Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Susie Blood
Apologies for Absence
The Chair received the 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.
The minutes and action plan from the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Board held on 21 April 2021 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 services advised that the Covid-19 update was agreed to be presented to the Corporate Parenting Board, along with the two children’s scrutiny panels as long as it was appropriate to do so.
The Director outlined that there had been a spike in covid 19 rates. Middlesbrough has an infection rate of 1,359.6 per 100,000 population and back on 21 April 2021 the infection rate was 26.2 per 100,000 population. This has had a significant impact on schools, the list of schools where bubbles have burst and staff are self -isolating has risen.
To date, 38 schools have had burst bubbles, 173 staff are self-isolating and 2,045 children are self-isolating.
In terms of staffing, the Chief Executive has advised that all staff must work from home, except unless there are exceptional circumstances and all council meetings, which do not require a decision will continue to be held virtually.
With the summer holidays and rate of covid, there is a need to keep an eye on service delivery to children and young people.
In terms of children looked after who are self-isolating, however the Head of Virtual Schools advised she would circulate a report to members in due course.
That the update be noted
Information regarding number of children looked after self-isolating to be circulated to Board members.
The Head of Strategic Services and the Participation Officer will provide a presentation to the Board.
The Chair welcomed the Head of Strategic Services and Participation officer to the meeting.
The Head of Strategic Services outlined that the participation work-stream has been a victim of Covid, as the suspension of physical meetings has had an effect on participation of children and young people nationally. Covid has affected how the Council has been able to progress the voice and influence and strategic planning. Children and young people have been involved in the past year with virtual learning so there was a degree of screen fatigue and therefore trying to engage outside school virtually has been difficult at times.
To conquer this, the team have redesigned the Participation Strategy, with the focus on recovery. To assist with this, the Head of Services had used vacant positions to resource a company called Participation People, who will work with the Council to deliver a year Participation Service for children and young people in Middlesbrough.
Participation People deliver award-winning youth voice development & evaluation projects and training, with public and charity organisations across the UK. They have worked with/are continuing to work with other local authorities including Birmingham, Greenwich and Dorset and the Participation People contributed to achieving the highest election turnout in a seven year history of the Young Mayor scheme, standing at 73% of young people voting in the London Borough of Newham Council.
The Team have developed a road map and this will be delivered to the Participation and Communication Board, which will outline the key pieces of work to be undertaken.
Some of the work which Participation People will be involved in is as follows:
· Over the next 6 months, the will be working on a campaign to support our understanding of identity of young people and families in our town to improve the way the Council support them. Looking at “what makes me”, which was highlighted in the Ofsted Inspection report.
· There will be a focus on youth participation and engagement events that will be ran over the next 12 months for Middlesbrough Youth Participation champions and Corporate Parents.
· Re-design the engagement strategy to support how we can engage young people after lockdown.
· Strengthen the involvement of SEND children and young people and hard to reach group in all participation activities.
In terms of good news stories, the Head of Strategic Services advised the following:
· One of the Care Leavers, Xavier started his apprenticeship with Middlesbrough Council as the new Youth Training Development Officer.
· 2 of our young people from the Care Leavers Forum have been asked to join the Middlesbrough Family Placement Panel.
· Working closely with the SEN team to start developing a new SEN focus group for young people.
· The Participation Team are working with the Task and Finish group for NEET/Care leavers in order to make opportunities more available to our young people.
· Our young people did a great job attending the briefing for ‘Your Voice and Influence’ as part of ‘Our Middlesbrough Family Week’. They had lots of comments about how well ... view the full minutes text for item 21/97
Performance figures aligned to the Corporate Parenting Strategy
The Director of Children’s Care and the Analytics Manager will provide a report and presentation to the Board (information to follow)
The Analytics Manager was in attendance and provided the Board with information relating to the Corporate Parenting Board scorecard.
The main points to note were as follows:
Numbers and trends
CP1- Number of children in care in Middlesbrough-Trend
• Children looked after numbers have vastly improved, dropping down below the 550 mark for the first time in 13 months and continue to decrease month on month.
• Children looked after were down 19% in comparison to the same point last year and 24% down in comparison to the highest number recorded in July-2020 at 692.
• In recent months between May and June this year Children looked after have decreased by 2.1%, below the 2020-21 target.
CP2- Gap between Middlesbrough and Regional Children in care Rate per 10,000 – Trend
• The rate of Looked after Children per 10,000 started to steadily decline in August-2020, recently reaching the lowest rate in 13 months at 56.51 - a 8.4% decrease in comparison to the same point last year.
• Though still remain above all external benchmarks, we are showing significant improvement.
CP3. Ratio of children entering to leaving care – Trend
• The ratio of children starting a period of care was showing a steep decline, while those ceasing a period of care is showing a sharp increase. The ratio of children entering to leaving care was down by 81% in June-21, in comparison to the highest point in Aug/Sept-20. The current value is below the 2020-21 target.
CP4. Proportion of total CS budget spent on CiC services – Trend
• The proportion of total Children's Services budget spend on Children in Care services has improved significantly since Sept-20 at 79.40%.
• Though in comparison to Q4 2020-21 the proportion has increased by 1.4% in Q1 2021-22, remaining above the 2020/21 Target by 3.3%.
CP5. FTE Caseloads between 15-20 – Trend
• FTE Caseloads between15-20 reveals the peak caseload % was in January -2021 at 41.80%, still 2.9% below the 2020-21 target.
• The steady decline started in February -2021, slightly peaking in May- 2021, improving to 28% in June-21.
