Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 26th July, 2011 1.30 pm

Venue: Committee Suite 1,2 & 3, Westfields, Middlewich Road, Sandbach CW11 1HZ. View directions

Contact: Mark Grimshaw  Scrutiny Officer

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2011.


Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2011 be approved as a correct record.



Declaration of Interest/Party Whip

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any personal and/or prejudicial interests and for members to declare the existence of a party whip in relation to any item on the agenda.




None noted.


Public Speaking Time/Open Session

A total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to make a statement(s) on any matter that falls within the remit of the Committee.


Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers.


Note:  In order for officers to undertake any background research, it would be helpful if members of the public notified the Scrutiny officer listed at the foot of the agenda, at least one working day before the meeting with brief details of the matter to be covered.




There were no members of the Public who wished to address the Committee.


Annual Announced Inspection

To receive a verbal update from the Director of Children’s Services.


Lorraine Butcher, Director of Children’s Services, attended to provide an oral brief on the outcomes of the Announced Inspection of the Contact, Referral and Assessment arrangements. In providing some key headlines, it was reported that the service had received positive feedback in a number of areas, outlined as follows:


·         Quality of case work

·         Partnership working

·         Significant improvement in educational outcomes for Cared for Children


Ofsted were particularly impressed at the progress that had been made considering the level that services were at when inherited from Cheshire County Council. Lorraine Butcher noted that Cheshire East had not been rated as ‘good’ due to the fact that an authority needed to show improvement for more than two years to be rated as such; something which was impossible for the newly formed authority. Despite this, the service was confident that a solid base line had been set for further improvements to be made. These were outlined as follows:


·         Improving safe care assessments

·         The extent to which children and their family’s views were taken into account when shaping services.

·         Equality and Diversity issues

·         Increased availability of care placements in the local area.


The full report would be published on 12 August 2011 and it was suggested that a formal report could be brought to the Committee on 20 September 2011 outlining the findings and subsequent action plan.


RESOLVED – That the Director of Children’s Services be requested to submit a report at the next meeting of the Committee outlining the findings of the Announced Inspection and the resulting action plan.


Children & Families Performance Report pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To consider the report of the Quality Assurance Manager.

Additional documents:


Mark Bayley, Quality Assurance Manager, attended to the present the year end 2010/11 performance report for the Children and Families Service.


Mark Bayley explained how the previous year had seen a number of changes in the performance reporting landscape, and how the service had had to deal with substantial changes to the National Indicator set in which decisions were made about which measures to keep and those to discard. He reported that a number of new indicator demands had been placed on the service, most of which were difficult to quantify. Lorraine Butcher asserted that the challenge for the service was to move away from a target driven culture to create performance measures that were meaningful and designed to improve life for Cheshire East’s children and young people. It was reported that a newly developed scorecard would help in achieving this.


Mark Bayley concluded by saying that it was the aim of the directorate, in terms of performance, to be able to link performance management with changing practice and delivery so that it became a powerful driver of improvement.


A number of comments were made with regards to the difficulty of interpreting the information provided on a number of measures. For instance, it was described how some measures had a ‘red’ rating yet it appeared that the target had been met. Similarly, it was noted that it would useful if there was more meaning behind the ‘RAG’ allocation and if benchmarking information against other authorities was provided. Lorraine Butcher agreed that this information should be provided and the reason why it hadn’t been was that the large number and nature of the indicators had made it difficult to provide more nuanced information. It was confirmed that the slimmed down and more focused performance scorecard in development would provide this information.


It was queried whether there would be any implications of schools becoming Academies on the performance of Cheshire East. It was confirmed that there would be implications as most of the Borough’s stronger schools were now or becoming Academies.




a)    That the Children and Families 2010-11 performance paper be received and noted.


b)    That the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee acknowledged the work which has been undertaken in establishing an effective performance reporting system leading to improved outcomes for children and young people.


c)    That the newly developed performance scorecard be brought to the Committee on a quarterly basis for review.     


