Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online access

Contact: Andy Carswell  01628 796319

Items
No. Item

167.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 - EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

To consider passing the following resolution:-

 

“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the remainder of the meeting whilst discussion takes place, on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1-7 of part I of Schedule 12A of the Act."

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the motion to exclude the public be approved.

168.

Welcome, Introductions and Apologies for Absence

To welcome everyone to the meeting and receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked those present to introduce themselves.

 

Apologies were received from Danny Gomm.

169.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

170.

Minutes

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on February 24th 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on February 24th be approved as a correct record, subject to an amendment to the minute on the Kickback Activity to state that Cllr Luxton said she felt some sensitive information should be discussed outside of the Forum, and not Cllr da Costa.

171.

Kickback Activity

To take part in an activity organised by Kickback members.

Minutes:

The Forum members took part in an interactive Kahoot quiz on the topic of Care Leavers. The winner was Lin Ferguson, with Cllr Tisi second and Marie Bell third.

172.

Kickback/PACT update

To receive updates on Kickback, PACT and the Leaving Care Forum.

Minutes:

Kickback member Ryan provided the Forum with an update. He reminded members that at the last meeting a discussion had taken place about renaming the Corporate Parent Forum and the name Kickback members liked best was the Community Responsibility Forum.

 

During the Easter break ten Kickback members went Kayaking with the Outdoor Education Team. It was a successful trip and Kickback members wanted to thank the OEP team, James, Franki and Helen for all the trips and for making everyone always feel so safe under their care. Ryan said the Kickback members were sad to see them go and thought this was not necessarily a good decision, because the outcomes many members had got from overcoming fears and barriers and embracing teamwork on the trips was difficult to emulate in other settings. Kickback members had also been on a trip to Heroes Farm in Holyport and taken part in an outdoor escape room in Windsor.  

 

Cllr Carroll joined the March Kickback meeting and taken part in the tie-dyeing activity. Also present at the meeting was Damon Hall from the Advocacy service, who spoke to members about redesigning the Advocate Booklet and Independent Visitors. He was going to come to one of the face to face sessions to speak to members about this again. April’s meeting would be taking place face to face at Marlow Road, which members were very excited about, and Amanda from Norden Farm would be attending to do origami with members.

 

The competition to rename Pinkneys Green Youth Centre was still running until the Monday following the Corporate Parenting Forum, and Kickback members would choose their favourite at their next meeting. The redesign of the coming into care booklet was progressing and it would be ready for a full proof read soon. Training would then be given to existing Kickback members to be able to explain the booklet contents to new young people into care. 

 

Ryan said that Kickback members may not be able to go on a residential visit this summer again but they were looking into holding a summer camp instead. There will be lots of fun activities but they would also hold workshops on things like substance misuse, exploitation, mental health, chairing our child in care reviews.

 

Regarding the Care Leavers’ Group, members spoke about the Local Offer, the council tax exemption possibly being increased to the age of 25, the pathway plan and the possibility of having a ‘rainbow of participation’ chart were all discussed at the March meeting. They were going to look into having guest speakers to increase the number of people attending. The people in attendance were interested in having a Facebook or WhatsApp group for Care Leavers, where information can be shared with everyone. 

 

Elaine Keating said the summer camp would be split for 10-14 year-olds and for those aged over 14, with age appropriate activities for both. It would be based locally, possibly at Windsor riverside. Kickback leaders would be invited to suggest activities, and as many of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 172.

173.

Emotional Health and Wellbeing Update Overview

To receive a presentation and update.

Minutes:

Janette Fulwood, Head of Children, Young People and Families at the NHS East Berkshire CCG, and Sandeep Rai, Specialist Mental Health Practitioner for Children in Care at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, both introduced themselves and explained their roles. Janette Fulwood explained that many of the projects she worked across for the population as a whole had great benefits for children in care. She said that across the south east support provision for children in care had been increased, and partnerships with directors from social care and health had been created to help facilitate this. Therefore there was an overlap with the Corporate Parenting Forum to include the work the NHS was carrying out. A pledge for children in care, as a firm promise from corporate leaders, and a tariff to prevent overcharging of services for children in care had been introduced. This was to ensure greater consistency in care. The second phase of the strategy was the rollout of a community of practice development, and Janette Fulwood advised the Forum that Lin Ferguson had been involved in this from RBWM’s perspective.

