Contact: Susie Blood
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.
The minutes from the Corporate Parenting Board held on 18 January 2022 were read and accepted as a true record.
Covid- 19 update
The Director of Children’s Services will provide a verbal update to the Board.
The Director of Children’s Serbices provided a verbal update in relation to Covid 19.
The Director advised that in terms of schools, the levels of covid have started to decrease as are approaching half term and now schools are focusing on understanding the disruption caused to learning caused by the pandemic. Attendance oversight of the most vulnerable children is a key priority to the Council as well as safeguarding, as pointed out by the letter from Indra Morris, Director General for Children’s Services, Communications & Strategy Group for the DFE.
The letter which was sent to all DSO’s outlines the importance of supporting our most vulnerable children as we move out of the pandemic, so the safeguarding partnership was looking closely at this e.g partners are working with Virtual School Heads to support the attendance of Children Looked After and the extended group of children with a social worker which they support.
In terms of children’s social care, it is business as usual.
The Director queried whether the Board would consider looking at the frequency of covid 19 update. The Board agreed that this would be updated at every other meeting, however if the situation changed, this could be reviewed.
Hannah Wiseman, Progamme Manager - Specialist and Targeted will provide an update to the Board.
The Chair welcome, Kathy Peacock, Youth Voice and Influencer Contractor from Participation People to the meeting, who provided an overview of the work undertaken with children and young people since January 2022. The Board also were pleased to welcome Xavier Davies, Care Leaver / apprentice for Middlebrough Council who was now working directly with Participation on Care to promote in care Councils.
The Board were provided with a quick recap of the role of participation and the key officers assigned to Middlesbrough. Kathy explained she joined Participation People in November 2021, 2 days a week to help Middlesbrough Council re-establish the in care councils. Other than the in care councils, there were other projects, however the Board would be updated on these in due course.
In terms of progress to date, the Board were advised that:
· Over the Christmas period, 135 care leavers were messaged telling them about the Care Leavers Forum. Seven young people joined and actively join on a Thursday evening.
· The In Care councils are being promoted and Kathy has meet with key managers to inform them about the groups. All teams sent invites for their young people to attend the Mini Children in Care Council (CiCC), Children in Care Council (CiCC ) and Care Leavers Forum. This is done on a strategic level to help improve and deliver services.
· Mid- January launch of the Care Experienced #YouthVoice groups.
· Mini CiCC - 3 sessions held for children aged 7 to 12 years. Unfortuantly there have been no young people at these sessions. The groups were still held and promoted with foster carers/ social workers , however experience, it is harder to get this age range to come out therefore a day of fun activities was planned for 24 February 2022 , as part of a recruitment drive and gain a sense of whether young people wish to attend the group, or whether they want a different type of engagement.
· Children in Care Council - this group meets weekly. 4 sessions have been held and 2 young people participate. These are amazing young people who have helped design events and look at ways to engage further for children in care.
· Care Leaver's Forum - this group meets weekly. 4 sessions have been held and as stated 7 young people have engaged.
· Kathy has attended the Designated Teacher conference, emails to be sent informing them about the groups to share with their young people.
· The officer advised that they were flexible to engage with young people.
· Joined the closed Middlesbrough Fostering Facebook group – and posted regarding the sessions. Kathy received questions regarding these so she was able to promote and explain further about the groups.
The Board further heard from Xavier, who shared the posters which had been designed to promote the groups. The Board were keen for these to be promoted, and these would be circulated to the group after the meeting as well as the Virtual Schools. The posters had been ... view the full minutes text for item 21/52
The Head of Residential Services will provide the Board with information on the quarter 3 fostering data.
The Head of Fostering was in attendance to provide the Board with the quarter 3 fostering data. The Board had received previous reports, which had shaped the way the information was to be presented to the Board. This quarterly report was based on the data requirements set out in the Ofsted Fostering Data Set, which was a statutory return compiled using data as of the 31 March each year.
In terms of what was working well within the fostering service and supporting lodgings, the Team Manaager advised the Board that:
• Social workers and Supported Lodgings worker receive monthly reflective supervision
• Workers continue to scale themselves on average 7/8 out of 10 in respect to work satisfaction
• Increased levels of compliance and Management Oversight evidenced within fostering family records
• New policies have been introduced to staff and fostering families
• We have devised a 12 month training program which includes face to face training from BAAF and e-learning from the Training Hub – all specific to the training needs identified within the team. Providing them with clarify of purpose.
• Supported Lodgings Providers are now enjoying monthly formal supervision and the opportunity to attend ... view the full minutes text for item 21/53
Ralph Jordinson, Risk and Resilience Coordinator and Louise Jefferson, Digitcal Policy Apprentice will provide the Board with an update on the Nominet digital REACH programme.
The Chair welcomed Ralph Jordinson – Risk and resilience coordinator and Louisa Jefferson - Digital policy apprentice to the meeting. Nominet REACH – Digiwise.
