Agenda and minutes

You Matter to Us- Corporate Parenting Board - Wednesday 21st April, 2021 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Susie Blood 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for Absence


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


There were no declarations of interest received at this point in the meeting.


Minutes- Corporate Parenting Board- 17 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 394 KB


The minutes of the Corporate Parenting Board meeting held on 17 March 2021 were read and accepted as a true record.


AGREED- That the minutes be approved.


Corporate Parenting Board Action Plan pdf icon PDF 191 KB


The Democratic Services Officer will provide an update on the actions taken from meetings of the Corporate Parenting Board.




The Democratic Services Officer provided an update on the actions taken from the meetings of the Corporate Parenting Board and updated the Board accordingly.


AGREED- That the action plan be noted.


Covid - 19 Update

The Director of Children Service’s will provide a verbal update to the Board.


The Director of Children’s Social Care provided an update in relation to Covid 19. The Director advised that schools returned on 8 March 2021 and have now returned from the Easter break and are learning and teaching.


The impact of bubbles collapsing in schools due to covid-19 was currently low, however there were plans in place in case a third wave of the virus. Testing in schools across Middlesbrough was also working well.


From a social care perspective, the service had seen an increase in demand in terms of front door contact and referrals since 8 March 2021. In March, there were almost 300 more contacts than in February 2021. This was a similar trend to September 2020 when restrictions were eased, so there is a continuation and this was being monitored.


Sickness levels within the service remain stable and relatively low. This information is recorded to the Strategic Improvement Board and other parts of the Council




Children Looked after and school attendance


The Director handed over to the Virtual School Head who advised the Board that since schools returned 90% of looked after children were in school and this percentage was in line with Redcar and Cleveland.


As the Virtual school was an improvement journey, they would like attendance to improve and were working with families/ looked after children to address this. The Virtual school was also working alongside the Head of Looked After Children and Corporate Parenting to address this at a strategic level. The Head advised that they have systems in place whereby they will receive daily information from schools on attendance levels of looked after children. This data will indicate whether an absence is authorised or unauthorised. They have set up weekly meetings which consists of the Virtual School Head, a manager from the looked after children team and representatives from health and they use this as a triage system. Within these meetings they will discuss all the barriers which prevent children from attending school (from health needs etc) and we complete this information into a decision making tool, which is sent forwarded to the Team manager and social worker and from there, they will make a choice as to whether action needs to be taken.


From these meetings, the Head of Looked after children and Corporate Parenting Board outlined that they have been able to identity a number of looked after children who require targeted intervention to get them back into school.


In terms of additional work, any actions agreed are included within the personal education plan (PEP) , so that the young person and school are aware of these steps.


The Chair asked whether Welfare call could be explained further as she was aware Middlesbrough utlised this system.

In response, the Head of Virtual Schools outlined that Middlesbrough contracted Welfare Call in 2016 and they will ring schools and ask whether Middlesbrough's looked after children are in attendance d if not, the reasons behind this. This information is then uploaded onto  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/86


Voice of the Child/ Participation update pdf icon PDF 545 KB

The Head of Strategic Services will provide an update to the Board.


The Board will also be introduced to the new Participation Officer.


The Head of Strategic services was welcomed to the meeting and started by providing a background to the importance of participation. The Board were made aware that the Improvement plan was currently being revised and there were 5 key priorities, participation being one of these. This was a key step in children services' roadmap for improvement for the next 6 months.


Within the next 6 months the service aimed to show Middlesbrough children that they matter. The service was doing this through engagement with young people and their families to try and shape services. Once the improvement plan had been signed off by the improvement Board there would be further updates to the Board.


Recruitment changes


The Board were advised that Marcus Myrie, was now in post as the Participation officer.


Marcus would be developing the social care participation element of the operational plan and children in care council. Both Marcus and Laurie Hunter had been working with colleagues within social care to develop the council's future running of the participation groups/ children in care council and have been looking at ways they views can be sought from young people who do not wish to attend these groups and how the service can use these in a meaningful way. The Participation officer was also working with social care and early help to ascertain views of those children elsewhere within social care, for example those children on child protection plans and ensuring their voice is heard within our participation work. The proposal will be presented to the Children's Care Management Team and Directors of Children's Care and once approved, the proposal and roadmap would be presented back to the Corporate Parenting Board.


Children in Care Council


In the meantime, the Participation officer has been keeping in touch with the groups virtually and via weekly telephone calls and encouraging them to get involved with these future proposals. The officer has also been talking to young people who may wish to join and they are looking to hold the first meeting face to face, which would work better for this age cohort.


Care leavers forum


This has continued virtually on a fortnightly service and the officers have been working with the care leavers service (Pathways) to develop this forum and seek views from a range of diverse young people. The service was doing this by improved communication, improving the way the personal assistants work with the care leavers service and looking at how they can set the agenda and work stream so that Middlesbrough young people feel valued and listened too and will help shape services for the future.


