Venue: Virtual meeting
Contact: Susie Blood
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
The following members declared an interest:
The minutes of the Corporate Parenting Board held on 14 September 2021 were submitted and approved as a correct record.
The Service Manager from Adoption Tees Valley, Vicky Davison- Boyd will present the annual report to the Board.
The Board welcome Vicky- Davison Boyd, Service Manager from Adoption Tees Valley (ATV) who was in attendance to provide the Adoption Tees Valley Annual report 2020-21.
This Annual Report covered the period of 1.4.20 - 31.3.2021.
The Board were well aware that this period had been impacted by Covid-19 and the Service Manager advised that the year reported on has been characterised by adoption activity which has been conducted within the amended regulations and restrictions that have been imposed because of the public health emergency. One aspect that the ATV used was the ability to move adoptive parents onto Stage 2 of the adoption process without the medicals/ DBS being returned due to delays. However the Board were assured that no adoptive parents were approved without a medical or a DBS. Medicals were carried out by doctors/ medical advisors be that virtually.
In the main, despite some members being absent, Adoption Panels were held (virtually) and no adopters were approved without being presented to Panel; to ensure the quality assurance mechanism set in place.
The Service Manager stated that ATV continued to work in partnership with all 5 local authorities; however initially at the beginning of April 2020, moves for children to adoption placements were put on hold due to the virus and its health implications.
ATV worked closed with the National Adoption Agency National system and quite quickly looked at safe measures to move children on if that had been matched and not to have further unnecessary delay unduly by the pandemic. ATV operated a national risk assessment system (taking into account all issues associated with the pandemic) and there was excellent work undertaken by social workers; children services staff etc and these have been proven by the outcomes of some of the work undertaken in the year.
In terms of children being adopted, in the Tees Valley there were 82 children placed for adoption, but there were a further 17 children have been placed for early permanence, not yet “placed for adoption”.
In terms of Courts, they were very closely with ATV and heard adoption hearings, be that through challenging circumstances and there were 89 children adopted in the year.
The Service Manager advised that ATV had devised the Early Permanence Strategy; which set out to offer more opportunity for children to be cared for by their likely permanent family, at an earlier stage in their lives. This has been achieved through fostering for adoption, where the child’s plan is well developed before the Placement Order is granted, enabling a transparent, well planned placement, which reduces moves for children, and enables vital bonding and attachment with those likely to become parents to the child, at an earlier stage.
This was slightly affected by Covid, however this was put back on track and training was delivered to all 5 local authorities children’s services. ATV met with senior Managers and legal teams and key teams. Due to this we are seeing more children being moved onto early ... view the full minutes text for item 21/21
Covid- 19 update
The Director of Children’s Services will provide a verbal update to the Board.
The Director of Children’s Services provided a verbal update of Covid 19.
Schools were operating as business as usual, however there are still covid cases in some schools, however in the main they were managing; however the impact on covid on school staffing was variable.
In terms of children’s social work, Middlesbrough has returned to working with children and young people as per pre covid, and there is significant work being undertaken to move social workers safely back into Middlesbrough House.
In terms of covid vaccines, the Head of Looked After Children and Corporate Parenting advised that there were 125 children who fitted the eligibility category and the programme was being led by the school immunisation team. Update was slow but it was being promoted. The Council had been working with the schools immunisation team and discussion had taken place with children, young people and foster carers to ensure all information was shared and that they could make an informed choice.
AGREED- That the update be noted.
Participation with our children and young people
Antonia Dixey, Chief Executive of Participation People will provide an update to the Board.
The Chair welcome Hannah Wiseman, Programme Manager- Specialist and Targeted from Participation People to the meeting.
At the last meeting of the Board, the Chief Executive provided the Board with an overview of the Participation Roadmap for Middlesbrough as well as working closely with the children in care council and care leavers forum.
At present, the focus was on Care leavers week and the Participation People with Care leavers were undertaking some training with elected members to provide information of what it was like to be a child in care. The training would be 1 hour. Workshops surrounding young people’s wellbeing were also being developed and would run throughout November.
In terms of further work, the Participation People would work and consult with young people to see what they want in Middlesbrough and in the pipeline, was Middlesbrough Takeover to solve Middlesbrough’s big business challenges.
Further updates would be delivered at every meeting of the Board.
