped that Members would be able to spend time with different services users each time they visit. 

 

The Group Manager Business Support reported that 28 visits had been carried out of a possible 63 visits to children’s establishments between April 2014 and January 2016.  She stated the next rota will commence in April 2016 and invitations will be sent to all Members to encourage a greater level of participation in rota visits.  The Group Manager Business Support informed the Committee that the Children and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 9 March 2016 requested that consideration be given to including independent sector children’s establishments on the rota visiting programme.  This is currently being explored. 

 

The Cabinet Member Children’s Social Services and Equalities commented on the need for more visits to take place to the Transition Unit at Newbridge House as more visits had taken place to Bakers Way.    

 

A member of the Committee commented that the purpose of the visits was to look at the welfare of children and young people at those establishments and not to look at the conditions of the facilities.  The Group Manager Business Support informed the Committee that the guidance in place for rota visits is quite detailed and there are management processes in place to report problems which relate to the condition of facilities at the establishments.    

 

The Committee commented on the excellent training offered to Members to assist them in undertaking rota visits.

 

RESOLVED:           (1)  That the report be noted:

 

 (2)  That it be noted that next rota period will commence in April 2016 and invitations will be sent to all Elected Members to try and increase the level of participation.                          

127.

Looked After Children Deprivation Grant pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Group Manager School Improvement reported on the support being delivered to improve the educational performance of looked after children.  She stated that across Bridgend, there is an improving trend in GCSE performance at grades A* - G for looked after children and in 2014/15 no looked after children left education at the age of 16 without a qualification.  However, the proportion of grades above C is still too low and is therefore an area in need of improvement.  She stated that setting targets for cohorts of looked after children is problematic across Wales, given the variable nature of the looked after children population and the relatively small cohort sizes at local authority level.  She informed the Committee that the Welsh Government has set a national target in the educational achievement of 15 year olds at Key Stage 4 of the Level 2 from 17% in 2014 to 25% in 2016. 

 

The Corporate Director Education and Transformation informed the Committee that the authority is amongst the best performing local authorities in Wales for looked after children gaining GCSEs, however there remained a big gap in performance in educational attainment between looked after children and children who are not looked after. 

 

The Group Manager School Improvement informed the Committee of the multi-level approach to supporting and targeting the educational performance of looked after children, which is a priority in the Directorate’s business plan.  Each school had a designated teacher with responsibility to monitor and promote the education of looked after children.  Designated teachers work closely with the Looked After Children in Education (LACE) Team.  The plan is to develop capacity in schools and build on good practice across the five local authorities in the Consortium. 

 

The Group Manager School Improvement informed the Committee of the change in the allocation of the Pupil Deprivation Grant for looked after children, which was now administered by the Consortium and not schools to facilitate more strategic working.  It was intended that Pupil Deprivation Grant for looked after children would be used to support interventions and practices that are proven to have the greatest impact and sustainability in raising the attainment of looked after children.  The Group Manager School Improvement highlighted a list of schools that were successful in obtaining Pupil Deprivation Grant for looked after children in 2015/16.  In response to a question from the Committee, the Group Manager School Improvement stated that schools outside Bridgend had qualified for Pupil Deprivation Grant where they provide education for Bridgend looked after children who are educated out of county as they possess the specialist facilities to do so.   

 

The Group Manager School Improvement informed the Committee that the authority had commissioned Thrive through Pupil Deprivation Grant to provide training to a member of staff in each secondary and special school and a member of staff from each cluster in order to support looked after children within their schools and within their cluster.  She stated that the main objective of Thrive is to support children’s engagement and progress  ...  view the full minutes text for item 127.

128.

Urgent Items

To consider any other item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should be reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.