Venue: County Hall, Chichester
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Declarations of Interests
Members and officers must declare any pecuniary or personalinterest in any business on the agenda. They should also make declarations at any stage such an interest becomes apparent during the meeting. Consideration should be given to leaving the meeting if the nature of the interest warrants it. If in doubt please contact Democratic Services before the meeting.
10.1 The following personal interests were declared:
· Mr High declared an interest in item 5 (Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Social Care: Implications for Scrutiny) as a member of his family has an Education and Health Care Plan (EHCP).
· Mrs Flynn declared an interest in item 5 (Ofsted Inspection of Children’s Social Care: Implications for Scrutiny) as a member of her family has Special Educational Needs (SEN), and as a governor at Ingfield Manor School.
The Committee is asked to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 15 May 2019 (cream paper).
11.1 Resolved that the minutes of the last meeting held on 15 May 2019 be approved as a correct record and that they be signed by the Chairman.
Extract fromthe ForwardPlan dated 3 June 2019.
Anextract fromanyForwardPlan publishedbetween the date of despatchof the agenda and the date of the meetingwill be tabled at the meeting.
The Committee is asked to consider whetheritwishes to enquireinto any of the forthcoming decisions withinits portfolio.
12.1 The Committee considered a tabled paper which was a new version of the Forward Plan dated 17 June 2019 (copy appended to the signed minutes). This version of the Forward Plan was not included in the Committee papers as it had been published following the statutory despatch of the agenda.
12.2 John Readman, Director of Children’s Services, advised the Adoption of an Improvement Plan for Children’s Services decision would now be taken in July, instead of June.
12.3 Resolved – that the Committee notes the Forward Plan.
Ofsted Inspection of Children's Social Care: Implications for Scrutiny
The Committee is asked to reflect upon the findings of the Ofsted Inspection that “oversight, scrutiny and challenge from corporate leaders, including the children’s select committee and the corporate parenting panel, have not been sufficiently rigorous” and to identify any specific changes required to ensure a more robust approach to the scrutiny of Children’s Social Care going forward.
13.1 The Chairman invited the Committee to reflect upon the Ofsted findings that scrutiny had not been sufficiently rigorous, and to identify any specific changes required to address this going forward. The following points were raised by members in discussion:
· The Committee had been quite focussed on decision points and data, and had not been so open-minded about occurrences in the service more broadly. Members proposed it would be useful to undertake visits to operational sites, such as IPEH hubs, to enable a more ‘on the ground’ source of information.
· Members noted that Education had a number of co-opted representatives on the Committee, and considered the absence of a perspective from Children’s Social Care. Members considered a practitioner representative would bring a valuable voice to the Committee, and assist in understanding the issues identified by Ofsted more clearly.
· Members suggested the BPG should plan the scrutiny timetable for the next couple of years to provide a clear programme of topics.
· The Committee heard that the Children in Care Council (CiCC) issue a periodical newsletter and suggested they could be added to the distribution list.
· The Chairman advised he felt there would be value in talking to social workers and practitioners in order to understand their experiences and identify successes and failures in the service.
· The Chairman of the Corporate Parenting Panel (CPP) advised she was aiming to involve children, carers and various agencies and partners in the panel meetings. The Committee noted there were 2 members who sat on both the CYPSSC and CPP.
· The Leader reflected on a visit to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) with the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People. The MASH was operating well, and it gave the Leader and Cabinet Member the opportunity to see what good looked like. The Leader added that members should visit other service areas, that staff welcome the recognition and a forum to listen and be heard.
· Members agreed and considered they all had an individual responsibility to engage with the service. It was suggested visits to local Children and Family Centres were useful to understand the interaction between different agencies. Observing foster or adoption panels was also considered as a value forum to gain further insight into the service.
· The Chairman of the CPP urged members to consider how they approach schools about CLA, including asking them if they had CLA, and how were they getting on. The Director of Children’s Services agreed, and suggested members take opportunities to exercise their role as corporate parents when meeting chairs of governors and heads. The Chairman of the CPP encouraged members to feedback from these discussions in order to close the loop.
· The Chairman advised the member day would be a prime opportunity to stress the corporate parenting responsibility to members, encouraging them to ask questions and strive for good outcomes as advocates for children.
· Members of the Committee advised they needed to know when things were going wrong, and felt that loops could be closed by ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Report by the Executive Director of People, Director of Children and Services, and Director of Law and Assurance.
The County Council’s Children’s Services were the subject of an inspection by Ofsted in late February/early March 2019. The report detailing the inspection outcome was published on 8 May 2019 with the inspectors finding the overall effectiveness of Children’s Services to be ‘inadequate’.
In response, an Improvement Plan is being developed to address the findings of the report and set out how the County Council will implement the necessary measures to deliver improvement within Children’s Services.
The Committee is asked to note the process for the production and delivery of the Children First Practice Improvement Plan, the progress to date and the further actions in hand, and to consider how it proposes to discharge its scrutiny function in relation to the delivery of the Plan.
14.1 The Committee considered a report by the Director of Children Services and the Director of Law and Assurance. The report was introduced by John Readman, Director of Children Services, who also took the Committee through a presentation (copy appended to the signed minutes). The Committee heard the following key points:
· A commissioner had now been appointed for WSCC; John Coughlan, Chief Executive of Hampshire County Council. A set up meeting had taken place which had been very useful. Hampshire Children’s Social Care had recently been awarded an Outstanding Ofsted rating. The practical support from Hampshire County Council was funded by the Department for Education (DfE).
· The commissioner would undertake a three month review of Children’s Social Care, then a formal report would be submitted to the DfE at the end of September. WSCC would work with the commissioner to develop and undertake improvement, including working with the Improvement Board, the CYPSSC and CPP.
