Agenda and minutes

Corporate Parenting Panel - Friday, 20th January, 2017 10.00 am

Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Theresa Grayell  03000 416172

No. Item


Apologies and substitutes


Apologies for absence had been received from Sue Dunn and Sophia Dunstan.


Marion Emptage was present as a substitute for Sue Dunn and Reece Graves as a substitute for Sophia Dunstan.



Minutes of the meeting of this Panel held on 9 November 2016 pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Panel’s meeting held on 9 November 2016 are correctly recorded and they be signed by the Chairman. There were no matters arising.


Meeting dates 2017/2018

To note that the following dates have been reserved for meetings of the Panel in 2017/2018.  All meetings will take place at County Hall, Maidstone.


Friday 20 January 2017 – 10.00 am

Monday 20 March 2017 – 1.00 pm

Friday 19 May 2017 – 10.00 am

Friday 21 July 2017 – 10.00 am

Monday 18 September 2017 – 1.00 pm

Thursday 9 November 2017 – 10.00 am


Monday 29 January 2018 – 1.00 pm

Thursday 22 March 2018 – 10.00 am



1.            The Democratic Services Officer reported that, since publishing the list of meeting dates shown on the agenda, it had become necessary to move the May 2017 meeting to 1 June 2017.


2.            RESOLVED that, taking account of the above, the dates reserved for meetings of the Panel in 2017 and 2018 be noted, as follows:


Friday 20 January 2017 – 10.00 am

Monday 20 March 2017 – 1.00 pm

Thursday 1 June 2017 – 10.00 am

Friday 21 July 2017 – 10.00 am

Monday 18 September 2017 – 1.00 pm

Thursday 9 November 2017 – 10.00 am

Monday 29 January 2018 – 1.00 pm

Thursday 22 March 2018 – 10.00 am


All meetings will take place at County Hall, Maidstone.




Verbal Update from Our Children and Young People's Council (OCYPC) pdf icon PDF 68 KB


1.            Mr Graves gave a verbal update on recent work undertaken by the participation team on behalf of the Children in Care Councils (CICCs), the Super Council and Young Adult Council (YAC). The text of the update is appended to these minutes.


2.            In response to questions from the Panel by Mr Graves, Ms O’Grady and Mr Segurola, and in subsequent discussion, the following points were raised:-


a)    challenge cards, seeking a free young person’s railcard for members of the YAC, and asking about the possibility of corporate parents acting as guarantors for young people’s rent, were passed  around the table for Panel members to see.  These and a previous challenge, asking that young people in care be given a free provisional driving licence at 17, were welcomed by the Panel as constructive suggestions which would encourage independence, and corporate parents’ support of them would echo the support and help that a young person’s own parents might normally offer them as they approached adulthood and needed to become independent.  However, it was important to look carefully into the legalities of the County Council as corporate parent taking on the role of guarantor;


b)    more challenge cards were to follow and would be introduced to the Panel gradually.  Mr Segurola asked how the Panel wished  challenge cards to be handled, as the former Kent Corporate Parenting Group had previously received them, and there was general agreement to the Corporate Parenting Panel being the recipient of them and acting as a conduit by which they could be passed on to the appropriate Portfolio holder to deal with, eg the railcard request would be passed to the Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport;


c)    it was suggested that, in addition to supporting the previous challenge for a free provisional driving licence, the Panel write to driving schools to seek discounted fees on driving lessons, seek funds from the County Council with which the costs of driving lessons could be subsidised and/or approach reputable second hand car dealerships to help young people to afford a first car. This was another way in which corporate parents could offer the type of support that any other parent might offer;


d)    another view was expressed that young people be made fully aware of the costs of maintaining, insuring and running a car and a suggestion made that young people be encouraged instead to start with a moped.  This would have the added benefit of allowing them to learn about and become aware of road conditions and safety before moving up to owning a first car;  


e)    County Council Members had previously used part of their Members grant to help fund participation events, and attended and enjoyed various events in their role as corporate parents.  It was hoped that this would continue and that new Members joining the Council in the May 2017 elections would take up this option;


f)       the Panel was advised that the VSK apprentices continued to be involved, as the Recruit Crew, in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 190.


