Agenda and draft minutes

You Matter to Us - Corporate Parenting Board - Wednesday 14th September, 2022 1.00 pm

Venue: Mandela room

Contact: Susie Blood 

No. Item




The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting and a round of introductions took place.


Members observed one minute’s silence as a mark of respect following the recent death of Queen Elizabeth II.



Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received by Councillors Higgins, Saunders and J Walker.


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- 27 July 2022 pdf icon PDF 1 MB


The minutes from the Corporate Parenting Board held on 27 July 2022 were submitted and agreed as a true record.


Ofsted update pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Sue Butcher, Director of Children’s Services will provide an update from Ofsted to the Board.

Additional documents:


Sue Butcher, Director of Children’s Services provided members of the Corporate Parenting Board with an update from the Ofsted Monitoring visit held in July 2022.


The monitoring visit was the fifth visit by Ofsted since the full inspection of Children’s Services in November/December 2019 which judged the service as inadequate overall. (Report published Jan 2020).  Children’s services were give two weeks preparation and the visit took place over 2 days on 13/14th July 2022. The monitoring visit was undertaken by two inspectors and reviewed the following:


        The front door service that receives contacts and referrals

        Child protection enquiries,

        Early help assessments

        Step-up and step down to early help  


The Director outlined the positives and areas that need focus for each area. However the headline findings were as follows:




        Front door services have continued to develop and improve overseen by the Improvement Board

        Robust and comprehensive quality assurance programme ensures leaders have an accurate understanding of practice and its impact on children and families Expansion of the offer of early help support to vulnerable children

        Stronger and wider partnerships in the Multi agency children’s hub (MACH)

        Improving the quality of information,

        The richness of information-sharing

        Leading to better informed decision making.


 Areas needing focus


        Workforce instability and increased demand in the assessment service have slowed down throughput

        Additional pressure on some social workers’ caseloads and quality of practice

        Unfinished assessments and incomplete records have led to delays and risks being fully assessed for some children


The Board were advised that the areas needing focus would become part of the refreshed Children’s Services Improvement Plan which was monitored on a six-weekly basis by the Multi-Agency Strategic Improvement Board (MASIB).


The most significant area of concern remained the recruitment and retention of experienced, permanent social workers as this affects all of the area needing focus as set out above. Colleagues from Human Resources are reporting to the next MASIB meeting on the continuing efforts to recruit and retain such staff.   Further information on this would be brought back to the Board at a future meeting.


Next steps were as follows:


·        Next monitoring visit would take place in November 2022 focusing on Care experienced young people.


·        Annual engagement conversation (across children’s services) in December 2022.


·        Judgement inspection – possible February 2023.


·        The Director lastly thanked everyone across the service for their dedication to evident that ‘Middlesbrough Children matter’.   



Following the presentation, the panel had a conversation regarding social workers and demand on the front door. In May and June they had been significant demand on the service in terms of children’s assessments due to social workers leaving the local authority. Whilst this wasn’t the case in July 2022, Ofsted were made aware of this flux in demand.


Another Board member also raised concern about potential future challenges that might hit the service as social world changes and the financial pressures. This in turn would create more demand on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/14


Performance against Corporate Parenting Board Strategy

Rachel Farnham, Director of Children’s Care will present the scorecard to the Board ( this will be circulated on the day of the meeting for information)



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.


Key findings August 2022 were as follows:


CP1: Number of children in Care in Middlesbrough- Trend

·         Number of children and young people open to social care, in particular Children looked after shows a fluctuated trend since September 2021.

·         Children looked after numbers vastly improved. They dropped down below the 500 mark in January 2022, reaching 535 in August 2022- a 1% decrease prior to last month.

·         Children looked after are down 1% in comparison to 12 month prior.


CP2: gap between Middlesbrough and Regional Children in Care (CiC) per 10,000- trend

·         The rate of Looked after children per 10,000 shows a fluctuating trend in the last 12 months reaching the lowest rate in January 2022 at 39.91.


·         The rate increased in recent months, reaching 53.49 in August 2022- still a 3% decrease in comparison to the previous month.


·         Middlesbrough remain above all external benchmarks, and have fallen below our 2020/21 outturn.


CP3: Ration of children entering to leaving care- Trend

·         The number of children starting a period of care remaining stable, until recent months when the ratio increased. Scorecard shows that in August 2022, for every 09. Children starting care 1 ceased. The ratio still remains below the 2020/21.

CP4: Average number of weeks children spend in care (Ceasing care in month) –Trend

·         The average number of weeks children spend in care has shown a fluctuating trend in the last 12 months. The number of weeks reached in September 2021 at 249.73.