· There was a fundamental determination and commitment to improve the service through three concurrent streams:
Ø Looking at areas of most risk and making early progress
Ø Supporting and stabilising the workforce
Ø The development of the Improvement Plan.
14.2 Sarah Daly, Head of Children’s Social Care provided an update on progress to date. Key points included the following:
· To improve management oversight, supervision training had started to take place in order to build practitioner confidence and embed a good working practice.
· Live time trackers for individual children had been developed.
· Social workers for pre-birth work were now embedded in their work, visiting and reviewing cases, ensuring there were plans in place by week 32 gestation. A consistent monitoring approach had been taken to ensure a wrap-around care plan.
· The West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Board (WSSCB) had been working in partnership with Children’s Social Care to strengthen the focus on neglect. Neglect cases were being audited, and learning was coming out of this.
· Practice improvement had been underway in areas of high risk adolescents, return home interviews, child exploitation, foster to adopt and assessment and intervention.
14.3 The Director of Children’s Services provided the following update on workforce:
· Vacancies were being filled in a timely and efficient way, and the vacancy gap was reducing.
· The aim was to develop the best environment to encourage best practice, with postive learning and development opportunities.
· The recruitment and retention campaign was yielding good results, with the lowest vacancy rate in a significant period of time.
· Morale in the service had improved, which was critical when bringing new staff in.
· 7 apprenticeships were in train, and the AYSE was proving a successful academy programme. In September 2019 an additional 43 full time equivalent posts would join the workforce.
· Around 12% of the workforce was covered by agency staff who would remain with WSCC until they were no longer needed.
· There were 24 leavers in the pipeline citing reasons of relocation as opposed to high caseloads or poor management oversight.
· The retention programme had an 82% take up to date.
· Human ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
Report by the Independent Chair of the West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Board (WSSCB).
Following legislative reform, a new local safeguarding arrangement for West Sussex will replace the existing WSSCB. This partnership will be driven by 3 partners; health, police and the local authority, with West Sussex County Council (WSCC) no longer being the lead safeguarding agency. This bespoke local arrangement will respond to local need which collectively engages with children, young people and their families.
The Committee is asked to note the changes to multi-agency arrangements to safeguard children in local authority areas, and to comment on whether further scrutiny of the new arrangements is required.
15.1 The Committee considered a report by the Independent Chair of the West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Board (WSSCB). The report was introduced by Jon Brydon, Head of Safeguarding, who highlighted the following key points:
· The Head of Safeguarding was working with the Independent Chair of the WSSCB and colleagues in police and health to implement a change in national policy which replaces the current operating model of the safeguarding board.
· In 2016, a review was undertaken which highlighted the inefficiencies of the current model, recommending that it was refreshed.
· The new Local Safeguarding Partnership (LSCP) will replace the WSCCB as a stronger statutory partnership between the local authority, the police and health on an equal footing.
· The key changes involve the cessation of the Child Death Overview Panel will be delivered by a Pan Sussex steering group. Serious Case Reviews would be included in a new National Review Panel.
· The WSSCB was currently independently chaired. In the new LSCP arrangement, the Chairman will take an active scrutiny role.
· The priorities for the LSCP would be known after the August meeting of the new partnership. This would form the focus of work for the next 3 years.
15.2 The Committee considered the following points in discussion:
· Members welcomed the new arrangement and understood the rationale in bringing together key partners.
· Members considered the shared accountability, and how the new partnership would be delivered in practical terms. The Director of Children’s Services advised the new government legislation assured the effective scrutiny of practice and standards. As an assurance body, the LSCP would hold WSCC, the police, health and voluntary sector colleagues to account.
· The Vice-Chairman considered the risk management implications and asked how the Chairman of the LSCP would be appraised. The Director of Children’s Services advised national guidance did not determine an appraisal system, however the Chairman would meet the Chief Executive of WSCC on a monthly basis. The Director of Children’s Services added that the Chairman of the LSCP was also a member of the Improvement Board.
15.3 Resolved that the Committee:
1. Notes the changes to multi-agency arrangements to safeguard children in local authority areas.
2. Requests that further information on the new priorities for the LSCP brought to an appropriate meeting of the Committee after 6 August 2019.
Business Planning Group Appointments
The Committee is asked to appoint five members to the Business Planning Group (BPG), including the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee, one other conservative member, and two minority members.
The previous members of the BPG were Mr Cloake (Chairman), Mr High (Vice-Chairman), Mrs Mullins, Mrs Hall and Ms Lord. Mrs Mullins is no longer on the Committee.
16.1 Resolved - that the Committee agreed the membership of the Business Planning Group would comprise Mr High (Chairman), Mrs Russell (Vice-Chairman), Mrs Hall, Ms Sudan and Ms Lord.
Requests for Call-In
The Children and Young People’s Services Business Planning Group (BPG) received a request to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People concerning the Relinquishment of the Beechfield Secure Unit (CYP01 (19/20)– decision published on 22 May 2019. The BPG declined the request.
17.1 The Children and Young People’s Services Select Committee Business Planning Group (BPG) received a request to call-in the proposed decision by the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People concerning the Relinquishment of the Beechfield Secure Unit (CYP01 19/20) – decision published on 22 May 2019. The BPG declined the request.
Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Committee will be held on 11 September 2019 at 10.30 am at County Hall, Chichester.
Any member wishing to place an item on the agenda for the meeting must notify the Director of Law and Assurance by 30 August 2019.
18.1 The Committee noted that the next scheduled meeting will be held on 17 July 2019 at 14.00pm at County Hall, Chichester. This was an additional scheduled meeting in agreement with the Chairman so that the Committee may consider the Children First Practice Improvement Plan.