Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People's Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel - Tuesday 27th September, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Mandela Room

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 held on 26 July 2022 pdf icon PDF 247 KB


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


Transition to Adulthood - Further Information pdf icon PDF 738 KB

The Panel will be provided with further information in relation to its current topic ‘Transition to Adulthood’ in relation to the Pathways (Leaving Care) Team.


P Jemson, Head of Looked After Children and Corporate Parenting, and R Farnham, Director of Children’s Care, were in attendance at the meeting to provide the Panel with further information in relation to its current scrutiny topic, specifically in relation to the support provided to young people by the Pathways (Leaving Care) Service.


The Panel was informed that the Pathways (Leaving Care) Service supported care leavers, including young people with disabilities, to live successful, independent lives.  A care leaver was defined as a young person who had been in the care of the local authority for a period of 13 weeks or more, spanning their sixteenth birthday.


In Middlesbrough, the Pathways Service consisted of two teams – each with a Team Managers and Assistant Team Manager – six Social Workers assigned to young people aged 15 years and three months, and nine Personal Advisors working with young people aged 16-25.


In accordance with Section 3 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017, local authorities were required to provide Personal Advisors to care leavers up to the age of 25.  Their role was to help young people to positively transition to adulthood by:-


·        Providing advice (including practical advice) and support to the young person.

·        Participating in reviews of the young person’s case.

·        Liaising with the responsible authority in the implementation of the pathway plan.

·        Co-ordinating the provision of services.

·        Keeping informed about the young person’s progress and well-being.

·        Maintaining full, accurate, up to date records of contacts with the young person and services provided.

·        Providing information about financial capability and how to manage daily finances.

·        Providing housing options available to the care leaver.

·        Supporting the young person to find further education, employment or training.

·        Keeping in touch with the young person.


In accordance with the national minimum standard, Personal Advisors kept in touch with the young person (from age 18 onwards) every eight weeks.  If a young person had more complex needs or needed additional support, contact was more frequent and could be daily in some cases.


Every eligible care leaver had the right to a Needs Assessment.  This assessment was completed by a Social Worker when the young person was 16 years old and included consideration of their independent living skills and ability to manage their own finances.  The aim of the assessment was to ensure they left care at a time that was right for them.  Relevant children had a Pathway Plan, setting out the support that would be provided to them once they had left care and the Plan must be based on the completed Needs Assessment.  The plan was reviewed every six months.


Pathway Plans included the following:-


·        The nature and level of contact and personal support to be provided.

·        The young person’s health needs and how they should be met.

·        Arrangements to support the young person in further education or employment.  (Support to engage and/or maintain engagement).

·        Arrangements to support the young person in sustaining and developing family relationships.  (Helping young people to maintain focus  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/15


Update - Ofsted Monitoring Visit pdf icon PDF 166 KB

The Executive Director of Children’s Services will be in attendance to provide the Panel with an update in relation to the Ofsted monitoring visit carried out 13-14 July 2022.

Additional documents:


The Executive Director of Children’s Services was in attendance to provide the Panel with an update in relation to the most recent Ofsted monitoring visit carried out on 13 and 14 July 2022.


A copy of Ofsted’s findings, in its letter published 17 August 2022, was attached to the agenda for Members’ information.


The visit was the fourth Monitoring Visit (plus a focused assurance visit in July 2021) to Middlesbrough’s Children’s Services, with two Inspectors reviewing progress made since the last full inspection in relation to:-


·        The ‘front door’ of the service where contacts and referrals are received.

·        Child Protection enquiries.

·        Early Help assessments.

·        Step-up and Step-down to Early Help.


A number of positive headline findings were identified as follows:-


·        Front door services had continued to develop and improve (overseen by the multi-agency Improvement Board that met every six weeks).

·        Robust and comprehensive quality assurance programme ensuring leaders had an accurate understanding of practice and its impact on children and families, with expansion of the offer of Early Help support to vulnerable children.

·        Stronger and wider partnerships within the MACH (Multi-Agency Children’s Hub).  This had led to:-

-        Improved quality of information.

-        Richness of information-sharing.

-        Better informed decision making.


The areas identified as needing more focus included:-


·        Workforce instability and increased demand in the assessment service which had slowed down throughput. 

·        Additional pressure on some Social Workers’ caseloads and quality of practice.

·        Unfinished assessments and incomplete records had led to delays and risks being fully assessed for some children.


The Executive Director advised that in terms of workforce stability, it remained a challenge to recruit to permanent posts and to recruit agency staff at the present moment, however, best efforts to do so were continuing.  This situation was not unique to Middlesbrough.


The findings and evaluation of progress in relation to Early Help were as follows:-

Positives included:-


·        Audits demonstrated the majority of practice was rated as good.

·        Interventions were preventing risks escalating and reducing the need for statutory intervention and families’ circumstances were improving.

·        Managers had robust oversight of work (through auditing and performance data).

·        Prompt ‘step-up’ and ‘step-down’ were aligned with children’s needs.

·        Additional teams and team managers had been created and recruitment was ongoing.

·        In the sample seen, assessments were thorough and completed with families.

·        ‘My Family Plans’ included family goals and were a shared plan for families to actively engage in.


Some of the areas needing focus within Early Help included:-


·        High caseloads impacted on practitioners’ capacity for intensive work. (Recruitment for additional staff had commenced).

·        For some children, actions in the My Family Plan did not address all the presenting risks.  (This issue was addressed whilst inspectors were on site to their satisfaction).


Inspection of the MACH identified the following positives:-


·        Audits demonstrated that the majority of practice was rated as good.

·        Increased partner presence and Social Worker management posts to ensure capacity for increased remit and responsibilities.

·        Work with partner agencies to improve the quality of contacts and referrals - well co-ordinated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/16


Overview and Scrutiny Board - Update

The Chair will provide a verbal update in relation to the business conducted at the Overview and Scuritny Board meeting held on 21 September 2022.


The Chair provided the Panel with a verbal update in relation to the business conducted by the Overview and Scrutiny Board at its meetings on 21 September 2022, namely:-


  • Mayor in attendance – to provide details of his work and portfolio.
  • Executive Forward Work Programme.
  • Corporate Performance Update – Quarter one 2022/23.
  • Revenue & Capital Budget - Projected Outturn at Quarter one 2022/23.
  • Scrutiny Chairs’ Updates.
  • Next OSB meeting: Tuesday, 25 October at 10am.



Date and Time of Next meeting - 24 October 2022, 10.30am


The next meeting of the Children and Young People’s Social Care and Services Scrutiny Panel was scheduled to take place on Monday, 24 October 2022 at 10.30am, Mandela Room, Town Hall.