Agenda and draft minutes

Dorset Council - Corporate Parenting Board
Tuesday, 11th June, 2019 3.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ. View directions

Contact: Liz Eaton, Democratic Services Officer  01305 225113 - Email: Liz.Eaton@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To elect a Chairman for the year 2019/20.

Minutes:

That Toni Coombs be elected Chairman for the year 2019/20.

 

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Vice-Chairman for the year 2019/20.

Minutes:

That Richard Biggs be appointed Vice-Chairman for the year 2019/2020.

3.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made at the meeting.

 

4.

Terms of Reference

The main role of the Corporate Parenting Board will be to assist Dorset Council and its partners to understand and fully comply with legal duties and responsibilities across all services, as they discharge those duties to look after children and care leavers. The Board will also promote member and workforce engagement, commitment and understanding of the Corporate Parenting principles introduced by the Children & Social Work Act 2017.

 

Minutes:

The Terms of Reference were noted. 

 

The Chairman understood that new Terms of Reference were being drafted and would be considered at the next meeting of the Board.

 

One member asked for the draft Terms of Reference to be circulated so that members of the Board could make comment.

 

Resolved 

1.  That Officers circulate the draft Terms of Reference to members of the Board for their comment.

2.  That the new Terms of Reference be considered at the next meeting of the Board on the 15 July 2019.

5.

Children's Placements - Use of Unregulated Placements

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

 

Minutes:

The Corporate Parenting Board considered a report by the Executive Director People – Children on Children’s Placements – Use of Unregulated Placements.

 

The Senior Manager Placements and Resources explained that unregulated placements were temporary in nature.  The challenge had been ending the placements and moving young people to regulated settings.  Dorset was not unique and the picture was improving, it was hoped that in about a week’s time the authority would only have 3 young people in unregulated placements, previously there had been 9.  There were, however, 2 young people for whom it was extremely difficult to find a suitable placement. 

 

An unregulated placement was defined by government as caravan type accommodation or bed and breakfast accommodation, Dorset avoided using bed and breakfast, or holiday rental cottage accommodation.  On occasion an agency may be contacted to provide a placement and staff. 

 

The Executive Director for People – Children explained that on occasion there would be a placement break down and a child had to be placed somewhere very quickly the best option would be to place them in a placement with Dorset staff.

 

The Senior Manager Placements and Resources confirmed the Council had acquired the Caretakers Bungalow at Colehill First School which had been refurbished and redecorated and would soon be ready for use as emergency accommodation within Dorset.  The Council was also inviting foster carers to become retained foster carers to provide short term accommodation.  The Executive Director for People – Children mentioned not all unregulated placements were in county.  Two placements were, at present, in Somerset.  Officers were working closely with Somerset County Council to look at what could be achieved around placement providers and sharing.

 

The Executive Director for People – Children confirmed they were currently developing re-establishing a children’s home within the county to hopefully reduce the need to use unregulated placements.

 

The Senior Manager Placements and Resources explained one young person had a number of placements which had broken down and they had been placed in an unregulated placement and had been there for 8 months now and want to stay where they were.  They had a good relationship with the staff and they wanted to stay where they were, any change would be extremely disruptive and harmful to them at present.  A review plan of unregulated placements was regularly undertaken and officers visited weekly.  They were constantly reviewing the search to ensure the best welfare of the child.

 

One member referred to one of the case studies in the report where the young person had 22 placements to date and asked over what period of time were the placements.

 

Officers explained in that particular case several arrangements had broken down over a period of time. 

 

The Chairman asked how long the young person had been in the care system and how many moves had taken place.  Officers mentioned the Psychologists had advised the young person should not be moved and that reviews were undertaken every 4 weeks.  The young person had provided a pen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Children in Care Council Update

To receive an update from the Children in Care Council and Participation People.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive of Participation People introduced a member of the Care Leavers (and Children) in Care Council (CLICC) who introduced herself and mentioned she would circulated dates for the diary of activities for 2019 which she hoped members of the Board would be able to attend.

 

She informed the Board of the activities CLICC had been involved in; one of which was face mask painting and African drumming.  The awards ceremony was held in October.  In May they had visited London and attended Children’s Rights and talked to a poet who had been in care and discussed his experiences.

 

The Chairman mentioned she thought that everyone coming into Dorset was told about their rights.  CLICC thought it might be easier if they received a sheet with their rights written on.   

