Agenda and minutes

Children's Social Care and Health Cabinet Committee
Tuesday, 6th September, 2016 10.00 am

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

Contact: Theresa Grayell  03000 416172

Media

Items
No. Item

156.

Membership

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that the Cabinet Committee currently had a vacancy, following the recent death of Robert Brookbank.

 

 

 

157.

Tribute to Robert Brookbank

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee recorded its thanks for Mr Brookbank’s work and great sorrow at his recent death.  He had been a dedicated advocate of children and young people’s welfare, in particular the provision of mental health support services for them, and he would be very much missed.

158.

Apologies and Substitutes

To receive apologies for absence and notification of any substitutes present

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Mr M J Vye, and Mr R Bird was present as a substitute for him.

159.

Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

To receive any declarations of interest made by Members in relation to any matter on the agenda.  Members are reminded to specify the agenda item number to which it refers and the nature of the interest being declared

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

160.

Minutes of the meeting held on 5 July 2016 pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To consider and approve the minutes as a correct record.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of this Committee held on 5 July 2016 are correctly recorded and they be signed by the Chairman.  There were no matters arising.

161.

Minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 26 May 2016 pdf icon PDF 168 KB

To note the minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel held on 26 May 2016 be noted.

162.

Verbal updates

To receive a verbal update from the Cabinet Members for Specialist Children’s Services and Adult Social Care and Public Health, the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing and the Director of Public Health.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

1.            Mr P J Oakford, Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services, gave a verbal update on the following issues:

 

Placement of children in care in Kent by other local authorities – Mr Oakford had written to the Children’s Commissioner to highlight once again the high number of vulnerable young people placed in Kent by other local authorities and the potential impact of this upon their welfare and safety.  The letter sought the Commissioner’s support in reviewing and addressing the number of placements made at a distance by other local authorities.

Children In Care Council ‘Take Over’ Challenge – for one day in November, young people from Our Children and Young People’s Council would take over the running of the County Council. This would include covering the issues which a Cabinet Member would deal with in a day, and questioning officers on issues relevant to children in care and care leavers.   

Virtual School Kent Awards Day, 10 September – this would recognise and celebrate the achievements of young people, and all Members would be invited to attend.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) – there was plenty to report but unfortunately it was largely disappointing news.  Although the rate of monthly arrivals was still much less than at last summer, there were currently 1,400 UASC in Kent and the number was still increasing.  Mr Oakford would write to the new Immigration Minister, Robert Goodwill, and was seeking a meeting at the earliest opportunity to tackle the issue robustly and to press again for a mandatory programme of dispersal of UASC around the country.  The Local Government Association, however, did not support such an arrangement, although Kent MPs had been supportive.

 

2.            Mr A Ireland, Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, then gave a verbal update on the following issues:

 

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) – Mr Ireland added that the limited dispersal arrangements currently in place meant that UASC would remain in Kent for longer. Although new arrivals were being dealt with as they arrived, a core of longstanding cases was not being addressed, and the longer a young person stayed in the county, the more settled they became - for example, in education - and the harder they would be to move on.  Once they reached 18, Kent would be obliged to take on responsibility for them as care leavers, and the costs of this were not fully covered by Home Office funding. To be effective, a dispersal scheme would need to be activated quickly; the longer it took to establish a mandatory scheme, the more the delay would compound the UASC problem for Kent.  The reasons for UASC coming to the UK could be summarised in the following categories:

 

·         Those who had family in the UK, who would not be part of a dispersal scheme as they would be taken directly to the area where their family lived;

·         Those who had come on humanitarian grounds, who would need to be placed;

·         Those who had come from refugee camps in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 162.

163.

Recruitment and Retention of Children's Social Workers pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on activity in relation to recruitment and retention of children’s social workers.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms K Ray, Business Partner, Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, and Ms K Watson, Business Partner, Education and Young People’s Services, were in attendance for this item.