·         In August 2022, the average number of weeks fell below the 2021/22 target (132.40) again, reaching 97.90.

CP8: % of permanence arrangements resulting in Special Guardianship order (SGO)- trend

·         The % of permanence arrangements resulting in SGO remains above or meets the 2020/21 target, 20%, the last 12 months.

·         This shows great improvements across Children’s social care, with regard to the reasoning for CLA ceasing.

CP10.1: % of children who ceased to be looked after in the period, who were adopted- Trend

The % of children who ceased to be looked after during the period, who were adopted hs remained relatively stable across the last 12 months.

In August 2022 the % reached 10%, a 1% decrease in comparison to last month and a 1% increase in comparison to 12 months prior.

CP9: % of CIC placed with parents on care orders at home- trend

·         The number of children in care placed with parents on care orders at home exceeds the 2020/21 target (5%) across all months.

·         The % slowly declined, reaching the lowest recorded in February 2022 at 7.20%. Though the % has since increased reaching 9.35% in August 2022.


Fostering Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 557 KB

Paul Rudd, Head of Service- Future for Families will provide information on the Quarter 1 fostering data to the Board


The Head of Looked after children and Corporate Parenting Board provided the 2022-2023 quarterly report in relation to fostering in Middlesbrough for the period April- June 2022.

The Head of service provided a table with key data, including for example, number of initial enquiries, number of fostering families and information on number of children placed within in-house fostering and Independent fostering agencies (IFAs). Key statistics included, were as follows:


Number of enquiries - Quarter 1 (22/23)  63 (28 at Quarter 4 21/22)

Number of initial visits – Quarter 1 (22/23) 5 (14 at Quarter 4 21/22)

Number of children placed in-house fostering- Quarter 1 (22/23) 191 ( 180 at quarter 4 21/22)

IFA – Quarter 1 (22/23) 145 (same as quarter 4 21/22)


In terms of what was going well the Board were advised of the following:

        Middlesbrough now have the highest number of children placed with in-house fostering families.

March 2019 IFA 154 Inhouse 124 - 44%

March 2020 IFA 160 Inhouse 158 - 50%

March 2021 IFA 163 Inhouse 164 - 50 %

March 2022 IFA 145 Inhouse 180-  55%

June 2022 IFA 145 Inhouse 191 - 57 %

        There has been an increase in fostering enquiries due to the sustained marketing campaign; to date. Middlesbrough have received 63 enquiries which exceeds our target of 46 by the end of July 2022.

        88% of Foster Carer reviews were held within timescales

        No connected carers assessments have gone out of the 24 week timescale

        Middlesbrough have timescales and practice guidance on connected assessments making them more robust and child-focused

        Middlesbrough have a stable team and two agency workers have now been recruited into permanent posts.

        The introduction of Birth Child, Therapeutic Parenting Support Groups, and a Men Who Foster Group are underway

        10 workers within the team are undertaking a12 month programme of Trauma-Informed Practice training with John Scadden.

        Trauma-Informed supervision sessions with foster carers, Children looked after social workers, and Education and supervising social workers have been introduced to support fragile placements.

        Management oversight and grip continues to increase and is supporting the improvement of practice and compliance across the service.

        The Pilot Constellation for the Mockingbird Project is in place and due to launch in September.

The Head of Service advised that there were concerns regarding the following:


        Connected Carer Referrals have increased by 33% due to influx of children coming into the care of the Local authority, which has increased workload for social worker, creating pressure on timescales and performance. This has seen a rise in 8 week extensions and tasks not completed in 16 weeks.

         While initial enquiries have increased many enquirers do not progress often choosing to progress with an Independent fostering agency (IFA ) due in part to the current financial offer.

        In June a fostering family, long-term matched with 3 Middlesbrough children, transferred to an IFA at a considerable long-term cost to the LA; in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/16


Future for Families- Transition report. pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Rob Hamer, Service Manager, Future for Families, will provide an evaluation report to the Board.

Additional documents:


Rob Hamer, Service Manager for Future for Families was in attendance to provide the Board with a project end report.


He advised the Board that The Future for families service was within the strengthening families protecting children programme from September 2022 until August 2022. The service has now come out of the project stage and the partnership with North Yorkshire has ended.


The Manager provided information on the following:


-       Our referrals and support


Within the 2 year pilot, the Manager advise that they had support over 100 young people. The service begin to with heavy support with outreach but this started to reduce in the summer of 2021 and the resources went to support the complex cases within the residential hub. It is proposed that the edge of care service will restart again in November 2022.


