Matt Dunkley, Corporate Director, CYPE and David Adams, Reconnect Programme Director were in attendance for this item.
1) Mrs Chandler introduced the report and thanked the team working on Reconnect. At the meeting of Cabinet held in March, there had been concern about the impact that the pandemic had on the lives of children and young people. Evidence had increased of the impact but the way in which children and young people had been affected varied widely. All children and young people in Kent had been affected in some way and that was why the Reconnect Programme was universal. Young people wanted the Programme to be about moving forward and positivity.
The key aims were reconnecting children and young people to:
· health and happiness
· Friends, family and community
· Sport, activity and the outdoors
· Economic wellbeing
· Learning missed
The Reconnect Programme was a cohesive and coordinated offer which offered flexibility and local delivery.
Kent-wide projects were to be offered through leisure centres which were to contribute to the aims around sport and activity. Work had been done with travel operator businesses to offer passes for free travel in the school summer holidays.
Local business, individuals, organisations and providers were able to contribute to the programme. Detailed information was on the website regarding how they could get involved.
2) Mrs Prendergast said teachers and school staff had worked hard to support and educate children under difficult circumstances. Schools and Early Years settings were working hard to address learning loss and it was hoped Reconnect would offer the additional support needed.
3) Mr Dunkley said that he welcomed the decision. He said that he felt the Reconnect Programme was ambitious and unique. It was a universal programme which tuned into the ambition and optimism of children and young people but was also targeted for children who had been particularly disadvantaged by the pandemic.
4) Mr Adams said that pace and agility would be key in delivering the Reconnect Programme and to respond to emerging and changing needs. It was to be a partnership effort and therefore, the support and commitment of colleagues across KCC, across partner agencies and in the community was needed to make the programme work. Thanks were given to all that had contributed thus far. Infrastructure had been put in place to deal with questions, queries and offers of support.
There was an agreement in principle with leisure centres across the county and the finalised arrangements were to be publicised. Arrangements were being put in place regarding the bus offer for children and potentially families during the summer. Work was being done to resource other services providing support such as counselling and mentoring services.
KCC had received more than 50 offers from organisations regarding promotion of the programme and over 500 people and organisations had subscribed to be kept informed about Reconnect.
Local Children’s Partnership Groups were key to the programme and £600,000 had been identified to support those groups on an interim basis, pending Cabinet’s decision around funding for the Programme. There were to be grant opportunities for organisations working with children and young people.
5) In response to questions, it was noted:
· Through the Holiday Activity and Food Programme, there were some providers who were to deliver outdoor activities over the summer. The Education People were to deliver outdoor activities from Bewl Water. It was recognised that there were challenges for children to access some sites and options were being considered.
· KCC was committed to securing best value and that additional resources be levered in where possible, for example, Arts Council funding. There was a dynamic funding model being used.
6) RESOLVED to agree the recommendations as set out in the report.