Agenda and minutes

Venue: Board Room 2 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Bryony Gibbs, Governance Officer  020 8937 1355, Email: bryony.gibbs@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The committee is advised that the public may be excluded from meetings whenever it is likely in view of the nature of the proceedings that exempt information would be disclosed. Meetings of the Corporate Parenting Committee are attended by representatives of Care In Action (CIA), the council’s Children in Care Council. The committee is therefore recommended to exclude the press and public for the duration of the meeting,  as the attendance of CIA representatives necessitates the disclosure of the following category of exempt information, set out in the Local Government Act 1972:  - information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the duration of the meeting, on the grounds that the attendance of representatives from the council’s Children in Care council, necessitated the disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph2, Part 1 of Schedule 12A, as amended, of the Act, namely: Information which is likely to reveal the identity of an individual.

2.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Kansagra and Thakkar. Councillor Sangani was in attendance in place of Councillor Thakkar.

3.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda.

Minutes:

For purposes of transparency, Councillor Conneely advised that she worked for a local mental health charity in Brent and some young people accessing the services provided were Looked After Children (LAC).

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 30 October 2018 be agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

5.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were no matter’s arising.

6.

Update from Care In Action Representatives

This is an opportunity for members of Care In Action (CIA) to feedback on recent activity.

Minutes:

The committee received an update from the Care in Action (CIA) representatives on activity since the last meeting. HS advised that as part of the London Wide Care in Action group, focus groups were being held with LAC and Care Leavers to identify key areas of improvement across London. The findings would be communicated to MPs and Councillors. Gail Tolley (Strategic Director, Children and Young People) added that the report would also be submitted to Association of London Directors of Children’s Services. The Chair confirmed that she would identify whether there was a London Councils Lead Member group for Children’s Services and would report back accordingly.

 

JBK then advised that the Junior care in Action meeting had taken place and had included pizza, science based activities, board games, and basketball and football as usual. In response to a query regarding recruitment to the Junior CIA, HS advised that recruitment activity had been undertaken at the celebration events but advised that some foster carers did not appear to be particularly eager to support foster children attending. Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) suggested that officers facilitate a dialogue between CIA and the foster carer support group to better understand and address any issues around supporting attendance of younger members.

 

JBK further advised that he would be performing in the Voice in a Million concert as part of the Children in Care choir. The event aimed to raise awareness of Children in Care and would be held in the SSE Arena on 21 and 28 March 2019. JBK would be singing a solo as part of the performance!

 

HM advised that she and other members of Care in Action had attended a staff conference event in November 2018 to share their personal experiences as LAC and Care Leavers. This had been very well received and it was hoped had made people think about how they impacted on the lives of LAC and Care Leavers.

 

BJ informed the committee that the Care in Action end of year celebration had been held, with secret Santa and other fun activities.

 

The Chair thanked the CIA representatives for their update to the committee.

7.

Brent Looked After Children Health Annual Report 2017-2018 by NHS Brent Clinical Commissioning Group and Brent LAC Health Team - London Northwest University NHS Trust (LNWUHT) pdf icon PDF 428 KB

This report combines NHS Brent CCG and the Provider Health reports for Looked After Children (LAC). The health provider is London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWUHT).  The report outlines the delivery of health services to LAC by the London Borough of Brent, in line with National Statutory Guidance, and reviews performance indicators, clinical work undertaken by the LAC health team, service improvements and plans for further development.

Minutes:

Dr Arlene Boroda (Designated Doctor for Safeguarding Children, Brent CCG) delivered a presentation to the committee summarising the Brent LAC Health Annual Report 2017-18.  The Annual Report outlined the delivery of health services to LAC by the London Borough of Brent and combined NHS Brent CCG and Provider health reports; it included performance indicators, clinical work undertaken by the LAC health team, service improvements and plans for further development.

 

During the presentation, Dr Boroda drew the committee’s attention to the statutory monitoring requirements, noting that the majority of health assessments for LAC were completed within the statutory timeframe. Any that were not undertaken within timescales were analysed to ascertain the reasons for delay and whether  improvements to arrangements were needed. Members further heard about Brent’s audit tool, used to assess the quality of health assessments, and which would be used across the eight North West London CCGs. The audit explored issues of thoroughness, identification of health needs, consent, voice of the child, record keeping, developmental and educational needs, risk factors, and substance abuse, among others. Highlighting areas for improvement, Dr Boroda noted that these included the recording of who was in the room during health checks, the  tracking of immunisations, dental and vision checks, and supporting transitions between children’s and adults’ services.

 

In the subsequent discussion, the committee questioned how the statutory requirements were met for those young people who did not want to engage with LAC health services. Assurance was sought regarding the quality of the working relationship with London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust (LNWUHT). Clarification was sought regarding the numbers of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) in Brent. The committee queried what actions would be undertaken to deliver against the conclusions identified from the analysis of UASC health assessments. Questions were raised regarding non-NHS service providers and how the council and CCG engaged these groups to ensure that the care and quality provided was sufficient. Further details were also sought regarding vulnerable LAC in prisons and the barriers to understanding whether their disabilities and learning needs were being addressed. Committee members raised further questions regarding mental health support when transitioning between children’s and adults services.