 

The Chief Executive Participation People confirmed during the past year they had produced a Looked After Children (LAC) Pack which was given to all young people coming into care.  She referred to the annual satisfaction survey, and how they had spoken with young people about advocacy and how to complain and to the Board meeting held in February 2019 where CLICC had discussed being called LAC.  The problems they had with travel arrangements and, as a result, she had been working with officers to resolve some of the issues. CLICC had produced a magazine and moving forward they would produce homework for CPB members to be given at every meeting of the Board.  Training sessions on “What does it mean to be a child in care?” were being held during July, August and October which CLICC would like Board members to sign up to.  An email would be circulated to members for them to respond.

 

The Corporate Parenting Officer discussed how to engage members who were not on CPB and suggested that CLICC offer some training days and asked CPB members to encourage other members to attend.

 

The CLICC member mentioned the Happy Dorset video and what would make Dorset a better place to live.  The Chief Executive Participation People confirmed the aim was to inspire Corporate Parents to remind them of what it was like to be a young person, she would email Board members a link to the video.

 

Looking to the future CLICC informed the Board they would be performing Shrek the musical to be held at Stratton Village Hall on 31 July 2019, they were having a day of exercise and a CLICC logistic operation and problem solving afternoon.  How to contact a social worker when they were on holiday and could not speak with anyone was proving a real problem as was broken promises.  A day out for CLICC was to be arranged, probably to a theme park. 

 

The Chairman referred to broken promises and changes of staff, it was not the first time she had heard this.

 

The Executive Director for People – Children mentioned the challenge was that social workers wanted to do their best but things were not easily followed through.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Children in Care and Care Leavers Performance Overview

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

 

Minutes:

The Corporate Parenting Board considered a report by the Executive Director People – Children on Children in Care and Care Leavers Performance Overview.

 

The Assistant Director for Commissioning and Partnerships informed the Board the report provided an overview of children in care and care leavers that looked back over the last 6 months and compared Dorset’s performance against other councils nationally as well as with its statistical neighbours, which were councils that had similar characteristics to Dorset. As well as providing an overview of the numbers of children in care, new entries to care and children who had left care, the report showed different legal status of young people with a high proportion accommodated under Section 20.  10% of children in care had a disability and 86% of children had their review completed on time.

 

On page 30 the graphs showed the movement within the children in care cohort and looked at new children in care.   80 new children had come into care in the last 6 months and 93 had left care which included those children living in Christchurch.  16% of children left care due to adoption.  Special Guardianship was low.

 

One member asked what Special Guardianship was and officers explained the Special Guardianship Court make an order when a child cannot live with their parents but can live with a member of the family or a friend.  It was a legal order and people were assessed to ensure they were suitable to look after the child.

 

Page 31 showed that 70% of children were living in foster care, a reduction from 76%.  Almost half of Dorset’s children in care were living in the Council’s own provision.  It was explained that some Children Looked After (CLA) were placed out of county and in some cases that would be Bournemouth or Poole and others would be further away.  Officers wanted to avoid too many placement moves and work was being undertaken on placement stability.  

 

The Chairman thought it would be useful to have unregulated placements shown in the table. 

 

One member asked why the information showed very low numbers of children being place for adoption.  The Assistant Director for Commissioning and Partnerships agreed to investigate the accuracy of the data.

 

The CLICC representative asked why so many children were placed in Dorset for 2 or more years.  Officers informed her that was because for some children staying in care it was the right thing to do and for various reasons being in a long-term foster placement was also the right thing, some young people would stay in care until they could live independently.  

 

The Chairman asked if officers were receiving reports of those children not being seen why were there reports for 12-18 weeks.  Officers informed the Board sometimes there was a time lag between someone inputting the system and the visit.  This was being addressed.  The Chairman commented that if there were outcomes of the visit to be written up and they were not being written up we were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Initial Health Assessments

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

Minutes:

Resolved

That this item be deferred until the next meeting of the Board on the 15 July 2019.

9.

Update Report IRO Service - Annual Work Programme for April 2018 - March 2019

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

 

Minutes:

Resolved

That this item be deferred until the next meeting of the Board on 15 July 2019.

10.

Pathway Plans

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

 

Minutes:

Resolved

That this item be deferred until the next meeting of the Board on 15 July 2019.

11.

Children Who are Disabled

To consider a report by the Executive Director of People – Children.

 

Minutes:

Resolved

That this item be deferred until the next meeting of the Board on 15 July 2019.