Reason for the decision
In March 2021, Cabinet approved the creation of the programme and agreed to delegate authority to the Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education, in consultation with the Leader and the Cabinet Members for Integrated Children’s Services and Education and Skills, to take necessary actions, including but not limited to, entering into relevant contracts or other legal agreements, as required to establish the programme and undertake relevant preparatory work within normal delegated spend thresholds.
The programme commenced in April 2021 and resource has been seconded to deliver the programme. In accordance with the decision of Cabinet in March 2021, a further key decision is needed to confirm the scope, objectives, outcomes and funding of the Reconnect Programme, together with confirmation of the governance and delegation arrangements to enable Reconnect to successfully achieve KCC’s aim of reconnecting children and young people in Kent to: learning missed; sport, activities and the outdoors; health and happiness; friends, family and communities; and economic wellbeing.
The Covid-19 pandemic has significantly affected children and young people, and it is recognised nationally and internationally that children and young people have sacrificed more than most over the course of the pandemic. The County Council determines it vital that the whole Kent community supports our children and young people to reconnect with the things they have missed over the past year.
The programme will run from April 2021 until the end of August 2022 and will be available to all children in Kent, from the age of 2 to 19 years old (or 24 years old if they have special educational needs and/or disabilities). The programme’s activities and support will meet different levels of need and will be in addition to, rather than instead of, existing services.
The programme will be delivered via a combination of existing networks and structures, including Local Children’s Partnership Groups and new “Theme Teams”, which will co-ordinate local delivery of the programme and make recommendations on where programme funding should be spent. A “Network Champions” scheme has been established to expand the reach of the programme and promote engagement and involvement with the programme at a local level.
An initial governance structure, consisting of a multi-agency Executive Board and an operational Delivery Board, has been established to oversee Reconnect and manage the allocated budget. The Delivery Board will lead on the operational delivery of the programme, and co-ordinate the “Theme Teams”, and the Executive Board will provide strategic direction for the programme. Reconnect will also link to existing KCC governance structures, reporting to CYPE’s DMT, CMT, Cabinet and Cabinet Committees as appropriate.
The options considered were:
· Option 1 – do nothing.
· Option 2 – use existing structures only to deliver new initiatives.
· Option 3 – use existing structures and create new temporary structures to deliver new initiatives.
· Option 4 – use new structures only these to deliver new initiatives.
Option 3 was selected as the best option for delivery of the programme because existing networks and connections can be utilised, and additional structures and resources can drive the programme and create change. This option carries a funding requirement because resources are required to introduce, integrate and manage new structures, but this option provides the framework that gives the programme the greatest chance of success.
Alignment of the programme to KCC’s strategic objectives
The County Council’s stated vision for Children and Young people is:
“We want the best for all children in Kent. Our driving ambition is to deliver the best outcomes we can for all children, young people, and their families. We constantly aim for Kent to be the most forward-looking area in England for care, education and learning, supported by specialist and early help services so that we are the best place for children and young people to grow up safely, learn, develop and achieve.”
The Reconnect programme seeks to support the achievement of this vision, providing enjoyable opportunities for children and young people to engage in to help them be safe, learn, develop, and achieve.
Decision type: Key
Reason Key: Expenditure or savings of more than £1m;
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Division affected: (All Division);
Notice of proposed decision first published: 26/05/2021
Decision due: 24 Jun 2021 by Cabinet
Lead director: Matt Dunkley CBE
Contact: David Adams, Director of Education Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 01233 898559.
The timing of Cabinet and Cabinet Committee meetings following the County Council elections does not provide the opportunity for Cabinet Committees to consider Reconnect before Cabinet. However an all Member briefing has been arranged for 16th June 2021, views from which will be conveyed to Cabinet. A report will be provided to CYPE Cabinet Committee for noting, confirming the situation. Views on the Reconnect programme have been sought from Opposition Members and the Chairs of Local Children’s Partnership Groups. Feedback has been positive and Members recognise the importance of the programme and the need to fund it accordingly.
Financial implications: It is proposed that the programme be provided with dedicated KCC funding and be the umbrella for specific grant funding which supports the aims of Reconnect. The activities and projects funded by the programme will be additional to the core activity of KCC’s directorates, and the funding commitments will be time limited and will not be a recurring cost to the Council beyond 31 August 2022. Recommendations relating to funding for the programme will be made as part of the year end outturn report which will be presented to Cabinet in June 2021.
Legal implications: Delivery of the Reconnect Programme fits within the legal powers and duties held by the County Council. Where specific grant funding streams are used by the Programme, spend will be in accordance with the grant conditions. Spend will also be made in accordance with KCC’s rules on spending the Council’s money.
Equalities implications: 1) The programme aims to be universal, supporting all children and young people aged 2 to 19/24 years old. 2) A good proportion of the external funding has grant criteria targeting this to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals, with clear eligibility criteria such as entitlement to Free School Meals. This is intended to help ensure household income is not a barrier to participation. 3) Efforts will be made to target specific groups who are vulnerable, either by raising their awareness of the opportunities provided by the funding to ensure they do not miss out, or by direct provision of support. 4) Evidence on the impact of Covid-19 on protected characteristics will be sought and used to influence decision making. 5) Any document made available to the public to support accessing funds will also be made available in accessible formats as appropriate. 6) An EqIA screening will be completed by the appropriate organisation for all initiatives using this funding.