Independent Reviewing Officers Report 10/11 - Annual Report pdf icon PDF 61 KB

To consider a report of the Principal Children's Safeguarding Manager.

Additional documents:


Kate Rose, Principal Children’s Safeguarding Manager and Glynis Williams, Safeguarding Manager, attended the meeting to present the Annual Report of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). It was explained that the IRO had become a statutory role following the implementation of the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 in April 2011. This Act set out a number of principles to which the IRO was expected to assess their respective authority against:


a.    Increase scrutiny and oversight of the child’s care plan

b.    Increase participation of children and young people and their families

c.    Securing greater stability for children

d.    Care plans must be able to meet court requirements

e.    Clear processes of assessment, care planning, intervention and review to improve experience and outcomes for cared for children.


The report stated Cheshire East’s level of compliance with these principles and the actions required if the respective targets had not been met.


The Committee queried why the Cared for Children population in Cheshire East was higher than the national average. It was explained that there was a working hypothesis that before structural changes had been made to the Child Assessment teams and referral process, children had been skipping a number of interventions and going straight into care unnecessarily. It was reported that since this system redesign the number of children in care had reduced and this trend was expected to continue.


A concern was expressed with regards to the role of the Children’s and Adults Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in terms of Cared for Children. It was suggested that an item be added to be work programme to review this in more detail.


A number of comments were made regarding the high quality of the report but it was suggested that in future years it would be useful to have a summary page attached to the main report.




a)    That the report be noted.


b)    That the recommendations and priorities set out in the report be supported


c)    That it be agreed that the report be presented to the Corporate Parenting Board


d)    That in subsequent years, a summary page be provided in addition to the main report.


e)    That a review of the CAMHS service in terms of its relationship with Cared For Children be added to the work programme.  



Cheshire East Family Service pdf icon PDF 75 KB

To consider a report of the Head of Service - Early Intervention & Prevention.

Additional documents:


Tony Crane, Head of Service, Early Intervention and Prevention, attended to present a report on the Cheshire East Family Service. He described how the implementation of a new Family Service was a response to a range of initiatives and strategies both from recent internal Task and Finish Reviews and national policies.


With this in mind, he reported that a new flexible operational structure had been developed in order to create a service with a defined function and identity.


Whilst agreeing with the principle, The Committee felt it would be useful to see more detail behind the costs and rationale of the newly developed operational structure. It was suggested that this be circulated to Members. It was also suggested that the policy be revisited in six months in order to review its efficacy.




a)    That the Committee agree to the development of a Cheshire East Family Service and the targeted approach to prevention.


b)    That the costs and rationale of the newly developed operational structure be distributed to Members of the Committee.


c)    That the policy be revisited in six months for review. 


Work Programme update pdf icon PDF 67 KB

To give consideration to the work programme.

Additional documents:


Members considered the work programme. It was suggested that due to its impact on the 2012/13 Business Planning Process, the review of Home to School Transport should be brought forward in order to align with the relevant timescales. It was also asserted that as the issue not only encompassed Children’s policy but also Transport policy it would be appropriate to invite Members of the Environment and Prosperity Scrutiny Committee to be involved. Considering the impact on Scrutiny resources it was suggested that the review of Care Leavers be suspended and reconvened after the Home to School review had reported.




a)    That a Task and Finish Group looking into Home to School Transport be established and that Members of the Environment & Prosperity Committee be invited to participate.


b)    That the Task and Finish Review on Care Leavers be suspended until the final reporting of the Home to School Transport review. 


Forward Plan - extracts pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To note the current Forward Plan, identify any new items and to determine whether any further examination of new issues is appropriate.


The Committee gave consideration to the extracts of the forward plan which fell within the remit of the Committee.


RESOLVED – That the forward plan be noted.


Consultations from Cabinet

To note any consultations referred to the Committee from Cabinet and to determine whether any further action is appropriate.


There were no consultations from Cabinet.