-       Our specialist support


Overall within the Authority there has been a 12.3% reduction in the number of missing episodes.


59% of young people supported by the service, has received some form of specialist service e.g. speech and language


-       OFSTED

Within the 2 years, the service has been Ofsted inspected 2 times since the service was registered in August 2020. In October 2021, the service was rated good with outstanding leadership and management. In context, the service was rated the highest amongst the programme.


-       Our impact (cost avoidance)

This tracks the cost of the child up until their 18th birthday.  The manager advised that there was an estimated cost avoidance of 56% of forecasted spend.

-       OUR young people

The manager finally provided some facts in relation to the hub over the last 2 years, including for example:


Ø  Future for families has supported 102 young people

Ø  29 young people have accessed the HUB.

Ø  100% of young people accessing the hub received support from all specialist support.


The Manager also advised after a number of queries, that where possible they try to keep and support young people in Middlesbrough, as long as the support provided fits their need.


There is evidence that inhouse support is better rather than outsourcing, and therefore the fostering offer, social work and residential offer was also discussed, due to the demand for this service and referrals from the MACH.

The manager was thanked for his presentation.


AGREED- That the information be noted.



Nominet digital REACH programme pdf icon PDF 461 KB

Ralph Jordinson, Risk and Resilience Manager and Louisa Jefferson, Digital Policy Apprentice will provide an update to the Board.

Additional documents:


The Chair welcome Ralph Jordinson , Risk and Resilience manager and Louise Jefferson to the meeting to provide an update on Nominet – REACH- Digiwise.


As way of background the manager advised that in March 2021, Middlesbrough Council were successful in a funding application for £36,220 which is to research, consult and produce a policy/practice document for digital safeguarding for Children Looked After and Children Leaving Care.

Funding by Parentzone and Nominet was allocated to 9 interlinked projects under 3 key areas of which Middlesbrough’s sits within Design Challenge 3, that 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-utilised in relation to digital and online safety policy development.

More specifically the project was 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; diversify and improve channels of communication and feedback.

This is based on significant risks posed to Children Looked After (CLA) being at risk of online grooming and exploitation, exposure pornography, peer pressure to send youth produced sexual imagery and access to drug sales and other harmful products usually via social media. 

Since reporting at the last board meeting, the manager provided information on the progress so far;


a)     Employed and trained a care experienced apprentice training in Impact Measurement and Management.

b)     Steering group formed inclusive of young people representation and developed action plan with progress milestones.  Established the project name ‘Digiwise’.

c)     Designing and implementing consultation for young people with care experience.

d)     Hosted a series of consultation workshops, focus groups and events capturing young peoples views.

e)     Consulted with 35 young people within quantitative surveys, 5 young people within qualitative ‘deep dive’ surveys and multiple others within focus groups and workshops. The target was 100 young people but sadly this wasn’t met.

f)       Promoted recognised CPD programme of learning for foster carers, residential workers and social workers.

g)     Promoted the adoption of the UKCIS Digital Passport for children and young people in care.

h)     Developed with young people a smartphone holder for all care experienced young people with QR code for a quick and easy access to resources.

Since the last Corporate Parenting Board in February 2022 the survey has been completed and the key findings of the Digiwise project were as follows:

        Most of our young people are exposed to some form of adversity in online spaces, these issues are far reaching and usually involve social media.

        Young people want data plans and do not want data limited.

        That internet speeds are slow and could be better across all settings.

        There was limited evidence of consistent approaches and overall effectiveness of acceptable use agreements and use of online safety contracts in care homes. This is sometimes that needs to be explored further e.g a digital pledge

        Young people want quick  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/18


Participation of Children and Young People pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Kathy Peacock, Voice and Influence Manager and Xavier Davies, Apprentice Youth Training & Development Officer will provide an update to the Board.


Kathy and Xavier will also be joined by Adam Hart, CAMHS / HeadStart Business Administrator Apprentice.




The Chair welcome Kathy Peacock, Voice and Influence Manager to the meeting to provide the Board with the standard item regarding the participation of Middlesbrough’s children and young people.


The Manager firstly advised the purpose of the Team, which was to:


facilitate open,safe, and inclusive spaces for care experienced young

people/adults to come together.


We provide fun activities for them to tell you what is important to them, so you can improve the support they and others receive.


The Team support


·         Care experienced young people to get involved, have a voice and create events to hear from more young people/adults.

·         Young people to share their views with key decision makers and professionals, who will act on what they say and positively change services to meet their needs.


Membership of the Children in Care Council (CiCC) for 10-16 year olds. Meet fortnightly.

