Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday 21st June, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Joanne Dixon 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no Declarations of Interest made by Members at this point in the meeting.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting of the Children & Young People's Social Care & Services Scrutiny Panel - 26 April 2022 pdf icon PDF 271 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting of the Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel held on 26 April 2022 were submitted and approved as a correct record.


Overview of Children's Services pdf icon PDF 1014 KB

The Executive Director of Children’s Services will be in attendance to provide the Panel with a broad overview of the services within Children’s Services which fall within the Panel’s remit and to highlight key priorities, issues and challenges for the year ahead.


The Executive Director of Children’s Services was in attendance at the meeting to provide the Panel with a broad overview of the services within Children’s Services that fell within the Panel’s remit and to also highlight the key priorities, issues and challenges for the Service for the year ahead.


The Panel was already familiar with the ‘Middlesbrough Children Matter’ branding for Children’s Services which was a key priority to show all children in Middlesbrough that they mattered. 


Within Children’s Services staffing structure there was a Director of Education and Partnerships, a Director of Children’s Care and a Head of Strategic Services – all working together as one Service.  Education and Partnerships worked across the whole service and Children’s Social Care promoted better outcomes for vulnerable children.  Children were safest in schools and the education of children looked after was supported through the virtual school.  The Head of Strategic Services supported the Directors in relation to improvement work, such as managing the Improvement Board and Improvement Plan, and having general oversight of audit.


It was acknowledged that there was a separate Children and Young People’s Learning Scrutiny Panel whose remit largely fell within the Education and Partnerships element of the Service, therefore, in terms of this Panel’s remit, details of the Heads of Service within Children’s Social Care were provided as follows:-


·        Head of Early Help and Prevention – Responsible for early help provision pre and post Social Work involvement to support vulnerable families.

·        Head of Referral and Assessment – Responsible for the Multi-Agency Children’s Hub (MACH) and the Assessment Teams.  (The MACH was the ‘front door’ of the Service where referrals were received.  When a referral met the threshold for social care intervention, it was allocated to the Assessment Teams for an initial single assessment).

·        Head of Safeguarding and Care Planning – Responsible for Safeguarding and Care Planning Teams and Frontline Teams (working to prevent care proceedings where appropriate and on Court safeguarding work).

·        Head of Looked After Children and Corporate Parenting – Responsible for Looked After Children Teams and Pathways (Care Leavers’) service.

·        Head of Futures for Families – Responsible for Futures for Families (No Wrong Door model) (hub provided respite and edge of care work); Residential Children’s Homes and the Fostering Service.

·        Head of Children with Disabilities – Responsible for Children with Disabilities Service and oversight of Practice Leads (including the Lead for the Independent Reviewing Officers) who were exploring how to further improve practice.

·        Principal Social Worker – Responsible for Centre for Practice Excellence (including Audit to Excellence, Training, Social Work Academy).

·        Head of Strategic Services – Responsible for Oversight of Performance and Quality; Inspection Preparation; Participation; Safeguarding Partnership (Middlesbrough and Redcar & Cleveland).


The Panel heard that Children’s Services’ Strategic Priorities 2022-24 aimed to show ‘Middlesbrough Children that they Matter’ by working to make the town safe and welcoming and to improve outcomes for all children and young people, by:-


·        Expanding the current youth provision model in areas suffering high levels of deprivation.

·        Evidencing that Middlesbrough Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/3


Setting the Scrutiny Panel's Work Programme - 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 521 KB

The Panel is asked to consider which topics it wishes to include on its proposed Work Programme for 2022/23 for approval by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.


The Democratic Services Officer submitted a report inviting Members to consider and agree its Work Programme for the 2022/23 Municipal Year.


A list of topical issues, anticipated to be of interest to the Panel, and the suggestions received in respect of the Scrutiny Panel's remit were contained in the report.


Members were advised that the topical issues and suggestions outlined in the report were merely proposals and the content of the work programme was entirely a decision for the Panel to make.

The Panel was encouraged to select two topics where scrutiny could make an impact, add value or contribute to policy development.


The Panel was reminded that it could also identify shorter 'one-off' topics and receive any relevant updates throughout the year as it considered necessary.


A recap of the work undertaken by the Panel throughout 2021/22 was contained at Paragraph 5 of the report.


Paragraph 12 of the report set out the key considerations when agreeing to include a specific topic on the work programme.  The Panel’s chosen topics for inclusion in its Work Programme would be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for approval.


The Panel held a discussion in relation to the suggested topics within the report and selected the following for the inclusion in its Work Programme:-


Review topics:-


1.      Supporting young people in their transition to adulthood – effectiveness of support services.

2.      Policy, Process and Procedures of Child Protection Plan/Child in Need/Early Intervention Support to Middlesbrough’s “birth” families.

