Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 22nd June, 2020 1.30 pm

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Helen Davies  Tel: 01270 685705 Email:  helen.davies@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Link: Meeting Recording

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence received.

 

2.

Minutes of Previous meeting pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 24th February 2020.

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 24 February 2020.

RESOLVED:

That the minutes be approved as a correct record and signed by the chairman.

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any disclosable pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests in any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

4.

Whipping Declarations

To provide an opportunity for Members to declare the existence of a party whip in relation to any item on the agenda

Minutes:

There were no whipping declarations.

 

5.

Public Speaking/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.

 

Members of the public wishing to make a statement should provide notice in writing at least three clear working days before the meeting takes place.

Minutes:

There were no members of the public present wishing to speaking.

 

6.

Responding to Covid-19

To receive an update to cover the response by Cheshire East to the global pandemic including: education, child protection, children missing from home and children not accessing full time education plus as update on young people’s mental health needs and the current offer.

Minutes:

Mark Palethorpe, Executive Director of People introduced the item to the Committee, he set the context for the report and overview which included the lockdown period, the lead up to it and the move to recovery.

Mark thanked officers, partners, and elected members for all the support given towards children and families across the borough throughout the lockdown period.  In terms of day to day business, the service had taken a significant shift but that essential services had continued and offered support to the most vulnerable children in the borough to remain safe.  Vulnerable children had been supported to attend school and family care had been delivered differently this included meetings and contacts remotely.

The Committee heard that care leavers are one of the most vulnerable groups and that lockdown will have had an impact on cases of hidden harm which will have a future impact on those children and young people.

Midwifery services had been provided through children services, although several early year settings had been closed and staff had been furloughed.

The Committee were advised that the legacy of the pandemic was an increased demand for services (particularly mental health), capacity and costs for next year.  It was acknowledged that the pandemic had caused a challenge in terms of dedication of staff both capacity and emotionally.

The Committee were invited to ask questions, and a number of comments were noted:

  • Support for foster carers had been provided for those who had incurred additional costs via virtual school £185k had been projected until November 2020;
  • Children who were on a child protection plan, received visits during the lockdown period.  Virtual visits had commenced when the visit had been risk assessed and deemed safe.  The goal was the return of physical visits for all children with staff safety;
  • Older young people had enjoyed virtual meetings and built stronger connection with more frequent meetings.  Agencies e.g. schools had done the same thing with vulnerable young people;
  • More frequent virtual meetings are being scheduled for children with disabilities as it might not be safe to arrange a physical meeting with this cohort yet;
  • The Committee acknowledged how useful briefings had been throughout the lockdown period, and also that not all residents and vulnerable families had good connectivity to internet and in these instances telephone might be the only option;
  • Visiting with children and families had varied considerably, from a telephone conversation to the video on screen, and be able to see inside the home, to doorstop visits and can talk in the garden, socially distanced walks, although high risk cases retained the need for the visit to go ahead as it would normally.  Every child had been risk assessed and kept under review;
  • Some Early Help cases had escalated into social care when risk could not be managed safely;
  • 739 devices (laptops, 4G dongles for internet access) had been dispatched to vulnerable families;
  • Short break carers had stopped and the authority, had to become creative by looking at short break providers to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 184 KB

To give consideration to the areas of the forward plan which fall within the remit of the Committee.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Forward Plan.  There were three items that related to this Committee.  The proposed expansion of Wilmslow High School, and the Regional Adoption Agency Integrated Services Agreement for consideration by Cabinet in September.  The support for Syrian Vulnerable person resettlement programme and unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking children and Asylum Seekers dispersal programme was expected to go later as September was not an appropriate timing as no travel was permitted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

RESOLVED:

That the Forward Plan be received and noted.

 

8.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To give consideration to the work programme

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Visiting Member, Councillor Rachel Bailey advised the Committee that funding had been announced from central government to help young people catch up on lost time through the pandemic.  There had been a varied response from schools for various reasons.  Councillor Bailey requested that the Committee consider an overview that related to pupil performance and performance of schools, and how the Local Authority looked at the skill set of those leaving school on the cusp of high school.

The Committee were advised that an additional meeting in August would be necessary to ensure the appropriate level of scrutiny was given to the items on the Work Programme.

RESOLVED:

That:

a)    Helen Davies add an item to the Committee’s Work Programme to scrutinise the lost time for young people leaving high school and on the cusp of high school.

b)    Helen Davies advise the Committee of the scheduled date for the August meeting.

c)    Children and Family and Corporate Scrutiny Officers to liaise re: Covid-Coding finance.