CP6. Average number of weeks children spend in care (Ceasing Care in Month) – Trend
• The average number of weeks’ children spend in care displays peaks in January 2020, with the highest recorded in Aug-20 at 361.00, a 162.45% difference between the lowest number of weeks recorded in June-2020.
• Since the peak, the average number of weeks have improved, falling below the 2020-21 Target. This highlights the positive turnaround for children in care, with increases in those ceasing care month-on-month.
CP7. % of CiC where plan of permanence has been ratified – Trend
• The % of children in care where a plan of permanence has been agreed gradually increased month-on month, recently exceeding the 2021-21 target by 4% in June-21. This highlights that the timeliness of permanence agreements are significantly improving.
CP8. % of permanence arrangements resulting in Special Guardianship Order (SGO) –Trend
• The % of ... view the full minutes text for item 21/98
The Residential Services Manager will provide the Board with a presentation on the Annual fostering report.
The Head of Residential Services provided an overview of the Foster Carer data set for 2020/21. He advised that the report sent to the DFE was huge and therefore the information has been streamlined, however if members wished to have the full report could be sent to Members if required.
The Residential Manger provided details in relation to the following:
· Fostering Households – as of 31 March 2021 there were 145 number of households and 264 places.
· Fostering Households by Care type- the Board were advised that those offering longer term placements had reduced and this was part of the recruitment strategy in the future, this included speaking to short term foster carers regarding their terms. There was an increase of foster to adopt and work was underway with a number of connected carers who had a special guardianship order (SGO)
· Number of households approved in the year (and trend)- see above
· Placement use at 31 March 2021- there were currently 160 children placed with foster carers; 45 vacant places; 55 places not available (due to needs of the child or illness of foster carer) and 4 short break placements.
· De-registerations in the year and reasons- 2 foster carers de-registered last year as they decided to care for the children for longer term under a SGO; 11 foster carers left the service or to work in other areas; 11 left due to standard of care issues. The average of de-registrations is about 10% so Middlesbrough is slightly higher, however this could be down to a number of issues.
· Application in the year by status
· Number of not available places at 31 March 2021 and reasons- key information regarding
· Number of Carers at 31 March 2021 by ethnicity- foster carers are predominantly white British (235 out of 248 foster carers) however part of the recruitment strategy was to recruit foster carers from other ethnicities.
· Number of Carers at 31 March 2021 by training status- the training for foster carers has gone from strength to strength. There had been 199 work books completed and the service have developed their own training offer and since this going live there have been 380 courses completed by foster carers. There was a robust training offer and the service was now looking at designing further training surrounding life story work etc.
· Complaints- there had been 1 complaint which was not upheld, this was dealt with swiftly.
· Allegation- 6 allegation were raised (4 made by children and 2 made by other sources)
The Manager finally stated that he wanted to praise the foster carers during the last 18 months due to the unprecedented pressure covid-19 had placed on them. He advised that nationally foster carers numbers were low, however Middlesbrough was working with their partners in practice in North Yorkshire at ways they recruit foster carers and there was currently a recruitment campaign in place.
The Manager had also met with the Commissioner, who had provided details of local authorities who were seeing an increase in foster ... view the full minutes text for item 21/99
Any other urgent items which in the opinion of the Chair, may be considered.
Ofsted Focus Visit
The Director of Children’s Services advised that there had been an Ofsted Focused Visit and the report was published on 15.07.2021. The Director outlined she would circulate a presentation to Board members and if there were specifics that the Board members wishes to focus on, this could be added to the agenda going forward.
The visit was conducted by 4 social care and 1 educational inspector , who looked at the service with a covid lense.
They were generally pleased with the Local Authority had dealt with the situation and Middlesbrough had put in place the major incident plan swiftly and we put in place new ways of working across the Council.
There were some positive comments made in relation to partnerships, especially the way the local authority engaged with schools , however there were comments made that the Local authority need to understand more about children missing from education.
In terms of main findings:
· Demand for children’s services has steadily increased over the past year
· Front door work has improved.
· Inspectors provided positive comments in relation to our work with children and the relationships with children and young people in terms of care leavers.
· Social work is focused.
In terms of improvement:
· We have Variability in practice
· Lack of suitable foster placements in children’’ homes but this is external.
· too many care leavers in NEET
There was a significant focus on Education and the Inspector stayed focused mainly on virtual schools.
There looked to ensure that children were in registered provision, rather than unregistered and that 2 children had their appropriate education provision.
The visit was varied and they inspectors looked at SEND provision
There were two additional recommendation from the focused visit, which were additional to the recommendations made at the full ofted visit which are being worked on regulary.
Firstly, we needed Management oversight for those vulnerable children and those with special needs and secondly, the Local Authority need to focus on the identity of children and young people and their diverse needs.
The Commissioner had been working with Middlesbrough over the past week and would be writing to the Minister. Initial feedback was positive.
Looking towards an Ofsted Monitoring visit which would come at the end of the year/ early 2022.
Corporate Reference Group
The Director of Children’s Services outlined that the group which is Chaired by the Chief Executive which looked at two aspects. The first looks at how all the Council Directorates can contribute to children’s improvement agenda and there is a plan in place. Secondly, how the Council can redevise Middlesbrough Children Matter, so that there is a whole council commitment. The Chief Executive outlined that they thought they had a set of outcomes which they thougth were correct for children and young people, however young people need to be the leaders on this and there was a plan for consultation in place, so that they were written in a child/young person friendly way.
This was due to ... view the full minutes text for item 21/100