 

1.            Ms Ray and Ms Watson introduced the report and responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:

 

a)    to address the issue of social workers leaving Kent to work elsewhere, or taking up a job elsewhere instead of in Kent, work was ongoing to compare Kent’s top social work salary to that of neighbouring authorities.  This had found that only Essex County Council had a higher top salary than Kent.  A report on this issue would shortly be considered by the departmental management team.  Mr Segurola added that most social workers leaving the County Council did so to join agencies.  The County Council could simply not match agencies’ incentives but hoped to attract and keep its social work staff by enhancing other parts of the employment package;

 

b)    in response to a question about the relatively low proportion of applicants selected for interview, Ms Ray explained that some applicants simply did not have the required qualifications and were not suitable to progress to the interview stage. To compare the number interviewed with the number appointed would give a better indication of the quality of the candidates coming forward;

 

c)    the report listed the number of job offers made, but it would be useful to know also how many vacancies there were to be filled.  Ms Ray undertook to include this information in the next report to the Committee;

 

d)    a question was raised about the extent of Members’ involvement in the decision to discontinue exit interviews. Ms Ray undertook to look into how and where the decision had been taken but added that interviews were now undertaken with newly-arrived social workers, to identify why they had chosen to work for the County Council. She added that managers were encouraged to talk to staff handing in their notice but that it was left up to the individuals concerned to take up this opportunity;

 

2.            The Chairman proposed, and Mrs A D Allen seconded, that the Committee recommend the resumption of exit interviews, so the service and Members had a source of information about why social workers left the County Council.

Carried without a vote.

 

e)    it was important that, in undertaking interviews to seek honest feedback, at any stage of employment, these should not necessarily be conducted by the individual’s manager but should offer the employee the chance to nominate someone else to undertake the interview;

 

f)     the Memorandum of Co-operation was welcomed, but this would need to be monitored carefully.  Ms Ray explained that this was in its early days but would indeed be monitored.  Mr Segurola added that, under the Memorandum of Co-operation, any social worker leaving the County Council would not be employed by any other local authority in the south-east region;

 

g)    staff citing ‘lifestyle changes’ as their reason for leaving social work gave a variety of reasons,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 163.

164.

Report on the Regional Adoption Agency pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on progress on establishing a regional adoption agency.  The committee is asked to endorse in principal the proposal to enter into formal dialogue with Medway Council and the London Borough of Bexley with a view to establishing a regional adoption agency.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.            Mr Segurola and Ms Khosla introduced the report and set out the rationale for seeking to establish a regional adoption agency with neighbouring authorities, including the national drive to increase adoption rates and the limited ability of small authorities to achieve this increase individually. A larger organisation would be able to achieve better economies of scale in terms of contract commissioning. Kent County Council already had informal working relationships with Medway and Bexley Councils and a good relationship with Coram. Mr Segurola and Ms Khosla responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    the London Borough of Bromley had previously been amongst those being considered for the consortium but had chosen not to proceed when their adoption service had been placed in special measures. It was possible, however, that they may join in at some time in the future;

 

b)    although the value of adoption panels was being considered by central government, there was currently no government advice to discontinue them, but in the future these may no longer be required;

 

c)    although a statistical comparison between the three partner authorities was included in the report, there were some historic anomalies between the three in the way in which various data had been recorded;

 

d)    among the Judiciary, nationally, there was a movement towards seeking extended-family placements wherever possible, by using special guardianship orders. However, such placements were not always successful.  Mr Segurola said he would be addressing this problem shortly in meetings with representatives of the Judiciary. Mr Ireland added that many such cases dated back to 2014 when Kent had had a large backlog;

 

e)    concern was expressed that the three authorities in the partnership were of different types - a county, a unitary and a London borough – and this may cause problems in the way in which they were able to work together.  In addition, the County Council risked being burdened with the cost and responsibility of taking on the administrative arrangements for the regional adoption agency; and

 

f)     in response to a question about whether or not consideration had been given to forming a stand-alone trading company which would commission services, Mr Ireland explained that previous very recent tendering exercises to run a company had been unsuccessful, and that was why the current proposal had been put together.

