Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Irene Bowles; 020 8583 2075; Email: irene.bowles@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Decision:

Apologies had been received from Councillor Paul Lynch, Alan Adams, Jacqui McShannon and Gavin Carey.

 

Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Candice Atterton.

Minutes:

Apologies had been received from Councillor Paul Lynch, Alan Adams, Jacqui McShannon and Gavin Carey.

 

Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Candice Atterton.                                                                                         

2.

Minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2016 and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 231 KB

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 March are attached.  However, the minute taker was taken ill shortly after the meeting, and her notes have been transcribed by a colleague.  Members are asked to carefully review the minutes, and, if necessary, defer the approval of the minutes to the next meeting.

Decision:

The approval of the minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2016 was deferred to the next meeting.

Minutes:

The approval of the minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2016 was deferred to the next meeting, to allow the young people to make their comments.

3.

Items from Young People

Decision:

a)    Provision of Gym Passes

Members were advised that funding for Gym passes (£10K in 2014/15) had not continued for 2015/16.  It was agreed that Councillor Bruce would discuss this with Ms Fitz-Patrick, and report back to the next meeting.

 

 

b)   Change in Housing support

The young people were disappointed that they had not been involved in the Life Project – the re-commissioning of specialist housing provision (previously called “Supporting People”).

 

 

c)    Improving Communications –Skype

Ann Fitz-Patrick clarified that the “members” referred to in the minutes were members of the Children in Care Council, not Councillors.

Minutes:

a)    Provision of Gym Passes

Members were advised that funding for Gym passes (£10K in 2014/15) had not continued for 2015/16.  Some passes had cost almost £300, so the funding only covered a small number of passes.  Some young people who lived out-of-borough could not access them.  There was also doubt about whether usage of passes gave value for money.  It was suggested that Carers could provide this information, as they knew the routing of their young people.

 

Councillor Bruce accepted that young people wanted this facility to continue, but acknowledged that it had to be limited to those who would regularly use it.  The young people reminded Members that the provision of gym passes was not only beneficial for good health, but encouraged them to relax and enjoy the social mix as well. It was agreed that Councillor Bruce would discuss this with Ms Fitz-Patrick, and report back to the next meeting.

 

[Nora Morris (Foster Carer) and Councillor Candice Atterton arrived]

 

b)   Change in Housing support

The young people were disappointed that they had not been involved in the Life Project – the re-commissioning of specialist housing provision (previously called “Supporting People”). Members were concerned that there should be a smooth transition between providers.  Anne Fitz-Patrick and Stephen Hutchinson agreed to liaise with Martin Waddington (Director - Joint Commissioning, Children and Adult Services), who was responsible for this area.

 

c)    Improving Communications –Skype

Ann Fitz-Patrick clarified that the “members” referred to in the minutes were members of the Children in Care Council, not Councillors.  Councillor Bruce confirmed that the principle was to ensure feedback is obtained from young people, particularly those who may be long distances from Hounslow.  It was agreed to try to have a least one of these conference call meetings before the Corporate Parenting Panel’s next meeting.

4.

Independent Chair's Fostering Panel Annual Report 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 357 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members were introduced to Bob Spencer (Head of Placements and Looked After Children’s Resources) and Elaine Peers.

 

Mr Spencer highlighted the following points in the Fostering Panel report:

 

a)    Item 3 – Overview of Panel Activity

The breakdown of workload had been reviewed.

 

b)   Item 4 – Terminations

Members noted the reasons for Foster Carers leaving the service.  This included 2 carers who had moved to another Agency; this was for a variety of reason, including the offer of a better package.

 

Two carers had been de-registered, following recommendations from Social Workers.  The decisions had been challenged, with an Independent Review Panel upholding the decisions.

 

c)    Changes to structure

Members noted that the Fostering and Adoption panels were to be merged; special guardianship orders did not have to go to the Panel for approval.  Anne Fitz-Patrick and Stephen Hutchinson had interviewed and appointed an experienced Joint Chair for the new Panel.  A meeting of the Adoption Panel would take place on 5 July 2016 for agree the formal winding up of the Panel and to confirm the new arrangements.

