Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 2 June 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Skype Meeting

Contact: Gemma Duckworth (0116 3052583)  Email: gemma.duckworth@leics.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

Webcast.

A webcast of the meeting can be viewed at [insert link].

76.

Minutes. pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on3 March 2020 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.

77.

Question Time.

Minutes:

The following questions, received under Standing Order 34, were put to the Chairman of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

 

(A)       Mrs Louise Engels asked the following question of the Chairman of the Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

 

Accountability and conflict resolution for schools who are not following the SEND Code of Practice and not supporting children who struggle through SEND support plans.  The SEND Code of Practice describes the local authority duty to have a resolution service when schools and parents disagree.  What plans does the local authority have to support listening to parents and supporting them with conflict resolution and holding schools accountable?

 

Mrs H Fryer CC replied as follows:

 

The local authority recognises the paramount importance of supporting children with additional needs as early as possible.  Most children with SEND can progress well in school without the need for an Education Health and Care Plan.  On a day to day basis the vast majority of matters between parents and schools are resolved amicably through formal and informal meetings and discussions in school, without the need for the local authority to be involved.  Where parents need additional information, advice or support, Leicestershire commissions and provides a well-established local SENDIAS Service, who undertake a wide range of activity to support parents/carers of children with special needs, at every stage.  The following website contains detailed information about how they can support parents who are concerned about their child at ‘SEND Support’.  The website contains some very accessible and information You Tube videos: https://sendiassleicester.org.uk/

 

Supplementary Question

 

Mrs Engels asked a supplementary question to identify what support the local authority gave to parents to resolve disagreements for all children and young people with SEND, not only those with EHC Plans, in particular how SEN duties are carried out by the local authority or education setting, the SEND provision made by an educational setting, and health or social care provision in relation to EHC needs assessments.  Mrs Engels also stated that Chapter 11 of the SEND Code of Practice includes the local authorities duties to arrange Disagreement Resolution services, which are in addition to support and advice from SENDIASS and ECHP mediation.  Mrs Engels asked if the local authority has decided not to provide a disagreement resolution service, what can parents do when schools are not accountable through their own complaints processes, and to prevent the need for EHCP appeals and formal complaints to the Ombudsman?

 

At the invitation of the Chairman, the Director of Children and Family Services replied to the effect that the local authority commissioned SENDIASS to support families where there was a disagreement.  If there was an issue between a school and a parent for a child with an EHCP, the SENA Service undertook informal meetings with parents/carers to try to reach a resolution – this was a duty under the Code of Practice.  If the local authority was commissioning a placement or SENDIASS services and parents displayed concerns, it was also the duty of the local authority to look into this in more detail.  Whilst there wasn’t a formal local authority Disagreement Resolution Service, processes were in place to resolve any disagreements, including social care and early help.  In terms of SEND support, the new Inclusion Service would support parents and settings in best identifying how children’s needs could be met.  In addition, the local authority commissioned Global to undertake formal mediation, but before moving into the formal process, there were opportunities for informal disagreement resolution to take place.  Parents were signposted to this and when the SENA Service corresponded with them, the local  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.

78.

Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

79.

Urgent Items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration.

80.

Declarations of interest.

Minutes:

The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

No declarations were made.

81.

Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the party whip.

82.

Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 36.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no petitions had been received under Standing Order 36.

83.

Draft Children and Family Service Departmental Plan 2020/23. pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the report be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which presented the draft Leicestershire Children and Family Service Departmental Plan 2020-2023.  The new Departmental Plan set out the vision and ambition for its services and the department had identified four ambitions and associated priority actions to contribute towards improving outcomes for children, young people and families in Leicestershire.  A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 8’, is filed with these minutes.

 

Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:

 

(i)              A wide range of consultation had taken place in order to develop the Plan; much of this had been based on how the department sought direct feedback from the children, young people and families with whom the service worked, but it was also through specific engagement activity through a number of forums, for example the Youth Council for Leicestershire, Children in Care Council, Supporting People After Care Council and the SEND Parent Carer Forum – the view of these had been considered as part of the development of the Plan.  The Plan had also been shaped by the key themes arising from the Make Your Mark Campaign, which was a national youth ballot of issues that were most important to young people.

 

(ii)             In response to a query, both positive and negative feedback from children, young people, parents and carers had been used to directly inform the Plan and examples of this had been included throughout the document.  The department had seen the feedback as a positive tool.

 

(iii)           It was noted that the key priorities in the previous Departmental Plan had remained as ambitions in the new Plan.  The was more of a focus through the inclusion of a set of priorities for each of the ambitions and these had been developed based on what was known about the children and families in Leicestershire.  There had been no significant changes although the separate policy around children’s emotional mental health and wellbeing had been removed and this issue had been incorporated into all the ambitions of the new Plan.

 

(iv)           In relation to performance figures, it would be possible to compare these to what had previously been achieved.  The document set out what it was hoped would be achieved through the delivery of the Plan but further work would take place around the section on impact and outcomes to give more context to what was being achieved.  The department produced, on a quarterly basis, its performance report and this would include the outcomes that would be achieved.  This would also include numbers and percentages, regional comparisons and quartile performance.

 

(v)            In line with the impact of Covid-19 on the department and children and families, the department was currently looking at how it would step up services and what would be different or additional to previously.  As a result, the Departmental Plan would be reviewed and should it be necessary, additional priorities would be added.   It was likely thatthe priorities would need to be revisited in the light of the planned review of the MTFS and Strategic Plan.

 

The Committee acknowledged that there were a few amendments to be made to the draft Plan prior to its publication, but agreed that it was a very clear document.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

84.

