Agenda and minutes

Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 28th September, 2020 1.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Joel Hammond-Gant  Tel: 01270 686468 Email:  joel.hammond-gant@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Link: Meeting recording

Items
No. Item

21.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

22.

Minutes of Previous meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 5 August 2020.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED –

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 August 2020, be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

23.

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:

No declarations of interest were received.

24.

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:

No declarations of a party whip were made.

25.

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:

Councillor A Critchley spoke to the committee about the nature of Ofsted inspections – which are usually completed through three separate types of inspections – and whether the new, single inspection arrangement put in place following the Covid-19 outbreak, could be continued hereafter instead of returning to the more resource-intensive, three inspection arrangements.

 

Councillor A Critchley also talked to the committee about how schools had been managing Covid-related staff shortages, following a communication he had received about a school in his local ward regarding a shortage of catering staff and the responsive measures they had put in to manage this. He queried whether this was a local issue that had been resolved, or if it was indicative of a problem being experienced by schools across the borough.

 

The Chairman then spoke about Covid-19 and the impacts that it had had on school attendance across the borough. requested officers provide clarity on attendance at Cheshire East schools and how the overall levels had been impacted by Covid-19. Members raised other queries such as how infection rates in Cheshire East compared to other regions, and how Cheshire East schools had interpreted government guidance about what parents/carers should do at school drop-off and pick-up times.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1          Officers provided assurance that Cheshire East had not experienced a significant, widespread shortage of school catering staff, and that this particular instance was specific to the local school.

 

2          Members thanked Councillor A Critchley for attending the meeting and making his statements.

 

3          That the update on Covid-19 be received and noted.

 

4          That officers be asked to provide a written answer in response to members’ query regarding how Cheshire East schools had interpreted government guidance.

 

26.

Child or Young Person's Story

To receive a verbal update of an anonymised child or young person’s story.

Minutes:

A case study was outlined to the committee about a young person who had recently moved back into a local Cheshire East children’s home, after a lengthy adoption process that only saw him be officially adopted at age 11. After being brought into Cheshire East care at 13, this young person had been supported to deal with the complexities of their upbringing. They were now due to start at a local college in September 2020.

 

Members discussed the issue of adoption breakdown and its common causes, and noted that the cause of such a breakdown is not always related to the child, but can stem from other types of abuse or negative behaviour from the adoptive families.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the young person’s story be noted.

 

27.

Spotlight Review on Children's Mental Health Services pdf icon PDF 111 KB

To agree the report of the committee’s spotlight review on Children’s Mental Health Services, undertaken on 24 February 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman presented to the committee the proposed final report of the committee’s spotlight review on Children’s Mental Health Services, undertaken on 24 February 2020.

 

Members discussed the pertinence of such a report in the current climate of Covid-19 and the reported impacts that lockdowns and restrictions have had on children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

 

Officers from the council and Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (the main provider of young people’s mental health services in Cheshire East) attended this item and talked about how the two organisations, amongst other partners, had worked to ensure that there was additional funding and support available to meet these needs.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1          That the report be agreed, endorsed and passed on to Cabinet to consider and respond to its conclusions and recommendations.

 

2          That officers be asked to provide a focused update to the committee at its next meeting on 23 November, 2020 on the mental health and wellbeing impacts caused by Covid-19, and the work undertaken by the council and partners to ensure the right support was available.

 

28.

Update on Kickstart and Apprenticeships

To receive a verbal update.

Minutes:

The committee considered a verbal update on the Kickstart scheme – launched on 18 September, 2020 – which aimed to get 16-24 year old NEETs (people not in education, employment or training) into robust, effective work placements.

 

Members asked questions and put comments in relation to:

 

·         how many kickstart placements the council would be able to offer across its service areas, and

·         the particular challenge faced by cared-for children seeking to gain these placements and/or employment, and the how the council was specifically supporting these children.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the update be noted.

 

29.

Update on Ofsted Inspections pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To consider a report on the interim arrangements for Inspections of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) and Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) Inspections following a pause in inspections due to Covid-19.

 

 

Minutes:

The committee considered an update on the interim arrangements for inspections of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) and Special Educational Needs and/or Disabilities (SEND) Inspections, following a pause to inspections due to Covid-19.

 

Members queried how the forthcoming ILACS inspections would take into account the impacts of Covid-19 and how this took certain things out of the council’s control, for example, the availability of the local police service.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the update be noted.

30.

Vision for Children's Services pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To receive an update on the future development work for Children’s Services.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered a report that outlined the council’s overarching vision for what it wants to achieve for children and young people in Cheshire East, which would be used to ensure that there was a shared aim and clear expectation that all work should be done together with children, young people and families.

 

Members asked questions and put comments in relation to;

 

·         whether this was a realistic ambition in light of the current and future impacts that will be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic;

·         if any adjustments had been planned for; and

·         that more referrals would have been expected.

 

The committee was advised about the Comprehensive Spending Review by Directors of Children’s Services, which had set out in detail the general challenges and financial challenges faced by children’s services.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1          That the Vision for Children and Young People in Cheshire East be endorsed and adopted.

 

2          That the Comprehensive Spending Review by Directors of Children’s Services be circulated to committee members outside of the meeting.

 

31.

Progress Against Ofsted Recommendations pdf icon PDF 756 KB

To receive an update on progress following the Ofsted Standard Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services (ILACS) undertaken in November 2019.

Minutes:

The committee considered an update on progress the council had made against the recommendations put by Ofsted following its standard Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services in November 2019.

 

Members asked questions in relation to;

 

·         the employment of quality social care workers and whether the council was able to appoint people from a student level and support them in their training;

·         how many Cheshire East cared-for children were in out-of-borough placements, and how many of these could potentially be able to return to Cheshire East, subject to the right support systems being put in place; and

·         how many foster carers the council had, and how this compared to other local authority areas.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1          That the update be noted.

 

2          That officers be asked to provide a response in writing to the question regarding the number of cared-for children in out-of-borough placements.

 

32.

Update on SEND pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To consider two updates in respect of SEND:

 

(1)  An update on progress made against the recommendations put to Cabinet in the SEND Reforms Task and Finish Group report, and

 

(2)  A progress update following agreement of the Written Statement of Action, in preparation for the SEND revisit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered an update on the progress the council has made against the recommendations put to Cabinet in the SEND Reforms Task and Finish Group report (date), and an update following agreement of the Written Statement of Action.

 

Members sought assurances that, after an issue was identified regarding the capacity of people working in the team, additional funding would remain ongoing so that jobs/roles do not get cut and the important support services remain in place for those that need them.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the update be noted.

 

Councillor A Moran took the position of Vice-Chairman in the Chair, whilst the Chairman resolved connectivity issues.

 

33.

Performance Scorecard - Quarter 1, 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Minutes:

Members considered the performance data from the council’s Children’s Services directorate for the period of Quarter 1, 2020/21.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the report and update be noted.

 

 

Councillor J Saunders resumed the Chair.

 

34.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 198 KB

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

Minutes:

The committee reviewed the council’s Forward Plan of key decisions.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the Forward Plan be noted.

 

35.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To give consideration to the work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee reviewed its work programme and discussed how best to programme its business into the remaining three meetings of the year.

 

RESOLVED –

 

That the following updates be made to the work programme;

 

  • a Covid-19 update be added as a standing item to be received at the top of forthcoming meeting agendas;
  • a follow-up update on progress made against the recommendations in the spotlight review on Children’s Mental Health Services be added to the agenda for March 2021; and
  • a further review of the Kickstart scheme be brought for consideration by the committee in January 2021.