In March 2021 we were successful in securing in a bid to research, consult and construct a policy document for children looked after and children leaving care regarding online access. This was funding through an online organisation called Nominet, who are the leading organisation and this national programme was in partnership with parentzone, and it covers 9 interlinked projects coving 3 challenges 1) building foster carers skills and confidence, 2) embedding digital skills and support, 3) elevating young people’s voice to influence services that impact their digital safety and opportunity.
Purpose of the report was to develop a policy / best practice document for children looked after and children leaving care online access. It was noted that Care experienced young people have invaluable insight which is currently under-used in relation to digital and online safety policy development.
In terms of progress so far, the following have been undertaken:
a) Employed an apprentice who has care experience.
b) Project lead and the apprentice have been trained in Impact Measurement and Management and developed a ‘Theory of Change’ and young person blog. The Apprentice explained that the Theory of Change plan would identify the problems that we see for children in care and the risk for then whilst online ,and to see how we would address these issues and what the overall plan would be. The Theory of change was developed as was a child / young person’s friendly version. Following this, after a meeting with parents (one of the key stakeholders) they suggested that a blog be created by the care leavers, explaining what is good and what improvements could be made.
c) Consulted with young people and established the survey name: ‘Digiwise’
d) Formed a Steering Group to advise on key issues
e) Developed an action plan which drives the project
f) Hosted a care leavers football match and consultation event at Middlesbrough Football Community Foundation
g) Designed and implemented a consultation survey for young people with care experience
h) Designed a consultation survey for Foster Carers, Residential Workers and Social Workers.
i) Is in the process of undertaking all consultation in g) and h) above
Early indications from the young peoples’ survey (17 young people took part, however the steering group has increased) showed :
· 100% are accessing the internet
· 93% access 1 or more social media account as their main activity
· 60% of the young people surveyed are going online for more than 8 hours per week,
· 87% are using their smartphone as the main device to access the internet, but choosing their own data plans over the residential home internet connection, this is because they have unlimited access data plans (this potentially poses a risk if there are no filters or controls enabled)
· 60% of young people surveyed reported that they had seen the sale of drugs ... view the full minutes text for item 21/54
The Director of Children’s Care and the Head of Looked after children and Corporate Parenting 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 Head of Service 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.
The main points to note were as follows:
DEMAND- In February 2021 there were 586 children looked after in the authority. This has reduced to 500 at the end of January 2022. This has been a constant decrease. As of today (15 February 2022) Middlesbrough had 495 children looked after.
· There has been a rapid reduction over the year demonstrating a decrease of 14.6% over the last 12 months and an overall 28.7% reduction since the height of 702 children in September 2020. For every 0.6 children entering care, one child exits care. This ratio has been maintained for 7 months.
· In February 2021 the gap between Middlesbrough’s rate of looked after children per 10,000 of the children population and that of the region was 70.69. This has consistently reduced over the last 12 months and is currently 42.93.
· As of today Middlesbrough’s rate per 10,000 is 149. Our statistical neighbor rate is that of 134.
· Caseloads have consistently reduced since August 2021 and throughout the improvement journey.
· Whilst the average per service area varies slightly, the average caseloads across Children’s social care is currently 16.7. This will support the service to drive improvements in the quality of practice.
· 22 children ceased to be looked after in January 2022 (CHAT 07.02.22).
· Of the children that ceased to become looked after they had spent an average of 104 weeks in care.
· This is a reduction from December 2021 where it took those children who had secured permanence longer.
· Of the 22 children that ceased to be looked after:
Ø 4 were adopted
Ø 6 SGO/Residence Orders
Ø 8 turned 18 years of age
Ø 3 returned to family
Ø 1 other
· Children Placed with Parents - The number of children placed with a parent and subject to a Care Order has reduced significantly since February 2021. There are currently 39 children placed with a parent. This was a 60% overall reduction since the height on 99 children in September 2020. This is supported with a plan which is reviewed.
· Connected Carers – There were currently 105 children in connected carers placements. The overall numbers have reduced from 108 in December 2021. This has reduced from a height of 212 in 2020 (50.4%).
· Adoption - The average number of days from entering care to being placed in an adoptive placement was 380. This has reduced from a height of 558 days in 2019/20 to 382 days in October 2021. (Adoption Score Care data for Q2)
· Less than 5% of the looked after population have experienced a placement breakdown in the last 12 months.
· In January 2021, 9.8% of looked after children had ... view the full minutes text for item 21/55
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider passing a Resolution Pursuant to Section 100A (4) Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972 excluding the press and public from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that if present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information falling within paragraph 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act and the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.
ORDERED that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items on the grounds that, if present, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 and that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
Children Missing from Care
Jeff Watson, Risk and Reduction Manager will provide a presentation to the Board.
The Risk and Reduction Manager provided the Board with a presentation in relation to children missing from Care.
AGREED- That the information be noted.