Leicestershire Children and Families Partnership Plan 2018/21: Progress Update. pdf icon PDF 386 KB

Decision:

That the report be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which provided an update on progress of the Children and Families Partnership Plan 2018-21.  A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 9’ is filed with these minutes. 

 

Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:

 

(i)              In response to a query, it was stated that Mr Ould CC chaired the Partnership.  There were give priority areas in the Plan and each was led by a senior officer of the Partnership.  The Partnership involved a wide range of agencies and this reflected the breadth of services available for children and families.  Agencies were very committee to the Partnership and working together and the priority leads also undertook work through a series of sub-groups.  Mr Ould CC reiterated that this was a critical group for the future of children and families, and he undertook regular meetings with the priority leads, the majority of which had worked very well and had pulled everyone together.  The Partnership was dynamic and provided a vehicle to harmonise services for the benefit of children and families.

 

(ii)             A member raised the fact that knife crime was a priority and sought assurance that the protection of young people against substance misuse was not lost.  It was stated that the Partnership had previously received a presentation from CYCLe around knife crime and this had demonstrated how big an issue this was for young people.  Also linked into this was work around County Lines, the inclusion programme for schools and work with the Clinical Commissioning Groups and Public Health.  The Director of Children and Family Services confirmed that the priorities which had been set by the Partnership had been influenced by the views of young people.  Knife crime remained one of the key issues for young people across the county but reassurance was given that the issues surrounding substance misuse were a critical issue for the Partnership.  It was also important to note that the Plan did not provide a detailed description of all the work that was being undertaken. 

 

(iii)           It was noted that Knife Angel, which had been due to visit Leicestershire in May, had now been postponed until May 2021.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

85.

Children in Need of Help and Protection. pdf icon PDF 283 KB

Decision:

a)    That the report be noted;

 

b)    That a further report, arising from the audit work being undertaken, be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which provided an overview of the work in the department relating to children within Leicestershire who required help and protection, and a summary of the local authority’s performance in relation to this cohort of Leicestershire’s most vulnerable children.  A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 10’ is filed with these minutes.

 

Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:

 

(i)              There had been an initial reduction in contacts at the front door during Covid-19, but this was now back to the usual rate.  There had been good performance at the front door in relation to the number of assessments completed and timeliness.  This was a measure working on a basis that it was right and proper that the assessed needs of children were identified as soon as possible and could put in place the appropriate measures.  Front door performance was measured against statistical neighbours and high performing authorities.

 

(ii)             Since 2017, the recruitment and retention turnover rate had improved and the vacancy rate had decreased.  There had been difficulties recruiting permanent staff in some localities and a commitment had therefore been made to employ agency staff whilst the posts were recruited to.  The department had been awarded some growth monies to enable to recruit to some additional social worker posts and whilst these were being recruited to, agency staff would cover the posts.  However, reassurance was given that the number of permanent posts had increased significantly.

 

(iii)           The re-referral rate was constantly monitored and there had recently been an increase.  Concern was raised by a member around the re-referral rate to ensure that children were not being referred on numerous occasions due to their needs had not been appropriately assessed.  Reassurance was given that the re-referral rate was not necessarily that the case had been referred to the front door and no further action had been taken.  This would include any child who had had involvement from the service at any point.  It was possible that the child had been involved with the service, this had ended and they were then referred back at a later stage.  This was not because the assessment had not worked as it had been hoped.  This was an area that was monitored closely and audit work was taking place to understand and address the recent increase in re-referrals.  It was agreed that the results from the audit would be reported to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

a)    That the report be noted;

 

b)    That a further report, arising from the audit work being undertaken, be presented to a future meeting of the Committee.

86.

Leicestershire's Response to Tackling Child Criminal Exploitation. pdf icon PDF 268 KB

Decision:

That the report be noted.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Director of Children and Family Services which provided an overview of the work and progress of the Child Criminal Exploitation, Missing and Trafficked Hub.  A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 11’ is filed with these minutes.

 

Arising from the discussion, the following points were raised:

 

(i)              A query was raised at to whether Covid-19 had had any impact on County Lines activity.  In relation to current activity, the service had seen a reduction in missing episodes for the most prolific young people who went missing.  There was evidence to suggest that young people had been more frightened during the period.  An enforcement was planned within the next two weeks where Leicestershire County Council would be supporting Leicestershire Police in identifying any safeguarding issues for the properties where the Police would be executing warrants.  The Force Intelligence Bureau still continued to look at intelligence and meetings were taking place to discuss the current picture as it was possible that County Lines activity was more undercover than usual.

 

(ii)             A member sought assurance that Leicestershire Police had co-operation with neighbouring forces, such as Derbyshire and Staffordshire, due to concern that drugs could come into the county from other areas.  There was a regional response to criminal exploitation; Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire Police were represented regionally and it was the intention to develop a resource which echoed what Leicestershire did – if a young person crossed into Leicestershire, a package was developed that travelled with the young person wherever they moved to.  Leicestershire Police had a number of links with the Metropolitan Police in respect of County Lines coming from London, and the Force Intelligence Bureau continued to develop links with other authorities.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted.

87.

Date of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Committee is scheduled to take place on 1 September 2020 at 2.00pm.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

It was noted that the next meeting of the Committee would be held on 1 September 2020 at 2.00pm.

 

88.

Mr. I. D. Ould OBE CC.

Minutes:

This was to be Mr Ould’s last meeting as Lead Member for Children and Family Services.  Mr Ould said that he had enjoyed his time in this position and he wished the department well.  The Committee thanked Mr Ould for his contribution and all the work he had undertaken.