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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.
To receive for approval the minutes of 14/10/2021
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting on the 14 October 2021 be approved as a true and accurate record.
The Group Manager, Placements and Provider Services presented a report providing an update on the remodelling of Children’s Residential Services and updated information about Bridgend Foster Care service provision and developments that were underway.
The Group Manager, Placements and Provider Services provided a background on the work that had been undertaken as part of the Remodelling of Children’s Residential Services in Bridgend since 2018. He identified the issues from staff engagement sessions undertaken at that time and the key elements of the new model. In January 2019 Children’s Social Care reported to Corporate Parenting Committee on the Remodelling of Fostering Services. It was anticipated that the work would benefit the population of Care Experienced children, by providing improved placement choice, improved placement matching and more local placements. In addition it was identified that it would achieve cost savings contributing to the Directorate’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS).
The Group Manager, Placements and Provider Services then outlined the current situation and proposals. He explained that Residential Services had been remodelled, with Sunny Bank now offering Medium to Long Term Placements to children and young people aged 8-17 years. The Service had provided a safe and stable home to a number of young people, two of whom had lived there for over five years, one for four years and one for three years. Maple Tree House (MTH) had been open since 2018 offering a two bed emergency unit and a four bed assessment unit. It offered a therapeutic environment for children and young people, using a trauma informed approach to provide the most effective support possible, enabling them to understand their individual circumstances, develop resilience and self-care skills. The aim, during a young person’s time at Maple Tree House was to provide them with consistency and routines and to enable them to develop trusting relationships that would support their recovery from trauma allowing them to gain the maximum benefit of any therapy that they received.
Since April 2020 the service had faced a number of challenges linked with Non-Compliance with Regulatory Requirements and the Covid Pandemic, with its impact on staffing and the young people who were living at MTH. Despite these challenges the service achieved a positive inspection outcome in October 2020 and the understanding and confidence of the staff team had continued to improve. The next step was for the new Residential Hub to be built in Brynmenyn (re-locating Maple Tree House) and the old Brynmenyn Primary School had been demolished and the site cleared in readiness for construction work to commence during spring 2022 with an anticipated completion date in January/February 2023. Within this building there would also be office accommodation where the fostering and
placements team would be co-located to support with identifying the right placement options for a young person following their time in the residential home.
The Group Manager, Placements and Provider Services explained that the role of Transitional Foster Carers was developed which identified that six foster carers were required, due to the demands of ... view the full minutes text for item 238.
The Independent Reviewing Service Manager provided a report to Corporate Parenting Committee in line with the Independent Reviewing Officers Guidance (Wales) 2004. The report covered the period April 2020 to March 2021, just as the pandemic started and this presented a number of challenges across the Council.
The Independent Reviewing Service Manager explained that the Independent Reviewing Service had had some real successes within that time. They were able to keep a very high level of compliance in terms of Child Protection Case Conferences and Looked After Children reviews. The IRO’s chaired/reviewed 195 Initial Child Protection Case Conferences between April 2020 and March 2021 compared to 235 in the previous year. A total of 518 Review Child Protection Case Conferences between
April 2020 and March 2021 were convened compared to 595 in the previous reporting period and 1,159 Looked After Child review meetings were held between April 2020 and March 2021 compared with 1,191 the previous reporting period. They had to take on a completely new way of working, utilising new technologies to ensure that everybody who participated in conferences and LAC reviews could take part. She was pleased to report the level of compliance in terms of those meetings and that COVID had not stopped consultation.
The Independent Reviewing Service Manager explained that Conference Chairs consulting with children who were party to a Child Protection Conference was an area they were working to improve. They successfully overcame various challenges to enable parents to take part in all conferences and LAC reviews and often had to be quite pragmatic and think outside the box. They were now undertaking all midpoint reviews across the board for all care experienced children as per the standards, and that was an achievement as not all local authorities had been able to do that. The Independent Reviewing Officers continued to undertake quality assurance exercises after every single meeting to provide a wealth of information to identify what was outstanding and help the Team Manager to make sure that they were aware of what work needed to be done. The number of children on the Child Protection Register and those that were looked after, fluctuated over the period but did remain stable. It was lower at the date of the meeting than it was in that period but pleasing to see that the numbers had not increased. Another real positive was that they had managed to significantly reduce the number of children that had been on the Child Protection Register for over 18 months which at its highest had been 44 children but it was currently 8. Various processes had been implemented to bring the figure down and it was really positive and not just due to the Independent Reviewing Service but due to Team Managers, the Principal Officer and everybody working together to really move the cases on.
The Independent Reviewing Service Manager explained that there were various new processes in place to ensure coordinated working and she was working very closely with the Safeguarding ... view the full minutes text for item 239.
The Chief Officer, Finance Performance and Change presented a report providing information to the Corporate Parenting Committee regarding the work being undertaken with regards to care experienced children and young people and their future accommodation needs. She explained that all Welsh Councils had recently been tasked by Welsh Government to examine
their corporate parenting response in relation to care experienced children and young people and their future accommodation needs. Care leavers in Wales had a range of entitlements set out in social services legislation to ensure that they were properly accommodated. These were detailed in
Appendix A to the report. The requirements placed on local authorities in this regard were detailed in section four of the report. It demonstrated a need for joint working not only across the authority but also with other agencies to ensure the cohort of young people received the level of support they required. There was joint working across social services and housing to support this cohort and more recently, work had been undertaken to consider how this may be improved to ensure a better understanding between the two services with regards to current service demand, current service availability and also future service provision. A proposed action plan to deliver these improvements was attached to the report. This would look at corporate outcomes, commissioning, joint working and projected needs to ensure the experience and outcomes for young people who required these services to progress, was improved. An Action Plan Working Group would be established at the first meeting to agree Terms of Reference. The membership of the group would include external agencies and they could also agree timelines for the completion of the works included within the action plan. She suggested that progress against that action plan should then be reported back to the Committee.
The Cabinet Member for Communities referred to the Action Plan and asked if the individuals concerned would be involved in the process. He said that it looked like they were trying to develop housing and not including individuals in the design of the service.
The Corporate Director for Social Services and Wellbeing replied that this was a fundamental point. There had been managerial workshops looking at the Barnardoes framework and a desktop exercise had been undertaken involving the young children. The supported accommodation projects were key in terms of quality assurance. They had also just appointed a new Corporate Parenting Officer and his role would be to take forward participation.
The Cabinet Member for Wellbeing and Future Generations added that it was really pleasing to see this area under the spotlight in a Cabinet meeting. Young person's accommodation was important to all members and especially with care experienced children and young people. She asked if it would be possible to see timescales in the meeting so that they could get an understanding of when progress would be made. She was really pleased that they were extending personal advisors support up to the age of 25.
The Leader asked for more information ... view the full minutes text for item 240.
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.