 

Three key documents looking at mental health ambition, health roles and responsibilities, and the emotional/mental health tariff had all been created as a reminder of the corporate parenting responsibilities towards children in care. These guidelines had been developed nationally following a task and finish group.

 

The discussion then turned to the local transformation plan, regarding mental health service provision. Janette Fulwood explained that prior to 2016 there had been no collaborative working and mental health had been viewed as something that only healthcare providers would deal with. Now there was greater collaboration and joint commissioning of services, and £1.5million had been invested into an early intervention scheme in east Berkshire. A multiagency partnership, which included RBWM representatives on it, had been established. From the partnership working it had become apparent that mental health issues were not just the responsibility of healthcare providers, and the input of local authorities was also invaluable. It was hoped that a new ethos of working could be created. Janette Fulwood stated that additional funding had been given to the Number 22 counselling service. The Forum was given a run down of revised early intervention offer and the options that were open to children in care, and young people generally. Mental health support teams had all been linked to the virtual school, bespoke training was available to foster families and staff had been provided with LGBTQ+ training.

 

Sandeep Rai told members that talks had taken place with social workers to discuss key cases relating to young people going into crisis care. This enabled professionals to discuss the best way forward for a young person, or their foster family. For example their issue may be related to their placement, or it may be determined that the best solution would be a referral to CAMHS. Members were told that Sandeep Rai’s role oversaw services at three local authority areas.

 

Janette Fulwood said there was significant strain  ...  view the full minutes text for item 173.

174.

Children in Care Reviews

To note and discuss the contents of the report.

Minutes:

Shungu Chigocha, Head of Service for Child Protection and Reviewing Services, introduced the item and explained the Signs of Safety strategy was in the process of being implemented to include children in care. She explained it was felt important for young people in care to be given a voice in the decision-making process for things that affected them, and the new strategy had been developed in consultation with young people. The primary practice framework model that included Signs of Safety had been introduced across Achieving for Children in January 2018 and the strategy had had a positive impact, so the decision had been taken to introduce the second phase of the strategy. This would be called Signs of Success and would be used as a baseline model of how children in care review meetings would be conducted. There had been a three month pilot of the project.

 

Shungu Chigocha told the Forum that evidence suggested young people felt more comfortable and listened to, and were able to make contributions in their child in care meetings. She said the Signs of Success scheme used appreciative enquiry to look at what the young person had achieved since their last meeting. This would help to build a baseline which would enable the young person to understand where they were, and to make them feel valued and respected. Child in care meetings were now being audio recorded to allow the interviewer to be more attentive to the young person, as they no longer had to take notes for the minutes of the meeting, and to make it easier to review afterwards in the event of a parent challenging what was said. Audio records had the additional benefit of making it easier to offer a translation service for those who did not speak English as their first language. The new way of working was seen as allowing a reviewing officer to build a more meaningful relationship with the child in care and ensured greater consistency across the service. Shungu Chigocha clarified that it was hoped Signs of Success would be rolled out by June 2021.

 

Cllr Tisi said the introduction of audio recording was a positive step, as was the emphasis on what was going well in a child’s life rather than focusing on their issues. She said this had been her experience from special educational needs reviews. Shungu Chigocha said this process was already being used at child protection conferences.

 

Elaine Keating asked how information on the new strategy would be relayed to young people in care. Shungu Chigocha said work would be done with frontline social workers and youth services and through services such as Kickback. In terms of timelines, the roll out would take place once reviewing officers were comfortable with the new method of working.

175.

Unregulated Placements Report

To note and discuss the report.

Minutes:

Marie Bell, Associate Director of Corporate Parenting, introduced the item and explained the difference between unregulated and unregistered placements. Unregistered meant a setting was not registered with Ofsted, whereas unregulated referred to a level of support rather than specific care for a child. Marie Bell explained there was a lot of scrutiny around unregulated placements and there were positives for children being placed into an unregulated setting. It had previously been frowned upon to place a child under the age of 16 into an unregulated setting, and nationally five per cent of children in care were in such a setting. Marie Bell said that of the 130 children in the care of the Royal Borough, nine were in unregulated placements and all were over the age of 16 and had access to a variety of support. She said unregulated placements allowed for provision of support that could be tailored to an individual’s needs. The Council owned four ‘taster’ flats that allowed young people the chance to trial independent living.