Verbal Update by Cabinet Member


1.            Mr P J Oakford then gave a verbal update on the following issues:-


Foster Carers Mr and Mrs Upton of Canterbury had each been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list. Over 32 years they had fostered 151 children and young people.

Takeover challenge day in December – young people had taken over Specialists Children’s Services for a day and had run meetings and questioned officers and the Cabinet Member.  The day had been challenging but successful and very useful for both sides.

Early help team scorecard shared with young people for their comments – challenging questions had also been asked about this.

 Visit to Montague House social work team – here he had met social workers, management and the administrative team and had been able to see at first hand the challenges faced at all these levels.

Children’s Commissioner – a recent meeting had successfully highlighted the issue of large numbers of children in care being placed in Kent by other local authorities. This issue had now been added to the Commissioner’s Business Plan.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) - The number of new arrivals had dropped dramatically, with only 20 arriving over the last 5 weeks, giving a current UASC population of 600. However, the pressure on services was now transferring to the 18+ service as large numbers of UASC turned 18.  There were currently 700 young people in this category and this would rise to 1,000 by the end of May 2017.  The former reception centre at Swattenden had now closed and only Millbank was still in use, currently housing 10 young people. Under the national dispersal programme, all UASC arriving since July 2016 had been successfully accommodated by other local authorities around the UK.


2.            In response to comments and questions from the Panel, Mr Oakford explained the following:-


a)    training on child sexual exploitation given by Kent Police had been very well received and a film used as part of the training was praised by those who had seen it as being frank and hard-hitting.  However, suggestions that this film be shared with a wider audience, including Kent MPs, foster carers and County Council Members, had been met with the view from the Police that its content was considered too disturbing. One particularly shocking aspect of the film was gangs’ apparent awareness of vulnerable children in care; the first question they would ask of a child would be their care status;


b)    the issue of other local authorities, particularly London boroughs, placing large numbers of children in care in Kent had long been a concern, and an added concern now was from media coverage that some of these young people may be bringing drug habits and other problems into Kent. Placing authorities were known not to be diligent in undertaking the necessary risk assessments ahead of placing a child out of their area, and concern expressed about what corporate parents in the receiving area could do, realistically, to address the issue.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 191.


Review of operation of the new Corporate Parenting Panel model pdf icon PDF 97 KB


1.            Mr Segurola introduced the report and sought views on how well the revised Panel was working, following its merger in summer 2016 with the Kent Corporate Parenting Group. In discussion, the following comments were made:-


a)    it had been a concern that the new, larger Panel might prove too large, and perhaps be too daunting for young people to attend, but this concern had not been borne out;


b)    the broader Panel membership had been able to have useful, in-depth conversations about issues of concern, for example the preceding discussion arising from the Cabinet Member’s verbal update. This allowed Panel members to share and understand issues;


c)    the inclusion of corporate parenting training in the induction pack for newly-elected County Council members had long been an aim, and training would be included for new entrants following the May 2017 elections;


d)    the Panel’s work programme was perhaps too focussed on social care issues. Suggestions for areas for inclusion were health and the voluntary sector; and


e)    it was suggested that the Panel’s membership should include representatives of the Police and professionals working with disabled children and young people.


2.            RESOLVED that:-


a)    the report be noted;

b)    the Police and disabled children’s service in the Social Care, Health and Wellbeing Directorate be approached to identify representatives to join the Panel;

c)    the work programme be shared with the whole Panel to seek items for inclusion; and

d)    the operation of the Panel be reviewed again in January 2018.



Review and Update of the Sufficiency, Placements and Commissioning Strategy - 2015 - 2018 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

Additional documents:


Ms M Hall, Commissioning Manager, was in attendance for this item.