 

The Chair invited questions and contributions from the CIA representatives who sought an update on activity relating to a matter on which they had been previously consulted regarding mental health support

 

Responding to the queries raised, Dr Boroda explained that if a child or young person appeared unwilling to engage, an offer could be made to hold the assessment over the phone initially or in a place where the young person felt safe and comfortable. The team would also work to identify and utilise any existing channels of engagement with the individual established by other services. It was emphasised that for safeguarding and LAC services, communication and connectivity with the LNWUHT worked well.

 

Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) clarified that there had been an overall decline in the numbers of UASC from 2016/17. Dr Boroda provided an overview of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Feedback from Looked After Children: Outcome of Bright Spots Questionnaire 2018 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

This report presents feedback from Looked After Children provided via the Bright Spots Questionnaire 2018.  

Minutes:

The committee received a report setting out feedback from the Bright Spots “Your Life, Your Care” Survey for 2018. The survey, delivered by Coram Voice, sought to measure the quality of Looked After Children’s care experience and their sense of well-being. This was the second year that Brent’s children and young people had taken part. The report detailed the actions which had been taken following analysis of the previous year’s survey, including review of contact arrangements, social work realignment to provide competitive recruitment and retention packages, and support to foster carers to provide children with a wider range of outdoor opportunities.

 

Outlining the key messages of the 2018 survey, Janice Altenor (Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance) highlighted the positive feedback received including children and young people reporting feeling settled in their placements and having trusted relationships with their social workers. Addressing areas identified for improvement, Janice Altenor explained that the percentage of children who reported trusting their carers (81 per cent)  was lower than in other authorities (96 percent); children and young people continued to want more contact with significant family members; Brent had a higher percentage of children experiencing more than one social worker in the past 12 month period; high proportions of children aged 8-11 years were worried about bullying;  and, young people aged 11 to 18 years were less likely to have a good friend than elsewhere.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to section 5 of the report which set out the activities underway in response to the issues and concerns highlighted. These activities included: supporting foster carers to understand the challenges faced by older LAC in building trusting relationships; a continued focus on increased promotion of contact with family members; further recruitment and retention activities; and raising awareness amongst LAC’s schools and foster carers of the concerns expressed about bullying. In concluding the introduction, Janice Altenor explained that efforts would be made to better promote the survey next year to encourage more LAC to get involved.

 

The Chair invited views from the Care in Action representatives, who emphasised the importance of the feedback and shared how some of the issues identified had affected them.

 

The committee then directed a number of questions to the presenting officers, including whether Britain’s impending withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) could affect efforts to recruit and retain social work staff. Further details were sought on the actions to address concerns about bullying and members questioned whether the results had been analysed by in borough and out of borough placements.

 

In response, Gail Tolley advised that the Department for Education (DfE) had written to all Directors of Children’s Services regarding Brexit and the potential impact on workforce. Brent had undertaken an analysis and had identified a small number of staff who would be affected. Those members of staff had been given advice and guidance regarding the process for applying for the resettlement scheme. Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) advised that the council also recruited social workers from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Brent Fostering Service Quarterly Monitoring Report: Quarter 3: 1 October to 31 December 2018 pdf icon PDF 159 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide information to the Council’s Corporate Parenting Committee about the general management of the in-house fostering service and how it is achieving good outcomes for children. This is in accordance with standard 25.7 of the Fostering National Minimum Standards (2011).

Minutes:

Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) introduced the Brent Fostering Service Quarterly Monitoring Report for the period 1 October 2018 to 31 December 2018. Members attention was drawn to the summary of activities regarding foster carer recruitment. Onder Beter highlighted that these had not proven as fruitful as hoped and moving forward, new ideas would be explored with the new Marketing and Recruitment Officer. One such idea was that the Marketing and Recruitment Officer would attend some home visits with supervising social workers to map networks to identify potential recruitment opportunities. Proposals were also contained in the 2020-22 budget, for joint recruitment activity with neighbouring boroughs. Pooling resources in this way would enable the local authority to better compete with Independent Fostering Agencies and, if approved, it was hoped to have a joint recruitment campaign from May 2019. Drawing Members attention to other key activity, Onder Beter advised that Brent offered a strong learning and development offer for foster carers and had received very positive feedback from the 23 courses which had been held in the reporting period. Positive feedback had also been received in relation to the foster carers ball, an event which had been held in December 2018, to thank Brent’s foster cares for looking after the children and to encourage lifelong links for children.  

 

Members questioned how a forthcoming recruitment event had been advertised and were informed that in addition to social media, open evenings were featured in the Brent Magazine and on the council’s website, stands were held and events were promoted directly in the community in a variety of ways. In response to a query from a member of Care in Action, Onder Beter acknowledged the value of LAC and Care Leavers sharing their experiences directly with foster carers and staff and advised that this could be explored for recruitment and open evening events.  

 

The Chair thanked everyone for their contribution to the discussion.

 

 

 

10.

Verbal update on 'Regionalisation of Adoption'

Members will be provided with a verbal update on the progress made with regard to the Regionalisation of Adoption.

Minutes:

Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) updated the committee on the progress in establishing a West London Regional Adoption Agency. Members were informed that the process was nearing completion. The London Borough of Hillingdon had recently withdrawn however, and this had necessitated further work to redraw the model, which would subsequently be submitted to Cabinet for approval.

11.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.

Minutes:

None.