Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 12 September 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Contact: Andrea Clarke 01452 324203 

Items
No. Item

39.

Declarations of interest

Please see note (a) at the end of agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

40.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting on Thursday 18 July 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

41.

Developing the early help strategy pdf icon PDF 1 MB

This is an opportunity for the committee to input into the development of the Early Help Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

41.1     Eugene O’Kane, Assistant Director Early Help and Targeted Support, introduced this item which included but was not limited to the continuum of need, the importance of local agencies working together, the graduated pathway, and the targeted support and advice available  (for information - the presentation slides were uploaded to the council’s web site and included in the minute book). To support its discussion the committee was also joined by Sarah Murphy, Service Lead for Early Help and Targeted Support, Tom Beveridge, Headteacher The Dean Academy, Hayley McGoldrick, Headteacher Littledean Primary School, and Mandy Pugh, Gloucester Academy Designated Safeguarding Lead.

 

41.2     The committee was reminded that it was important not to think of Early Help as a standalone service: ‘early help is not just a service to which other professionals refer families, but is a wider, multi-disciplinary and cross community offer or system through which services and community groups work together to provide responsive, flexible support’ (LGA/ISOS report March 2019). The main aim of this session was to focus on work with schools.

 

41.3     It was noted that there were over 1000 contacts into the early help system in July 2019. This would seem to indicate that there would be much more early help activity  across the wider agencies in Gloucestershire.

 

41.4     The importance of getting involved from conception onwards was raised. This was acknowledged and the committee was informed about the pilot with midwifery services in Gloucestershire developed through the ACEs work (Adverse Childhood Experiences). In response to a question it was explained that work with maternity/midwifery services had been in place for a long time. However this pilot was about enhancing the offer/support to pregnant women; putting more structure and a ‘trauma informed’ approach around it.

 

41.5     The challenges at the pre-school level were raised. It was agreed that this might be something that the committee would wish to consider at a future meeting.

 

41.6     The Assistant Director informed the committee that in order to deliver effective early help it was important to work in a systemic way. The Early Help Practice Guide updated in August 2019 should help to improve and support the process. It was also commented that it would be important to increase the understanding of the impact of ACEs across the wider population.

 

41.7     It was questioned as to how we could ensure that in working together the same protocols were used – was there an audit process. It was explained that much of this related to the use of the graduated pathway and the training delivered to other agencies; and that audits were undertaken.

 

41.8     The committee was then informed by the Headteachers of Littledean Primary School, and the Dean Academy, and the Safeguarding Lead from Gloucester Academy of what early help meant in their schools, the interventions that they have in place to support parents and children and the support from the local authority.

 

41.9     At Littledean Primary School there was a range of approaches including therapeutic interventions and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Care Leaver Offer Update - Mentoring Provision pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Minutes:

42.1     Mark Bone, Head of Over 11 Service, presented the report.

 

42.2     Committee members were aware of the visit by Mark Riddell, the National Implementation Advisor for care leavers, to the authority the previous week; the council had also had its final monitoring visit from Ofsted. The Director of Children’s Services informed members that the visits had gone reasonably well. However, there was still a lot to do before the full Ofsted inspection.

 

42.3     The Director of Children’s Services also informed the committee that Mr Riddell had applauded Cllr Miller’s role as Champion for care leavers. Mr Riddell had also suggested that the council might wish to consider having Champions for specific issues.

 

42.4     The Director of Children’s Services stated that whilst we had a generic local care leaver offer based on the statutory minimum questioned whether this meant that the council was being a good corporate parent? He put forward the example of a district council meeting its housing duty but at the same time could be falling short of being a good corporate parent by making a young person homeless. The Director informed members that he had offered to host an event with partners to support and challenge them about the offer.

 

42.5     It was noted that care leavers did not have to identify themselves as such to partner organisations, for example, if a care leaver did not identify themselves they would not receive council tax exemption. It was questioned whether care leavers would be prioritised in the housing system. It was explained that they would be ‘gold banded’; the pressure was the lack of appropriate and available accommodation. It was again questioned whether the care leaver offer was sufficient to meet our, and district councils, duty as corporate parents; were we going the extra mile?

 

42.6     It was commented that this council should consider using its own land to develop suitable housing opportunities for care leavers. Other members emphasised that housing was a district council issue.

 

42.7     The committee was informed that it was planned for the Bright Spots survey to take place this December. It was agreed that it would be helpful for the committee to consider the outcomes from this survey.

ACTION:        Andrea Clarke

 

42.8     In response to a question it was explained that whilst the MTFS bid for peer mentoring had not been successful, some funding has now been identified to expand this area.

 

43.

Revenue Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

43.1     Suzanne Hall, Finance Business Partner, presented the report. She highlighted the particular pressures faced by this budget area.

 

43.2     In response to a question she informed the committee that there were currently 315 external placements in place; and clarified that this did not necessarily mean that these young people were out of county but that they were in external provision. There were a significant number of young people with complex cases, this put the budget under pressure, particularly within the context of a market that was not well developed. The committee was aware that the Director of Children’s Services closely monitored external placements.

 

43.3     The Director of Children’s Services informed the committee that the LGA would be coming into the council soon and would be scrutinising how we use our resources.

 

43.4     The Director of Children’s Services updated the committee on the recruitment of social workers.

 

43.5     The committee Chairman shared his concern that each time the committee received this report the pressures were the same and worried that there did not currently appear to be an indication of when this position would improve. The Director of Children’s Services acknowledged this concern and informed the committee that the new Director of Corporate Resources had already discussed making changes to the budget setting process. The committee was also reminded that the scrutiny of the budget process would be commencing soon and that it would be important to ensure that members concerns re this budget area were raised and discussed at that time.

 

43.6     With regard to the Dedicated Schools Grant the recent funding announcement from government was acknowledged. It would be important to understand what this meant in the longer term.