 

d)   Item 8 – Recommendations

The Panel would endeavour to address all the recommendations in the Report.

 

Members noted the contents and recommendations in the Annual Report on Hounslow Children’s Services’ Fostering Panel for 2015/16 (attached to Item 4 of the Agenda Pack).

 

Questions from Members:

1.    How many children are waiting for adoption?  There are likely to be 10 this year; there were 22 last year, which was high, in order to clear the backlog.  Members were pleased to note that the process is becoming more efficient, with children approved to be adopted being placed more quickly.

2.    Who agreed that the Fostering and Adoption Panels should be amalgamated?  Jacqui McShannon and Alan Adams.

3.    How many children are with foster carers awaiting adoption? About five; the numbers are always very small – generally those waiting are sibling groups or children with Special Educational Needs.

 

The Chair confirmed that he was essentially in principal happy with the merger of the adoption and fostering panels, but had thought that the proposal would have come through the Corporate Parenting Panel; the Elected Council Members and Young People should have had the opportunity to have input in the decision making process; there needed to be accountability.

Members discussed the reasons for Foster Carers leaving the Council and going to other Agencies, and asked what happened to young people in their care at that time.  They were advised that, although the young people should stay with the Carer, they will always “belong” to Hounslow.

 

Although some Carers had left (most for very positive reasons), new potential Carers were being processed, and it was hoped that numbers would balance out by the end of the year.  The situation was similar to other London boroughs.  The average turnaround was 4-5 months, but full vetting had to take place; the process is set down in regulations.

 

Members learned that there were 13 young people in residential home  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Children's Services Complaints Annual Report 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Anne Fitz-Patrick presented the Report to Members on behalf of Sue Moppett, Customer Relations Manager.  She reminded Members that this report related only to Looked After Children and Care Leavers.

 

It was noted that the system was easy to access and simple to use for young people.  In terms of young people making complaints, 18+ year olds made the highest number; under 10 year olds were under-represented.  The reason for this was being investigated.

 

Members noted that there was no detail in the report as to the subject and issues for complaints; they were advised that “resolved” meant “resolved to the satisfaction of the person making the complaint”.  Members acknowledged that Children’s Services did a fantastic job, but they had no way of testing the complaint detail against the resolution – or whether the complaint was not substantiated, or was substantiated and resolution sought.

 

Ms Fitz-Patrick explained that complaints were very rarely about a single issue, but were usually multi-faceted.  Some complaints would be upheld; others would be rejected.  Councillor Bruce asked for a breakdown of the complaints, as some would have resulted from poor policies in place.

 

The Young People asked why, if there were a low number of complaints, it took between 20-25 days to resolve them.  Ms Fitz-Patrick advised that it was dependent on the issues raised: the Complaints Team take time to gather all the information….it can be quicker than 20 days.

 

Mr Spencer agreed that the Service needs to look at its avenues of communication to ensure that they are effective. 

6.

Performance Report 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 261 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Elaine Peers, Performance Manager, led Members through her report, highlighting the following:

a)    The report gives a snapshot as at 31 March 2016

b)    It compares performance in 2014/15 with regional neighbours and national statistics

c)    Section 2 gives a sense of the numbers and percentages compared to the general population.

d)    Healthcare and Development Assessments were good compared to London and England (although the dental check figure was lower, it still showed improvement).

e)    There had been a good response to the emotional and behavioural health questionnaires.

f)     Placing Care leavers in education, employment or training was particularly challenging – it was expected that Hounslow would be below the national average in this area when statistics were collated and published.

g)    There was a significant drop in the number of children missing from care: from 79 to 54; the number of episodes dropped from 767 to 346.

h)   There was a specific issue relating to the number of incidents and young people considered to be at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation.  More information was being considered and feedback sought.

i)     Members discussed the numbers of male unaccompanied asylum seeker children.

