Agenda and minutes

Children’s Services, Education & Skills Scrutiny Board
Tuesday 5th November 2019 6.00 pm

Items
No. Item

7.

Apologies

To receive any apologies.

Minutes:

Councillors S Ashraf MBE, J Butler, R Holt and Mrs J Hildreth (Diocesan Representative).

8.

Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicting Interests from Members

To receive declarations of interest from Members in accordance with the Code of Conduct (Members are directed to the guidance attached.)

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

9.

Questions and Deputations

To deal with any questions or deputations received.

Minutes:

No questions or deputations were submitted.

10.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To receive the minutes of the meeting held on 12th September 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 September 2019 were presented.

 

  RESOLVED

That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 September 2019 were approved.

 

11.

Update on the new Family Support Service pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To provide an update on the new Family Support Service following the first three months in operation.

Minutes:

The Head of Service for the Family Support Service and Child Protection presented the report, updating the Board on the progress and impact of the new Family Support Service, after it was launched in April. The following points were raised:

·  A Member site visit had been held on the Monday prior, where Members had liaised with the Head of Service, Social Workers and Family Support Workers. The Members followed the ‘journey of the child’ through Children’s Services, after referral to the MASH (Multi-Agency Screening Hub)  – a map illustrating this was also shared with the Members.

·  The new service provided a single front door for all statutory and non-statutory referrals via the MASH, rather than separate routes. All Domestic Abuse cases were now triaged through the MASH.

·  Social Workers and Family Support Workers now worked in collaboration, under a single Team Manager, to ensure the most appropriate response to all referrals.

·  The Family Support Service was aligned with the localities and partner agencies, with North, East and West teams established.

·  The Exploitation and Missing Team had been created, to support vulnerable children and young people at risk of exploitation. The Family Group Conferencing team had also been established, which supported families to find solutions to their own issues, within their own networks.

 

The Head of Service highlighted the following outcomes, following the launch of the Family Support Service in April:

·  There had been a considerable drop in the number of children on a Child Protection (CP) Plan.

·  There had been an increase in the intensive interventions and support afforded to families at a non-statutory level.

·  There had been a reduction in the number of children referred to Children’s Services and being subject to a Social Worker assessment – this was due to the wider range of options available through the Family Support Service, with collaborative work undertaken via the local communities networks.

 

Members raised the following queries, with responses provided by Officers:

 

·  Members queried the viewpoint of families and service users, following the introduction of the Family Support Service. The Assistant Team Managers emphasised that a key message from families was how they welcomed a reduction in the volume of officers they were referred to. This had meant families didn’t have to re-tell their story several times, reducing frustration during a challenging time.

·  Councillors welcomed this emphasis upon continuity – however, they queried whether there was potential for cases to be re-allocated, if the families or Officers felt it wasn’t working out. The Assistant Team Managers agreed such re-allocation of cases would be undertaken, where necessary – they stressed that any decision would be made in the best interest of the child.

·  Members queried the on-going support for Family Support Workers, including training. The Assistant Team Managers detailed how they held development sessions for their Family Support Workers, with a focus upon skill sharing with the Social Workers – this provided them the opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences. The Head of Service also detailed how all Officers would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Support to Looked After Children in key areas of Transitions pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To provide information regarding how Looked After Children are supported in key areas of transitions

Minutes:

The Head of Service for Looked After Children, Fostering and Adoption presented the report, updating the Board on how Looked After Children (LAC) were supported in key areas of transition. The points raised included the following:

·  The ‘Local offer’ was launched in Solihull in January 2019, which extended the Councils responsibility for care experienced young people from 21 up to the age of 25.

·  Some of the key developments following the introduction of the Local offer included Leisure passes, as well as Council Tax exemption from April 2020.

·  Accommodation options included two training flats for young people, which provided experience in living independently, whilst under the scrutiny of the Council. The Council also worked in close collaboration with Solihull Community Housing, to provide young people ‘Staying Close’ options, to help retain connections with local support networks.

·  For health and wellbeing, health assessments continued to be offered to all 16-18 year olds and the Looked after Children’s Nurse now offered an additional appointment just prior to the young persons 19th birthday. In regards to transitions into Adult Services, agreed pathways for LAC’s had been established.

·  For Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC), the Head of Service emphasised the Council had an extremely high level of expertise within the UASC team, which provided specialist support and worked in partnership with local agencies, including Border Force.

·  The Council worked in collaboration with Foster Carers, to support young people to develop a range of independence skills prior to turning 18.

 

The Solihull Employment and Skills Manager also informed Members of the support provided to LAC’s and care experienced young people. The points highlighted included the following:

·  Through the Youth Promise Plus programme, they supported young people from 16+. In regards  to their work with LAC’s, they collaborated closely with the Child Asylum and 16+ team,  with an outreach officer regularly meeting with officers at Chelmund Place.

·  The tracking team monitored the activity of all year 12 and 13 young people – here they would identify if a LAC or care experienced young person became NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training). In such cases, this would be raised with the outreach officer, who would work in partnership with Social Workers and Personal Advisors, to ensure personalised support for the young person. Members were also informed of the support for the 18+ group.

·  Personal allowances were provided to care experienced young people to support access to employment – such as for clothes and bus passes.

·  A SEN careers officer had been appointed, to offer specialist support to young people with a EHCP or requiring SEN support. Independent Travel Training was also provided, where required.

 

The Virtual Headteacher updated Members on the work undertaken via the Virtual School, as follows:

·  The Virtual School continued with support for LAC’s until end of year 13, which was 18 years old. For the most vulnerable, they continued providing help to support the young person’s transition into year 14.

·  For UASC, a teacher within the team provided specialist support, conducting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.