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 Paragraph 2, 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:

None.

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:

None.

4.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

No deputations were received.

5.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 89 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 4 February 2019 be agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

6.

Matters arising (if any)

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

Minutes:

None raised.

7.

Order of Business

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the order of business be amended as below.

8.

National protocol on reducing the criminalisation of looked after children pdf icon PDF 123 KB

This report provides details of the National protocol on reducing the criminalisation of looked after children for the committee’s consideration and information.

Minutes:

Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) introduced the report on the National Protocol on Reducing Unnecessary Criminalisation of Looked After Children (LAC) and Care Leavers. The report summarised the Protocol, outlined current practice in Brent and detailed activities underway to further sharpen Brent’s response to this issue. Members were reminded that the committee had previously received a report on ‘Brent Looked After Children and Offending Behaviour’ in October 2017, which had highlighted many of the same themes and considerations.

 

The Committee heard that the Protocol was jointly published by the Department for Education (DfE), Home Office and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in November 2018. It was aimed at local authority children’s services, local care providers, youth offending services, the crown prosecution service, police, HM Courts and Tribunal Services, and local health services. The objectives and key principles of the Protocol focussed on a practice model that aimed to introduce preventative measures, reduce re-offending behaviour and rehabilitate young people who had offended via joint working between relevant agencies. The protocol drew attention to the impact of previous trauma, attachment issues and specific vulnerabilities of looked after children and care leavers and recommended the use of child centred, restorative approaches to address challenging offending behaviour.

 

Onder Beter advised that Brent was already proactive at ensuring LAC were not unnecessarily criminalised and the principles of the protocol were already embedded in much of the work of the council at both a strategic and operational level. Members heard that Brent’s Practice Framework included a restorative approach, which was used as appropriate by the Brent Youth Offending Service (YOS). The council had also embedded the Signs of Safety model across its social work practice and provided interventions in line with the suggested practice model. Whilst LAC young people continued to be over represented in the youth justice system, it was encouraging that the overall number of LAC young people supported by the YOS in Brent had reduced from 32 to 24 between June 2017 and January 2019.  Onder Beter advised that further work was still required, particularly with regard to Care Leavers. The LAC and Permanency Service had developed strong relationships with the YOS and other partners but further work was needed to continue to sharpen practice and to improve the connection with the Probation Service.

 

The Chair thanked Onder Beter for the introduction to the report and invited questions and contributions from the committee.

 

Members sought further information about the preventative interventions provided by the council and its partners, and how young people were supported to cease offending behaviour, including exiting gang activity.  Members noted that living in areas of high crime and deprivation was a commonly observed theme for the cohort of LAC and care leavers who had come into contact with offending, alongside difficulties relating to custody and resettlement in the community.  It was subsequently questioned what actions were taken to address these issues, what further work was required in this area and to what degree these issues were prioritised when  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update from Care In Action and Care Leavers in Action Representatives

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

Minutes:

JBK provided an update on the activities of Care in Action and Care Leavers in Action since the last meeting. The committee heard that the Junior Care in Action group had taken a trip to Kidzania and everyone had had a really good day. It was explained that Kidzania was a play city for children which allowed children to do different jobs such as radio show presenter, police officer, paramedic, fire fighter, tour guide and window cleaner. JBK had helped to supervise the visit and explained that it had been really fun but very hectic.

 

Care Leavers in Action had previously discussed the issue of cases being closed, sometimes without the knowledge of the young person, once a care leaver reached the age of 21. In response to the anxieties expressed regarding this matter, a council officer had attended the session to discuss the matter. JBK advised that he felt that the concerns of the care leavers had been taken on board. Onder Beter explained that sometimes a case would be closed if it was felt that there was no need for involvement at that current time. This did not however, exclude the possibility of the council providing further support to the young person in the future and they would always be encouraged to get in touch with any issues. Nigel Chapman explained that it had been a year since the council had developed and published its Care Leavers Offer and officers were currently in the process of reviewing the offer and seeking feedback from care leavers.

 

JBK advised that since the last meeting he had performed a solo in the Voice in a Million concert held at Wembley Arena. The committee and officers present congratulated JBK on this achievement.

 

The Chair thanked JBK for the update.

 

10.

Adoption Service 6-monthly report and regionalisation update pdf icon PDF 154 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide information to the Council’s Corporate Parenting Committee about the general management of the adoption service and how it is achieving good outcomes for children. 