j)      Members noted that the post-18 Looked After Children had poor attainment, and asked what measures were in place to resolve this.  Councillor Bruce confirmed that this would be in the next report. 

k)    There was more stability, with longer term placements.  Late entrants into care often presented more problems, and were often not in a good psychological place to learn effectively.  Many unaccompanied minors also had English as an additional language.

l)     The young people advised Members that there were mentors and ESOL teachers, who provided extra classes for Looked After Children.

m)  Members recognised that a lot of work was taking place to support Young People in care, but there was less provision for further education for 18+.

n)   Members recognised that Children in Care had one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy compared to other groups in the Borough.

7.

Annual CPP Report 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 273 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Members noted that this report was a celebration of the work carried out by the Panel in the last year.

 

The young people voiced their disappointment that no residential trips had been scheduled for the coming summer.  Councillors asked officers for reasons, as they had understood that residential trips would happen.  They were advised that there were two issues:

a)    Staff had not been available

b)    Funding restraints had led to a programme being planned that could be accessed by a larger number of young people, but that would not include residential trips.

 

Councillors recognised that the residential trips had been very successful in the past, and agreed to review the programme for the next financial year.

Minutes:

Members noted that this report was a celebration of the work carried out by the Panel in the last year, and thanked Donal Fernandes (Planning and Performance Officer) for his input.

 

Young people had been involved in the work of the Panel, but sometimes felt that, although issues were recognised, there was not enough action into how to improve those issues.

 

Members were very happy to agree the recommendations in the report, ie:

 

1.    That a Corporate Parenting Panel Forward Plan be established.  This would contain future items for consideration by the Panel, and would record dates when updates on specific items would be given.

2.    That an “Updates” standing Agenda item be established, to enable the Panel to receive updates (either verbal or written) on those issues identified in the Forward Plan.

 

The young people voiced their disappointment that no residential trips had been scheduled for the coming summer.  Councillors asked officers for reasons, as they had understood that residential trips would happen.  They were advised that there were two issues:

a)    Staff had not been available

b)    Funding restraints had led to a programme being planned that could be accessed by a larger number of young people, but that would not include residential trips.

 

Councillors recognised that the residential trips had been very successful in the past, and agreed to review the programme for the next financial year.

 

[Elaine Peers left the meeting at 7.30pm]

 

8.

CPP Governance Update

Jacquie McShannon and Anne FitzPatrick

Decision:

It was noted that a report had been written on the governance of the Corporate Parenting Panel.  This would be reviewed by Councillor Bruce and either forwarded to Cabinet for decision, or published as a Single Member Decision.

Minutes:

It was noted that a report had been written on the governance of the Corporate Parenting Panel.  This would be reviewed by Councillor Bruce and either forwarded to Cabinet for decision, or published as a Single Member Decision.

9.

Westbrook Inspection update

Bob Spencer

Decision:

Members noted that the follow-up OfSTED inspection had been positive; all recommendations had been implemented.

 

Bob Spencer agreed to circulate the report to Members prior to the next meeting.

Minutes:

Members noted that the follow-up OfSTED inspection had been positive; all recommendations had been implemented.  The appointment of an Acting Manager had given a settled outlook.

 

Bob Spencer agreed to circulate the report to Members prior to the next meeting.

10.

Any Other Business

Decision:

a)    Date and venue of next meeting

The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 10 October 2016, and would be held at the Youth Centre, Kingsley Road, Hounslow, TW3 1NX.

 

b)   Corporate Parent Training for all Councillors

It was agreed to hold a training session for all Councillors in September 2016, which would include young people from the Children In Care Council.

 

The meeting closed at 7.40pm.

Minutes:

a)    Date and venue of next meeting

The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 10 October 2016, at 5pm, and would be held at the Youth Centre, Kingsley Road, Hounslow, TW3 1NX.

 

b)   Corporate Parent Training for all Councillors

It was agreed to hold a training session for all Councillors in September 2016, which would include young people from the Children In Care Council.