 

Marie Bell said measuring the impact of Covid was in the early stages and it was not possible to provide a full picture. However there had been an increase in placement disruptions and the need for stability meetings, and it was possible that some young people had been moved into independent living earlier than might have been expected in normal circumstances; however this was not necessarily to the detriment of the young person. Marie Bell said the picture was likely to be clearer by the time of the next report. She added however that robust procedures were in place and staff had found that unregulated placements often provided the best level of support for particularly vulnerable young people. A service provider that produced excellent results regarding unregulated placements had been identified, but they were based in the north. The provider would prioritise children in care and care leavers local to them, but the option was open for children from the Royal Borough to use their services if they so wished.

 

The Forum was told there were three 18-year-olds in the Council’s care who were awaiting the outcome of appeals regarding their right to permanent residency in the UK.

 

Seven key principles had been identified to enable the Council to fulfil its corporate parenting duties. For one of these principles, children in care and care leavers had been encouraged to provide feedback, in order to provide better outcomes. This had formed part of a government consultation on unregulated and unregistered care provision, and members were informed of the major outcomes of the study.

 

It was noted there was no legal definition of care and Cllr Tisi asked what the difference was between care and support. Marie Bell explained a child that needed things doing for them would be considered to be in care, whereas one that was able to do some things for themselves would be regarded as needing support.

 

Marie Bell said she could provide case examples of children in unregulated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 175.

176.

Reviewing Service Annual Report

To receive an update.

Minutes:

It was agreed that this item would be deferred to the next meeting.

177.

Council Tax Exemptions

To discuss proposed Council Tax exemptions for Care Leavers up to the age of 25.

Minutes:

Lin Ferguson told the Forum that a Council’s duty towards care leavers had been extended from up to the age of 21 to 25, and a proposal had been made to extend Council Tax exemptions for care leavers up to the age of 25 as a result. The Forum was advised that Finance had been informed and the amount required would be minimal. Lin Ferguson said it was her recommendation that the proposal be agreed and moved on to Cabinet for final approval.

 

Cllr Hunt queried the extension, stating that 25 was not a young age and many care leavers may already be working and taking in a significant wage. Officers stated the proposal would be in line with government policy, and care leavers had often had to overcome difficult circumstances and the majority would be unlikely to be in a position where they would command a large wage. Lin Ferguson said a number of local authorities had already extended Council Tax exemptions for care leavers up to the age of 25.

 

Cllr da Costa stated a feasibility study had been carried out, which showed very few care leavers would be able to afford to pay Council Tax due to low income. She said it was a matter of the Council’s corporate parenting responsibility to support the proposal. Elaine Keating stated her belief it could be seen as discriminatory not to offer the Council Tax exemption.

 

Lin Ferguson told the Forum that the proposal had been costed, and the amount required was so low it did not warrant inclusion as an additional line in the next Budget if the proposals were to be agreed.

 

RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the proposals to extend Council Tax exemptions for care leavers up to the age of 25 be approved, and for the proposal to be taken forward to Cabinet.

178.

Dates of Future Meetings

To note the dates of future meetings as follows:

 

June 30th 2021

September 7th 2021

October 19th 2021

December 8th 2021

February 9th 2022

April 5th 2022

Minutes:

Members noted the dates of forthcoming meetings.

 

Marie Bell stated that some children in care aged over 16 did not qualify for Pupil Premium and were without laptops that would enable them to do their work, and asked if anyone could suggest how assistance could be provided. Ways of helping were suggested.

 

Elaine Keating noted that none of the reports for consideration on the agenda included a Kickback-friendly version that would enable young people to have a clearer understanding of their contents. It was agreed that Elaine Keating would liaise with Andy Carswell, the clerk, to send a reminder out to officers.

 

Members said it would be helpful if more elected members were able to attend the Forum. It was noted that a previous decision had been made at Full Council where it was decided that all elected members should be able to fulfil their role as corporate parents by being DBS checked and having the opportunity to attend meetings. Members suggested this was something that may need to be revisited.