3.      Strategic Plan Work plan 2022-24 – To create and deliver a strategy to increase digital inclusion for children, young people and adults across Middlesbrough.




1.      OFSTED inspections

2.      South Tees Safeguarding Children’s Partnership

3.      Performance information

4.      Previous Review - Sufficiency and Permanency (Perceptions of Children in Care)

5.      Previous Review - Locality Working from a Children’s Services Perspective


AGREED that the topics, as listed above, be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for approval and inclusion in the Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel’s work programme for 2022/2023.


Update - Children's Services Improvement Journey pdf icon PDF 675 KB

The Executive Director of Children’s Services will provide the Panel with an update in relation to the most recent Ofsted Monitoring Visit (March 2022).


The Executive Director of Children’s Services provided the Panel with an update in relation to the most recent Ofsted Monitoring Visit which took place on 29 and 30 March 2022.


The visit was the third monitoring visit (plus a focused visit) since the last full inspection and was the first to take place ‘face to face’ following the lifting of Covid restrictions.


The areas covered were:-


·        Matching, placement and decision-making for children in care.

·        Planning and achieving permanence for children.


Inspectors found that Children’s Services ‘knew themselves’ and this was evidenced by its detailed improvement plan and accurate self-assessment (SEF).  This had been achieved through:-


·        Quality Assurance processes.

·        Robust reviewing processes and panels.

·        Audits with a crucial learning loop.

·        The Centre for Practice Excellence is a central focus for collating learning and improvement.


In terms of permanence – or ‘forever homes for children’, inspectors found:-


·        A systemic framework for permanency planning – less reactive and more forward-looking.

·        Stronger practice with children who had more recently come into care planning with more thought about early permanence planning.

·        Permanency plans now included parallel planning to avoid drift and delay for children.

·        Social Workers knew children needed permanence and what was required to achieve it.

·        Regular and high quality supervision actively contributing to early permanence planning.

·        Monthly Permanence Monitoring Group (PMG) meetings track and quality assure both plans and progression towards permanence.


The positives that came from the Monitoring Visit were summarised as follows:-


·        Children in care were visited regularly.

·        Most Social Workers knew their children well and had built trusting relationships with them.

·        Good direct work which was age appropriate.

·        Children’s voices were informing their planning.

·        Family time ensured:-

-        Children benefitted from safely assessed family time.

-        Family time with wider family members was well considered.

-        Sibling ‘Together or Apart’ assessments were completed quickly and relationships were maintained if they could not live together.

·      Children were brought into care in a more timely way through better Court applications.

·      Good feedback from the local judiciary and CAFCASS.

·      Child Permanence reports were sensitively written.

·      Social Workers understood the need for children to have life story work in order to understand their parentage and identity as they grew up.

·      Children’s records were written directly to the child by Social Workers who knew them.

·      Children were able to see the thought that went into planning for their forever homes.

·      Planning – evidence showed:-

-        Care planning meetings, supervision sessions, reviews and legal gateway were all well recorded forums for reflective and creative thinking.  They provided clear oversight of the plans and actions for the best interests of children, therefore, children experienced less delay.

-        Independent Reviewing Officers had improved oversight of children’s plans and there was evidence of mid-point reviews being carried out to consider whether plans were progressing.


Whilst there were many positives identified during the monitoring visit, some areas requiring further consideration were identified as follows:-


·        There was still some impact on children from a legacy of absent or poor planning.

·        Some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/5


Overview and Scrutiny Board Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update on the business conducted at the Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting held on 11 May 2022.


The Chair provided the Panel with a verbal update in relation to the business conducted by the Overview and Scrutiny Board on 11 May 2022, namely:-


·        Executive forward work programme.

·        Executive Member Update – Councillor Hill  - Executive Member for Young Adults & Political Engagement and Councillor Grange, Executive Member for Neighbourhood Safety.

·        Chief Executive Update.

·        School Exclusions – Feedback from school visits

·        Final report of the Children & Young People’s Social Care & Services Scrutiny Panel – Sufficiency and Permanency

·        Final report of the Children & Young People’s Social Care & Services Scrutiny Panel – Locality Working from a Children’s Services perspective

·        Next OSB meeting – Wednesday, 22 June 2022 at 10.00am




Proposed Schedule of Meeting Dates 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 192 KB

The Panel is asked to agree the proposed schedule of meeting dates for 2022/23.


A proposed schedule of meeting dates for Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel for the 2022/23 Municipal Year was submitted for the Panel’s consideration.


It was proposed that meetings would take place on Tuesdays at 10.00am, however, a Panel Member advised that this would prevent his attendance for the majority of meetings due to work commitments.


It was, therefore, agreed that the Democratic Services Officer would attempt to identify alternative dates and to circulate the new dates to the Panel.


AGREED that the schedule of meeting dates be revised and circulated to all Panel Members in due course.