1.            Ms Hall introduced the report and highlighted key areas of work and progress since the Panel had last received an update, including much work on an intense review of the Strategy since December 2016. The Panel had been receiving updates twice-yearly on progress against achieving the eight measures in the Strategy, and this would continue. There were currently two areas in which improvement was sought – measures 3 (placements beyond 20 miles from a child’s family home) and 6 (children having three or more placements). In response to comments and questions from the Panel, Ms Hall, Mr Segurola and Ms Khosla explained the following:-


a)    in response to a concern that the present measures were not sufficiently robust or precise, worded as ‘we expect to see..’ rather than ‘we will…’, Ms Hall explained that work was in hand to revisit and tighten these in the light of changing provision, eg the number of independent accommodation providers had increased greatly in the last 2 or three 3 years. Mr Segurola added that it would also be necessary to revisit the breadth and variety of provision, linking to the 0 – 21 and 0 – 25 strategies; 


b)    in terms of placement stability, work was ongoing with VSK and the new Head of the Fostering service, Caroline Smith, under the ‘Sense of Belonging’ programme, to increase stability. Additionally, in the ‘Mocking Bird’ model, one respite household would be established for every three care households;


c)    all children’s commissioning activity was now undertaken by one combined commissioning team under a new Interim Head of Children’s Commissioning, Karen Sharp, which had made it more possible to achieve an overview of activity;  


d)    Ms Khosla added that the County Council needed to use the Strategy to promote its activity in housing care leavers, particularly UASC, and could liaise particularly with district councils’ housing departments. To get a clear and full picture of need and provision, which was a complex service area, it would be necessary to take account of patterns of adoption and special guardianship orders and their effect in freeing up foster care placements. In that way, the County Council could ‘future proof’ its service;


e)    safety pods were welcomed as a new initiative which would avoid the need to use bed and breakfast accommodation to house young people. Any shared accommodation would be used only for a maximum of 28 days while a young person’s needs were being assessed;


f)     in response to a question about the provision of training accommodation for young people, in which they could learn cooking and budgeting skills, Ms Khosla commented that this would be a good project to take on;


g)    a request was made that future performance reports give actual figures, eg of the numbers of young people using a service, rather than the percentages shown currently; and


h)   in response to a concern about the rate of placement breakdown, and how breakdown could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 193.


Head Teacher of Virtual School Kent (VSK) Annual Report 2015 - 16 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Additional documents:


1.            Mr Doran introduced the report and pointed out that the 2015/2016 academic year had been a successful one for VSK.  He highlighted the difficulty of comparing that year with previous as it had been the first year of Ofsted’s new performance measures and monitoring system. He updated the Panel on some latest figures, as follows:


a)    the number of children who were NEET had dropped from 53% in September 2015 to 25.7% in September 2016. The ‘snapshot’ figure for January 2017 was 19.8%;


b)    attendance and absence showed a variable picture across Kent.  Attendance falling short of 90% was classified as ‘persistent absence’, but this threshold had been increased from 85%;


c)    VSK was collaborating with the Fostering service on the Sense of Belonging programme and had added to its monthly performance dashboard the number of children experiencing two or more changes of placement.  The Head of Fostering attended VSK team meetings and there was good two-way information sharing;


d)    the VSK apprentices had continued their excellent work on increasing participation and engagement.  One apprentice had taken a permanent post in the VSK team. Memberships of the various committees had increased, as follows:- Our Children and Young People’s Council: 42, Young Adult Council: 19, Junior Council: 15 – making an overall total of 76, which was very pleasing. There had been 19 activity days in the 2015/16 academic year, attended by a total of 450 children and young people.  The number of activity days for young people aged over 16 had increased; and   


e)    Kent continued its record of innovative, collaborative support of individual pupils using Pupil Premium Plus (PP+).


2.            Mr Doran responded to comments and questions from the Panel, as follows:-


a)    Mr Doran received congratulations for the VSK team’s work and many years of dedication to supporting the educational success of children and young people in care. It was suggested that this work should be shared with a wider audience by the VSK annual report being reported to the County Council’s Education and Young People’s Services Cabinet Committee;


b)    spending of PP+ was carefully monitored and Mr Doran offered to supply more detailed information outside the meeting.  There had been much good practice and improvement since the inception of PP+ and it was hoped that more improvement would be achieved in the future.  Examples were given of young people who had benefitted personally from PP+ investment;


c)    Mr Doran explained that the figures quoted in the VSK dashboard and the scorecard presented to the Children’s Social Care and Health Cabinet Committee at its December meeting, in terms of the number of care leavers who were NEET, were not based on the same information or the same cohorts of young people.  Figures used in the VSK report were concerned with 16–18 year olds only, whereas the scorecard was concerned with 18–21 year olds;


d)    it was requested that induction training for newly-elected Members in May 2017 include details of the programme of participation events, so that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 194.