 

2.               RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted and the proposal to enter into formal dialogue with Medway Council and the London Borough of Bexley, with a view to establishing a Regional Adoption Agency, be endorsed in principle.

 

165.

Placement Stability Report pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on proposed actions to improve placement stability.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

1.            Ms Khosla introduced the item and responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    as children on part-time school timetables were known to be at particular risk of placement breakdown, it would be helpful to know how many children were in this position across the county;

 

b)    previous discussions at the Corporate Parenting Panel had identified the pressure that part-time schooling placed on foster carers and their families, and highlighted the need for the whole foster family to be supported in dealing with the pressure and in preventing placement breakdown; and

 

c)    the percentage of children who had moved in and out of care as a result of court decisions (for example, those who had been returned home to their birth family only to re-enter care when that placement broke down), was small, but made an impact on the pattern of breakdown;

 

2.            RESOLVED that the actions taken to improve placement stability, and Members’ comments, set out above, be noted.

166.

Specialist Children's Services Performance Dashboard pdf icon PDF 60 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing, outlining current performance against targets, as at June 2016.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mrs M Robinson, Management Information Unit Manager, was in attendance for this item.

 

RESOLVED that the information set out in the report be noted, with thanks.

167.

Public Health Performance - Children and Young People pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health and the Director of Public Health, outlining current performance against targets.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms K Sharp, Head of Public Health Commissioning, was in attendance for this item.

 

1.            Ms Sharp and Mr Scott-Clark introduced the report and responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    in clinical terms, smoking was classed separately from drug use, and the health effects of smoking upon unborn children was an issue for the NHS.  Although the County Council worked in partnership with  the NHS in tackling the public health message around smoking in pregnancy, the latter had no commissioning responsibility for maternity services;

 

b)    it was the role of Health Visitors to contact families and offer a visit.  Some families declined this offer, for example, if they were more experienced parents and did not feel they needed Health Visitor support.  A Health Visitor would offer support to all families twice, to allow parents a chance to change their mind. Health Visitors would note which families did not take up the offer of a visit and would seek feedback about why a visit had been declined, and would share this information with the County Council as part of a safeguarding procedure aimed at identifying those who were perhaps actively avoiding contact with Health Visitors; and

 

c)    children’s centres were currently displaying charts illustrating the  sugar content of various popular drinks, as part of a pilot scheme to raise awareness among parents.  Kent had been chosen by Public Health England as one of only five local authorities in the UK to pilot this scheme as part of the ‘Change4Life’ campaign, to test which messages worked best in addressing childhood obesity. Schools, GPs’ surgeries and other County Council premises had also been approached to carry similar displays. As part of the childhood obesity plan, the county and district councils had adopted the Government’s catering standards, which meant that any service provided by a children’s centre would adhere to these standards.  

 

2.            The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health Mr Gibbens, added that the number of women smoking during pregnancy still needed to be addressed, and this was being tackled by the BabyClear project. The number of mothers in Kent smoking at the time of delivery was also above the national average, and was rising. This could be tackled by promoting smoke-free school gates.

 

3.            RESOLVED that the current performance of public health-commissioned services be noted. 

168.

Annual Equality and Diversity Report - Specialist Children's Services pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on equality and diversity work and progress on the County Council’s equality objectives for 2015/16.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr M Haji-Kella, Practice Development Officer, and Ms A Agyepong, Corporate Lead – Equalities and Diversity, were in attendance for this item.