AGREED- That the update be noted.
The Specialist Commissioning Manager will present the Sufficiency action plan to the Board.
The Chair welcomed the Specialist Commissioning & Procurement Senior Manager to the meeting to provide an overview of the highlight report of the Sufficiency action plan were was devised out the corporate Parenting Board Strategy.
The Sufficiency Action Plan will be reviewed and updated as actions are completed or as new work is identified in the event of any changes to our sufficiency needs over the 3-year cycle of our plan.
The Sufficiency action plan was broken up into 6 themed areas, with a key accountable officer who works closely with the Manager.
The Manager provided an overview of the key progress to date against each them and these are bulleted below:
Theme 1 - Strengthening Commissioning for Children and Young People
Theme 2 – Increasing Placements Close to where Children and Young People live and learn
Theme 3 – Growing Early Intervention & Prevention
Theme 4 – Improving Placements & Support for Care Leavers
Theme 5 – Enhancing Learning Outcomes for Children & Young People
Theme 6 – Building Our Fostering Capacity and Adoption Outcomes
In terms of impact and performance, the Manager outlined that there had been opened engagement with the Independent Fostering market which was really positive and gave an opportunity to feedback and update them on our improvement journey and aspirations for the future. She also advised ... view the full minutes text for item 21/24
Performance against Corporate Parenting Strategy
The Director of Children’s Care and the Analytics Manager will present the performance scorecard to the Board.
The Head of Looked after Children and Corporate Parenting was in attendance and provided the Board with information relating to the Corporate Parenting Board scorecard.
The Director advised that the scorecard was in place for the Corporate Parenting Board to see how our performance was progressing and have the opportunity to challenge anything where you saw wasn’t meeting target.
The main points to note were as follows:
Special Guardianship Orders/ Child arrangement order (SGOs/CAO)
Placements with Parents
The Head of Virtual Schools will present the school transitions 2021 to the Board.
The Head of Access to Education presented the virtual schools transitions 2021 report to the Board. As way of introduction, the Board were made aware that the Virtual schools governing body had asked the Head of Virtual Schools to provide some clarity regarding key transitions in the education of children looked after e.g. significant point where a child is moving from education setting to the next and these are points in a child’s live if the support isn’t right, that learning and progress can be put back.
All children looked after have a personal education plan (PEP) and the PEO process supports pupils at transition points throughout their school journey; this includes transition into care, emergency moves and natural transitions such as starting reception, moving to secondary school or post 16 education.
The routines and processes in place that support all transitions must be flexible to ensure the needs of individual children are met. Where possible children will need time to become familiar with their new surroundings, at their own pace and with support from their key person. Planning should start 12 months preceding any natural transition point and then be a continuous and evolving process that can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual child. Many activities such as joint meetings between settings and school staff can be on-going throughout the year.
In terms of support, the Officer outlined the following in terms of the following transitions:
Children aged 2+ who attend an educational provision are required to have a Personal Education Plan (PEP) which records both care planning information as well as educational next steps to ensure appropriate progress is made. Normally, this transition is quite straightforward, by there are exceptions.
· 28 children transitioned from nursery to reception
· 6 of those children are now in their forever homes and are no longer looked after
· 3 children had SEN support needs and 0 had an EHCP
· 9 children started reception in schools outside of Middlesbrough
Primary to Secondary
The transition to secondary school is a huge step for all children and especially big step for children who are looked after. When a child moves to secondary school they no longer remain in one class all day, but are required to move around the school. Children have to deal with timetables and a wide variety of subjects.
Some common transitional problems for children are as follows:
1. When leaving primary school children go from being the oldest to the youngest in their new school.
2. From having one teacher in primary school children will have to cope with as many as ten or more teachers with different teaching styles and personalities.
3. Secondary school is much bigger and children will go from having one classroom to ten or more.
4. There is more homework to be done.
5. A larger number of textbooks need to be transported and organised.
6. A longer school day.
7. Greater competition both academically and in sports and activities.
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.
Care Leavers Week 2021
The Chair reminded the Board that Care Leavers week would run from 25- 29 October 2021 as part of this, there would be training to the Board from Middlesbrough Care leavers.
Fostering and Adoption
The Chair finally addressed residents of the Town, expressing if they required any information regarding fostering or adoption to get in touch with Middlesbrough Council.