Agenda item

Verbal Update from Our Children and Young People's Council (OCYPC)


1.            Ms B Taylor gave a verbal update on recent work undertaken by the participation team on behalf of the OCYPC and the Children in Care Council (CICC).


Super Council, OCYPC and Young Adults Council (YAC):

·         Promotion work in East Kent was going on and membership and attendance at meetings were gradually increasing.  Participation in North and West Kent was still positive and there were plans to establish a South Kent group in October.


·         The Super Council had chosen a winning logo in bright primary colours, which was shown to the Panel.


·         At the most recent Super Council meeting, Members had been asked to write down eight things which they loved about their placement and the family they lived with.


·         At the most recent OCYPC meeting, young people expressed to Naintara Khosla their feelings about their placements. It was decided that there should be a new feedback forum, run by young people for young people, and work was starting on setting this up, possibly by including the use of MOMO. 


·         It had come to light that pledge cards and business cards were still not being distributed to young people. Mr Segurola undertook to ensure that this was addressed and that Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) specifically addressed this issue in children in care reviews.


·         A presentation by the Young Lives Foundation on advocacy had been very well received, and young people had said they felt confident that they were adequately informed about this service.


·         Work was progressing on a DVD to address the issues of stigma felt by young people coming into care and of the stereotypical view that many people had of children and young people in care.  Each participant was asked to describe themselves in three words, none of which related to their care status, and these descriptions would shape the film’s content.


·         Following the meeting, a discussion highlighted that many young people taking part did not feel confident in contributing to discussions.  Some of the most experienced previous participants at the OCYPC had since moved on to the YAC. To address the issue, the subject of the August meeting would be a discussion around the purpose of the OCYPC and the importance of voicing opinions. 


·         The most recent YAC meeting had been replaced with a summer barbecue, at which young people could network and meet new friends.




Challenge Cards:

·         One outstanding challenge was the issue of savings accounts for young people in care.  An update on this issue would be made at the Panel’s next meeting. 


Planned Summer Activities:

·         A list of activities in July and August was circulated to the Panel.  These activity days covered all areas of the county and a range of sports, creative and cultural activities, some negotiated at no cost or very low cost. An art competition with the theme ‘the Garden of England’ would also be run by Mr Segurola.


·         Sponsorship for the Thames Bridge Trek taking place on 10 September had been slow in coming forward. The team needed to raise a minimum of £1,000 to take part in the event, and Panel members were asked to support the event by using the justgiving page.


Participation and Engagement Team updates:

·         Sarah Skinner had left VSK to become the new Head of Adoption.


·         Reece Graves had started work in June and was working towards a level 2 qualification in business and admin.


·         Amelia Kury would be leaving the VSK team in September to take up a role outside the County Council in recruitment.


·         Three new apprentices would start work in September but it was not yet clear where in the county they would be based.


Other activity:

·         Work to support the summer activity programme.


·         Work on the art competition and stigma DVD, mentioned above.


·         Participation in interview panels.


·         Recruitment and training days for the Recruit Crew, which was growing well.


·         Work to support participation workshops.


·         Re-design of the newsletter with the County Council communications team.


·         Regional work with the office of the Children’s Commissioner to support local authorities’ Children In Care Councils.


·         Work to introduce the Kent Children’s University Passport to OCYPC members aged 7 - 11. This involved Saturday attendance at a range of local businesses to contribute to collecting stamps on a ‘passport’ of experience, which would lead to ‘graduation’ when the passport was full. Companies currently taking part included Halfords, Pets at Home, Asda and Sainsbury’s.


·         Work with Gemma O’Grady on a range of projects.


2.            Ms Taylor responded to comments and questions from the Panel, as follows:-


a)    in response to a question about the stigma DVD being included in training for foster carers, Ms Taylor explained that the project was currently at an early stage and its use for this purpose had not been considered, but she undertook to look into possibilities.  She reassured the Panel that young people taking part in the film would not be identifiable;


b)    adding more detail about the Kent Children’s University Passport project, Ms Taylor explained that businesses would teach young people useful skills.  For instance, Halfords would teach them how to change a bicycle tyre and Pets at Home would teach them how to care for a range of different pets.  Participation in the project would have the benefit of building confidence and gaining skills which could contribute to future career choices.  More businesses across the county were being encouraged to sign up to the project and contribute time and resources to hosting young people;


c)    Members sought reassurance on progress made in respect of the issue of savings accounts and pocket money.  Ms Khosla advised that a new policy had been issued to all Kent County Council foster carers in June which set out guidance on the proportion of the maintenance allowance that should be set aside for pocket money and savings.  Children needed to be made aware of the new policy and resourcing entitlements; and


d)    on 22 July, the Young Lives Foundation, Catch 22 and others were to attend a meeting of foster carers to talk about support issues around leaving care.


3.            The verbal updates were noted, with thanks.