Minutes:

Onder Beter (Head of LAC and Permanency) introduced the Brent Adoption Service Report for 1 October 2018 to 31 March 2019, highlighting that the council continued to perform well against the national indicator for the number of days between the date a child becomes a Looked After Child and the date that they are adopted. There had been a slight increase from the previous reporting period due to a particular case in which parents had appealed against their children being subject to a Placement Order, leading to a longer court process. Brent continued to perform better than the national or London average for this measure. The committee was informed that during this reporting period there had been three children adopted, five approvals of adoptive households, with six ongoing, and 11 applications for the Adoptions Support Fund (ASF). Onder Beter added that Brent was one of the West London authorities which most utilised the ASF.

 

Members’ attention was subsequently drawn to the update on the regionalisation of adoption. The committee heard that the Chair, Councillor M Patel, as Lead Member for Children’s Safeguarding, Early Help and Social Care, had presented the proposed arrangements for the West London Regional Adoption Agency (Adopt London West) between Brent, Hammersmith and Fulham, Hounslow and Ealing to the Cabinet. The proposals had been approved by the Cabinet. Hounslow Council and Ealing Council had also approved the proposals, leaving only Hammersmith and Fulham Council to complete the approval process. Consideration was now being given to when to commence the formal consultation process with staff affected by the changes. Various work streams were progressing at different levels to agree the detail of the arrangement. A draft partnership agreement setting out how the four local authorities would work together was currently being reviewed by the councils’ legal departments. It was now anticipated that the new arrangements would be implemented from September 2019.

 

In response to a query, Nigel Chapman confirmed that Ealing would remain the lead authority for the Regional Adoption Agency but would be required to report to the West London Regionalisation Steering Group. Brent was represented on this Group by Gail Tolley as the Statutory Director of Children’s Services for the borough. Brent Council would retain responsibility for ensuring that its adoption performance remained outstanding and furthermore, Adopt London West would be required to provide an annual performance report. Commenting on the arrangements for the Adoption Panel, Nigel Chapman explained that the details were still being agreed, but it was expected that there would be one Panel for all four authorities to ensure a more efficient use of resources. Further details would be shared with the committee when available.

 

In the subsequent discussion, the Committee welcomed the number of foster carers who had gone on to adopt the children they cared for. Several queries were raised regarding the frequency and impact of parents appealing against Placement Orders. Members questioned how many cases exceeded the 26 weeks’ target for resolution. In concluding their questions, the committee sought further  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Fostering Service Quarterly Report pdf icon PDF 194 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 January 2019 to 31 March 2019. Members’ attention was drawn to the summary of activities regarding foster carer recruitment. Onder Beter highlighted that 13 assessments had commenced during the reporting period with eight at Stage1 and five at Stage 2 of the process. There had been significant increase in the targeted recruitment activity and outreach activity undertaken, including an increased social media presence, following the recruitment of a Marketing Officer. This was reflected in the increased number of assessments from the last reporting period.

 

Outlining other key developments, Onder Beter highlighted the positive reception of the social pedagogue approach, noting that an art intervention workshop for foster carers, their birth children and foster children had been really well received. The committee further heard that one of the Fostering Team’s Supervising Social Workers had acquired a Level 3 Diploma in Social Pedagogy. This enabled her to work closely with Brent’s Social Pedagogue to assist in implementing social pedagogic practice.

 

In concluding his introduction to the report, Onder Beter updated members on the work with neighbouring local authorities to develop combined, needs-led, targeted marketing and recruitment and commissioning. The council was currently leading on this work, with Ealing and Hounslow councils and a bid was due to be submitted to the Department for Education for seed funding to further explore the feasibility of a joined up service for the three authorities.

 

The Chair thanked Onder Beter for his introduction to the report.

 

Reflecting on the feedback received from foster carers at a previous meeting of the committee, members subsequently questioned whether the take up of training was affected by the school holidays. Noting the recent successes in increasing targeted foster carer recruitment activity, the committee questioned the timeline for this being reflected in performance data for the percentage of children placed with in-house foster carers. During the discussion, members reiterated their request for further information about the quality of semi-independent provision.

 

With the permission of the Chair, Councillor McLennan queried whether Hammersmith and Fulham Council would be joining the work to develop joint recruitment and commissioning activity.

 

Onder Beter confirmed that officers were reviewing the learning and development offer for foster carers and were taking in to consideration the views shared by carers, including those regarding availability.  Members were further informed that it was likely that it would take at least six months to see an impact of increased recruitment activity, but the placement of children with in-house foster carers would still be dependent on the profile and needs of Brent’s LAC population. Nigel Chapman (Operational Director Integration and Improved Outcomes) confirmed that a report would be submitted to a future meeting of the committee on Semi-Independent Accommodation. It was highlighted that a multiagency audit of this provision had recently been undertaken via a work stream of the Brent Children’s Trust and the update to the committee would include the findings from this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

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.