·         Three young people in the same foster placement

·         One young person in foster care

·         One young adult in supported housing (Young Leader for the group)

·         One young person with SEND in a residential home (he is seen at his home to capture his views)


Membership of the Care Leavers Forum (CLF) for 16 - 25 year olds. This will however be put on pause whilst the weekly pop up cafes take place- see below information)

·         One young adult in supported housing (same person who attends the CiCC)

·         Care leaver who has a young child

Over the last 6 weeks, the Board were advised of the following activities of the Team:



Started delivering our Communication and

Language training - Seven professionals


Two Social Workers

A Personal Advisor

Senior Resource Worker

Deputy Manager

Head of Resources ISSS

Care Manager

One of the keys things the young people  did was reading out statements telling Professionals what looked after young people and care leavers want (outlined within the agenda pack)


Met with Ralph Jordinson from Digiwise

(Middlesbrough Council).

He listened to the young peoples’ views and these will influence next steps.

Collaborated with Pathways and

Middlesbrough Football Foundation and

held our 'Stepping up Together' Football

event on the 4th August.

31 young people joined in (including five from Redcar and Cleveland). All the young people had a great time, met new people and had burgers/bacon sandwich for lunch. 26 staff supported the event including Pathways, Middlesbrough Foundation, Digiwise team, Paula Jemson, Rob Brown and Carlos

Dos Santos.

Three members of the CiCC and a member

of the Middlesbrough Youth Council went to

the Climate Change Conference at Redcar

and Cleveland College

Young people heard about how long things take to degrade and what things we can do to save

energy and save the planet.

Held a Picnic in Stewart's Park for care

experienced young people. Nine young

people came along. We were visited by Cllrs

Barrie Cooper, Cllr Alma Hellaoui, Paula

Jemson and Rachel Farnam. Two foster

carers, a social worker and her dog, one

support staff from Holly Lodge, a resource

and two staff members from strategic

services .  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/19


Adoption Tees Valley- Annual report pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Vicky Davison- Boyd, Service Manager will provide an overview of the annual report to the Board.


The Chair welcome Vicky Davison – Boyd Service Manager for Adoption Tees valley (ATV) to provide an overview of the key findings and information from the annual report.


 The annual report covered the period 1.4.2021- 31.3.2022.


Overall ATV has continued with slightly lower levels of adoption activity overall within this year, with numbers of children being placed with adoptive parents.


Within the Tees valley and Middlesbrough:


        Slight reduction in children referred overall

Middlesbrough has had an increase with 61 referrals, 58 previous year


        Fewer children with an adoption plan (ADM)

Middlesbrough has remained the same- 33 ADM each year


        Marginal reduction in Placement Orders (POs)

Middlesbrough has had a marginal reduction 28 PO’s, 30 previous year


        Fewer children placed

Middlesbrough has increased placements with 26 placements, 24 previous year

        Fewer adoption orders granted

Middlesbrough has had a slight decrease – 24 AO’s,  25 previous year


        1 disruption in this year- finding the right family for the child.

        4 of the 13 children placed for adoption have been from ethnic minority background.

The Manager provided some statistics for the Tees Valley in respect to placements and placement orders as well as early permanence. The board were advised that it is a fully system change and takes a great deal of consideration before placing a child on their journey to adoption. There has been a great deal of training undertaken with local authorities and sharing good practice. 


The Child’s adoption journey was also shared with the Board.


In terms of timescales, there has been a real improvement and there has been a lot of work undertaken into early permanence and early family finding and supporting children in finding placements close to their home.

There has been a significant improvement in the time between starting care and moving in with adoptive parents;


        Middlesbrough 301 days , 385 previous year (target is 426 days)

        Overall ATV – 383 days, compared to 445 England average

        Significant improvement in time from Placement order to match

Middlesbrough 189 days, 301 days previous year ( target is 121 days)

        Overall ATV – 174 c/w 198 days England Average

        On 31.3 22 only 1 child with a Placement order was not linked

In terms of National and regional trends:

        slight increase in adoption orders nationally , decrease regionally in 2021-22, c/w previous year

        Fewer placements nationally and regionally c/w 2020-21

        Fewer ADM’s and PO’s than previous year

The manager also referred to the somerset ruling, which had previously been discussed with the Board. The Somerset ruling was a legal case around requirements of the medical advisor in relation to ADM. It was impacted on adoption activity and ATV know that 14 children were delayed in being matched and placed due to the ruling.


In terms of adopter approvals, there have been fewer adopters approved than previous years, 46 compared to 64 previous year. Fewer people have enquired, however ATV are now seeing the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/20


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