 

1.            Mr Haji-Kella introduce the report and explained that it was broader than the one submitted last year, and that future work was needed to identify gaps in information and to record complaints and identify the reasons for them.  Mr Haji-Kella and Ms Agyepong responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    in response to a question about the use of, and cost of, interpreters, for example, when interviewing unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC), Ms Agyepong explained that the costs of providing an interpreter, from a pool of regular providers, were paid by the County Council.  She undertook to look into the specific arrangements made in respect of UASC interviews and advise the speaker of these outside the meeting.  She added that pupils recorded with the heading ‘EAL’ (English as an additional language) did not necessarily speak no English and require an interpreter service; for many it simply denoted that English was not their first language and that they were bi-lingual; and

 

b)    in response to a question about the use of apps such as MOMO (Mind of My Own), used to engage young people in care, Mr Haji-Kella explained that this had been in use in Kent as part of a pilot for the last 6 months, and a further app, MOTO (Mind Of Their Own) was due to be launched soon, aimed at younger and disabled children.

 

2.            RESOLVED that:-

 

a)    current performance and proposed priorities be noted;

 

b)    equality governance continue to be observed in relation to decision making;

 

c)    the proposed changes to equality objectives be agreed, and revised objectives be received in 2017; and

 

d)    the report continue to be presented annually in order to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and to ensure progress against the Council’s objectives.

 

169.

Complaints and Representations 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 539 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on the operation of the Children Act 1989 Complaints and Representations Procedure in 2015/16.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr A Mort, Customer Care and Operations Manager, was in attendance for this item.

 

1.            Mr Mort introduced the report and responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    in response to a question about an increase in complaints received by advocacy organisations such as the Young Lives Foundation, and how well equipped these organisations were to deal with complaints, Mr Mort explained that advocacy organisations were encouraged to try to resolve any issues with the operational staff before accessing the statutory complaints process. This system was known to work well and could lead to quicker resolutions; and

 

b)    the adults’ and children’s customer care and operations teams were now in one team, to increase consistency of practice in dealing with complaints, albeit  working to different statutory processes.  Current work was aimed at resolving complaints faster at stage 2 and increasing complainants’ awareness of stage 3 of the statutory complaints process. 

 

2.            Members placed on record their thanks to the staff about whom complimentary feedback had been received from service users, particularly in the field of respite and transition services, and commented that their high standards of customer care should be celebrated and supported.

 

3.            RESOLVED that the information set out in the report, and given in response to comments and questions, be noted, with thanks.

 

170.

Work Programme 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services on the Committee’s work programme.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Committee’s work programme for 2016/17 be agreed.

171.

Children and Young People's Mental Health Service pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health and Wellbeing on progress of the procurement and mobilisation of the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Service (CAMHS).

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms K Sharp, Head of Public Health Commissioning, and Ms C Maynard, Care Procurement Category Manager, were in attendance for this item.

 

  1. Ms Maynard introduced the report and explained that much work was going on to establish an integrated children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing service.  She set out the governance arrangements between the seven CCGs and the County Council and how the service would be delivered between them. Ms Maynard and Ms Sharp responded to comments and questions from Members, as follows:-

 

a)    Members commended the work which had been done to draw together the threads of this complex piece of work and hoped that the long and complex journey to improve the service would finally come to fruition in a good-quality service. Ms Maynard assured Members that key performance indicators would be included in the final contract that the provider would sign.  Mr Ireland added that he had much confidence in the new service and commented that the co-operation between the County Council and the NHS provided a good template for future joint working;

 

b)    Ms Sharp confirmed that the County Council was to contribute the smallest share of the cost of providing the service, £1million - for the children in care, early help and public health elements of the service - compared to the NHS contribution of £15million; and

 

c)    monitoring of the new service would be an important role for the County Council, and it was important to decide how this would be managed between the Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Scrutiny Committee and this Cabinet Committee, without duplication, and to prevent ‘drift’.  Ms Sharp undertook to discuss the issue with Democratic Services colleagues.

 

2.         RESOLVED that the information set out in the report, and given in response to comments and questions, be noted