Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Manize Talukdar, Democratic & Electoral Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1323 E-mail:  manize.talukdar@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Members:-

 

Ordinary Member

 

Reserve Member

 

Councillor Simon Brown

Councillor Maxine Henson

Councillor Lynda Seymour

Councillor Dr Lesline Lewinson

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Panel;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: To note that the following interests was declared:

 

All Agenda Items

 

Councillor Maxine Henson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she had been in care.  She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered.

3.

Appointment of Vice Chair

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that Councillor Janet Mote be appointed Vice-Chair for the 2018/19 Municipal Year.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 142 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 March 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 March 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

5.

Public Questions, Petitions & Deputations

To receive any public questions received in accordance with paragraph 16 of the Executive Procedure Rules.

 

Questions will be asked in the order in which they were received.  There will be a time limit of 15 minutes for the asking and answering of public questions.

 

[The deadline for receipt of public questions if 3.00 pm, Thursday 28 June 2018.  Questions should be sent to publicquestions@harrow.gov.uk

No person may submit more than one question].

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that there were none.

RESOLVED ITEMS

6.

Activity and Performance pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Report of the Corporate Director, People.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report of the Corporate Director, People, which set out activity for Children Looked After and care leavers and the provisional performance position at 31 March 2018.

 

Following questions & comments from Members, an officer advised that:

 

·                     with regard to those CLAs (Children Looked After) with at least one missing episode a year, he did not have to hand figures regarding what proportion of those children, once they had been found, remained in care and what proportion eventually returned to their families.  He undertook to circulate this information to the Panel after the meeting.  He added that children did better within a stable environment and that any strategy was based on an assessment of each child’s long-term needs;

 

·                     the data in the report included those CLAs who had been placed out of borough.  The officer confirmed that there were no major issues related to those placements as they were tightly monitored and reviewed;

 

·                     there were no major patterns emerging in relation to the reasons for CLAs going missing.  It should be noted that teenagers with complex needs could often be difficult to manage.  OFSTED had specific expectations with regard to how missing CLAs episodes were managed and had indicated that there should be an agreed process for practice and for recording the episodes;

 

·                     the high proportion of care leavers who were NEET (not in education or training) related to challenges around engaging young people, or could be due to other reasons, for example, because they may be in custody.  It was important to note that 10% of Harrow’s care leavers went on to university;

 

·                     there was a Virtual School in every borough in England and Wales.  The school provided educational support to all CLAs and worked closely with their foster carers, social workers and designated teachers.  The head teacher of the Virtual School worked closely with relevant stakeholders and key partners to monitor and improve pupils’ attainment, progress and attendance.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

7.

Harrow Children Looked After pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Report of the Head of Children’s Services and Operations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report of the Head of Children’s Services and Operations at Central and North West London NHS Foundation which set out the delivery of health services to Harrow’s Children Looked After during March-April 2018.

 

Following questions & comments from Members, an officer advised that:

 

·                     the Client Satisfaction Survey had revealed that 95% of CLAs felt that the care they received was excellent.  The remaining 5% had indicated that they would prefer to be with their families rather than be looked after;

 

·                     the CLA health team had given a presentation at the Royal College of Nursing Conference (which was an example of excellent partnership working) and this had been well received.  As of 1 July 2018, CNWL had commenced providing the 0-19 healthy child programme in Harrow (health visiting and school nursing).  Members would be invited to the forthcoming launch event in the Autumn term;

 

·                     with regard to the broader survey, the Health Assessment questionnaire had been reviewed and amended and the results of the survey would be reported to the Panel in 2019.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

8.

Missing Children Looked After pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Report of the Corporate Director, People.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report of the Corporate Director, People, regarding Children Looked After missing from care.

 

Following questions & comments from Members, an officer advised that:

 

·                     in cases where a CLA refused to return to their placement or foster family following an incidence of going missing, a Return Home Interview and an Assessment of Need would be carried out and the child’s views would be taken into consideration.  It was rare for children to request a new placement and children would only be returned to their families when it was safe to do so;

 

·                     there were no permanently missing CLAs in Harrow.  One child had returned to their family in Ethiopia, and Children’s Services had (after visiting him in Ethiopia) confirmed that there were no safeguarding issues in relation to that child;

 

·                     most of the CLAs who went missing were repeat offenders and were therefore well known to the Service.  Because they often had a good rapport with their social workers, who were familiar with their habits and hangouts, they were often easy to locate.  When a CLA went missing,  ‘Grab packs’ containing key information about the child would be shared with the police to enable them to speedily locate the child;

 

·                     there were 10 children who accounted for well over 50% of missing episodes for CLAs and care leavers.  Their circumstances were well known and the risks were managed through a weekly meeting attended by all heads of service.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

9.

Children's Services Self Assessment pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Report of the Corporate Director, People.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report of the Corporate Director, People, regarding the Children’s Services Self Assessment which provided an update on progress made since the previous inspection in 2017.

 

Following questions & comments from Members, an officer advised that:

 

·                     the report showed four key areas for improvement, which would be the subject of a pro-active action plan and would be monitored through the Improvement Board;

 

·                     the Self-Assessment report had been the subject of a sector-led peer review.  Harrow’s strong performance and value for money had been noted across West London as part of the review;

 

·                     the leaving Care Team was responsible for all CLAs up to the age of 25.  Care leavers were supported in a number of ways in preparation for independent living, for example, they could access supported lodgings and other residential and housing options; a training programme that included managing finances, relationships, education, employment and training, health and accommodation.  Additionally, CLAs in Harrow were now exempt from paying Council Tax.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

10.

Updated corporate parenting strategy pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Report of the Corporate Director, People.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report of the Corporate Director, People, which provided an update on the Corporate Parenting Strategy.

 

Following questions & comments from Members, an officer advised that:

 

·                     the provision of a Later Life letter was a statutory requirement for all children placed with adoptive parents.  These were more detailed and contained more personal history than a social worker’s case notes. They were written by the child's Social Worker in conjunction with the adopters' Social Worker and were given to prospective adopters.  The expectation was that the letter would be addressed to the child, but given to the adoptive parents for safe keeping.  The letter provided the child with an explanation of why he/she was adopted;

 

·                     ‘Letterbox books’ was an initiative whereby across the UK, young CLAs received their own parcel of books, stationery and other high quality materials once every month for six months, from May to October.  For many children, it was the first time they had received a letter or a parcel through the post and for some it was the first time they have had books of their own.  Research had shown that this initiative had led to improved reading ages among these children.  There was a similar scheme for older children.

 

A Member stated that the inclusion of a foster carer as an adviser to the Panel had proved fruitful and suggested that a second foster carer should be invited to join the Panel as a reserve to the current adviser.  She added that the current adviser should be formally written to confirm her re-appointment to the Panel.  This was agreed by the Panel.  An officer undertook to seek nominations for a reserve adviser.

 

Members were of the view that the participation of CLAs at previous Panel meetings had been fruitful and a cohort should be invited to participate at a future meeting of the Panel in 2018/19.  An officer undertook to arrange this. He added that the Corporate Parenting Strategy would be submitted to both Cabinet and Council for approval later in the year.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted and endorsed for presentation at Cabinet in September 2018.