The service has also been working with social care collogues to develop voice and influence champions through the social work force, which was part of the Centre for practice excellence. The Service has been working with the Participation counterparts across the region and developing plans to move from Covid to recovery. The Head of service also advised that they were seeking advice nationally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/87


MALAP spotlight- Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update to the Board.


The Chair advised the Board that she had circulated her spotlight report, which was in replace for MALAP sub groups. The report was led by the Chair of Corporate Parenting Board and looked to gain information from other authorities Chairs of Corporate Parenting Board to gain an understanding of their arrangements and to gain good practice.


The Chair spoke and interviewed Chair of Corporate Parenting Boards from five local authorities:


1.    North Yorkshire

2.    Gateshead

3.    Leeds

4.    Hampshire

5.    Wakefield

From the discussions, the Chair outlined that the discussions were extremely interesting for example, one local authority which was rated outstanding was operating very similar to Middlesbrough and came across the same issues, which provided reassurance.


Eleven questions were asked at the interviews, as well as general discussion, which covered the following areas:

·         Critical aspect of the role of Chair of CPB and of members,

·         Training,

·         Engagement,

·         Governance,

·         Accountability,

·         Involvement of sub-groups,

·         Representation across council areas,

·         CiCC and mini CiCC

·         Virtual School,

·         OFSTED

From the discussions, the Chair complied a number of recommendations, a number of which are outlined below:


1.    Establishing a network for Chairs of CPB

2.    Social Workers – retention and recruitment

3.    Caseloads

4.    Foster Carers  - many recommendations for successful engagement and retention

5.    Care Leavers

6.    Care Ambassadors and Young Inspectors

7.    CICC engagement

8.    Voice of the Child

9.    Schools and the Virtual School – regular contacts, updates

10.  social events

11.  Annual Conference

From the presentation, the Director of Children’s Social Care outlined that this piece of work had not been undertaken elsewhere, so Middlesbrough was unique in seeking out good practice in other local authorities. Virtual schools also have an established presence of the Board and provide regular updates, which is a strength in ensuring the Board is regularly kept up to date regarding the education of Middlesbrough’s children looked after.


The Chair was thanked for her contributions by the Board.


AGREED- That the report be noted.







Local Family Justice Board pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Head of Looked after Children and Corporate Parenting and Head of Legal Services (People) will provide a presentation to the Board.


N.B- An update presentation will be provided at the meeting, which will include up to date statistics.


The Chair welcomed the Head of Looked after Children and Corporate Parenting and the Head Legal Services- People to the meeting to provide an overview of the role of the Local Family Justice Board (LFJB) and the role of our legal services in providing support to our looked after children.


As way of introduction, the Head of Legal Services outlined that on a national level, the Family Justice Board was the primary forum for setting direction for the family justice system and overseeing performance and was set up to improve the performance of the family justice system and to ensure the best possible outcomes for children who come into contact with it.


At a local level, Local Family Justice Boards (LFJB) were established to support the work of the Family Justice Board by bringing together the key local agencies, including decision makers and front-line staff, to achieve significant improvement in the performance of the family justice system in their local areas..

The LFJB holds meetings on a quarterly basis and is attended by representatives of those that use the family justice system, including Local Authorities (Legal and Children’s Services), members of the judiciary, CAFCASS, private practice, Barristers, and the local police.


There are also subsidiary groups of the LFJB that look at specific areas such:

             - Local Public Law Working Group

             - Local Private Law Working Group

            -  Police Disclosure Working Group


The Head of Legal Services, briefly discussed the Local Public Law Working Group, which was a local public law working group which works collaboratively to identify issues that affected the local family justice system in regards to public law matters and to agree practical proposals to resolve.

Representatives from both Legal and Children’s Services attend and actively engage in the work carried out.


The Board were made aware of a recent project of the board with regard Care Orders at home, which has been a significant issue in Middlesbrough and regionally.


          The session was aimed at those working within the family justice system across Cleveland and South Durham

          The sessions were agreed as part of the Local Family Justice Board to explore why in the Teesside area we have higher numbers of Care Orders with children placed at home or with connected carers

          The workshop offered 74 places and there were over 200 applicants to attend.

          Aim: To work together to understand when we think Care Order’s at home would be appropriate but also when we may challenge each other about this. This allowed others to challenge (without being attached to a specific case) why a care order was considered the best option.

          Understand what the law tells us about Care Orders at home including what can and can’t be done under a Care Order

          Consider alternatives and specifically the Teesswide Supervision Order policy

          The outcome of the sessions will be fed back to the LFJB group to seek approval/agreement to any recommendations.

          The next project for the Local Public  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/89


Elevating young peoples' voices in digital resilience pdf icon PDF 709 KB

The Risk and Resilience Manager will provide a presentation to the Board.

Additional documents:


The Chair introduced the Risk and Resilience Manager to the Board, who was in attendance to provide information on a successful funding application in relation to elevating young peoples’ voce through digital resilience. The Board had previously received a paper regarding this and the Manager was in attendance to provide further clarity.

In February 2021, a funding opportunity was circulated by Parentzone and Nominet. By way of background, Parentzone is a national organisation which is widely recognised as ‘experts in digital family’ and Nominet is the UK’s official web domain registrar.


Middlesbrough Council submitted a bid under Design Challenge 3, the purpose of which is:


Elevating young peoples’ voice to influence the services that impact on their digital safety and opportunity Care experienced young people have invaluable insight which is currently under-used in relation to digital and online safety policy development.


The Manager outlined that Middlesbrough has a lead in digital resilience, in context started in 2016, when a member scrutiny panel challenged a government policy on youth produced imaginary. The recommendations of the scrutiny review set the Council on its journey to help protect young people. Middlesbrough digital model also came about as direct result of the scrutiny investigation.

The Manager outlined that our children are growing up in a world where there is an increasing need for them to flourish in their use of digital devices and where they need to interact in all areas of the digital world –e.g. School and Work based Apps, Social Media and Gaming  

As corporate parents, we need to ensure our children can compete for jobs (some of which have not been invented) and guide them appropriately.

At present the approach to Digital Parenting for Children looked after and those leaving care in Middlesbrough is inconsistent.

Middlesbrough has therefore been successful in attracting £35,719 funding to:

“ensure care experienced young people can influence the service policies, process and practice that impact on their digital lives we need to extend participation and diversify and improve channels of communication and feedback .”


The bid links to Middlesbrough’s digital resilience model, which has four pillars ; governance of digital excellence; voice of the child; digital parenting and education and workforce development.


The mission statement of the model was as follows:

To develop an online world where children and young people can be nurtured, safe, self-confident and compassionate digital citizens”.



Governance and digital excellence

There is a digital and resilience safeguarding network, which has over 170 participates. If therefore, a threat or alert is issued and posing a risk to young people, the Council can circulate a message to the network. Since 1 January 2021, 10 messages have been issued, which is then passed onto all relevant parties. 


Voice of the child

Students from Middlesbrough College produced a play called ‘To send or not to send regarding youth produced imaginary and was based on Romeo and Juliet. This was shown to over 1,000 12-13 year olds and attracted media attention.

Young ambassadors have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/90


Introduction to the Fostering Annual report

The Head of Service- Future for Families will provide a presentation to the Board.


The Head of Residential services was in attendance to provide a brief update on quarter 4 data, a full breakdown and the Ofsted report would be shared further in June/ July 2021.


The Head of Service advised that there were currently 146 foster carers in Middlesbrough offering 227 placements.


In terms of quarter 4 recruitment, there have been 3 mainstream foster placements and 2 connected. Despite Covid 19, within this quarter there had been 59 enquiries to the Foster Team, 10 households had been approved and 6 households are ongoing at stage 1 and stage 2.


In terms of connected carers, 141 requests; 60 have been temporary approved and 24 had been approved at Panel.


In terms of de-registrations of foster carers, there had been 12 in the last quarter. In terms of comparison from 2019-20, there were 16, so numbers are decreasing. In terms of Connected carers, there had been 7 and some de registrations were due to the children being returned to their parents. The number of de-registrations to private foster agencies has been 2 in 12 years.


In of training, the service took on Board view of the foster carers and were aware most courses ran when foster carers were at work. The service therefore commissioned the Fostering Hub to undertake specific training for foster carers and this was launched in February 2021. In 4 weeks Middlesbrough Foster Carers undertook and completed 386 courses due to the flexibility.

The average age of foster carers was between 50-59.




At quarter 4 there were 161 placements. There were a number of vacant places (31) and this was due to the fact that all of our placements need terms of approval and these may not fit these.  There are also a number of foster placements whose terms of approval are for babies and there has not been a need to take these places.

There were also a number of placements that are not available e.g if there is a sibling group of 3 and 2 are found foster placements and the other sibling isn’t, that is classed as not available. In addition, there may be some young people when they turn 18 who stay with their foster carers and therefore those places become unavailable or placements may not be available due to the health of foster carers.

A Board member queried how many of the 161 placements were of children in Sibling groups and this information would be circulated to Board members at a later date.


In terms of Ofsted, each year Ofsted asks local authority fostering services and independent fostering agencies for data about their fostering services. This is the only national data collection that provides an overview of the fostering landscape.

Ofsted ask all 151 local authority fostering agencies and around 280 independent fostering agencies (IFAs) to provide data on:

       characteristics of foster carers

       terms of approval of fostering households

       capacity and the use of fostering places

       recruitment and retention of fostering households  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/91


Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.