Agenda, decisions and minutes

Children's Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 9th March, 2022 4.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Jill Bell / Kav Amrez 

Items
No. Item

75.

ALTERNATE MEMBERS (Standing Order 34)

The City Solicitor will report the names of alternate Members who are attending the meeting in place of appointed Members.

Minutes:

There were no alternate members.

76.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made for matters under consideration.

77.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Jill Bell – (07970) 413716)

Minutes:

No requests were received to remove the restriction on a report or background paper.

78.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

The following referrals have been made to this Committee up to and including the date of publication of this agenda.

 

The Committee is asked to note the referrals listed above and decide how it wishes to proceed, for example by incorporating the item into the work programme, requesting that it be subject to more detailed examination, or refer it to an appropriate Working Group/Committee.

Minutes:

No referrals were received.

79.

PURCHASE OF ACCOMMODATION AND SUPPORT FOR BRADFORD YOUNG PEOPLE LEAVING CARE AND VULNERABLE YOUNG PEOPLE (16-25 YEARS) pdf icon PDF 328 KB

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services will present a report (Document V) on a procurement exercise to put in place a new framework arrangement for the purchase of accommodation and support for Bradford young people leaving care and vulnerable young people (16-25 years).

 

Recommended – That the contents of Document V be noted.

 

(Mary Ryan – (01274) 432633)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

This Committee requests that the comments raised by members, be considered as part of this procurement exercise.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director of Children’s Services

Minutes:

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services presented a report (Document “V”) on a procurement exercise to put in place a new framework arrangement for the purchase of accommodation and support for Bradford young people leaving care and vulnerable young people (16-25 years).

 

 

The Strategic Commissioning Manager provided a summary on the

purchase of accommodation and support for young people leaving care

in Bradford.

 

The Officer explained that Children’s Services had been undertaking a

procurement exercise to put in place a new framework arrangement for

the purchase of accommodation. The new framework is required as the

current Dynamic Purchasing System requires improvement and was

not specific to Bradford. The new Framework would allow the Service

to guide providers better because it would have more stringent quality

assurance arrangements and high expectations of providers of this

service. The enhanced quality assurance would ensure that

placements meet the individual young person’s needs and that

negative impacts for protected characteristic groups do not arise.

 

Members of the Committee were keen to understand why the large

volume of providers on the existing DPS framework were an issue,

as more providers would increase options.

 

In response the Service Manager advised that the current list of

providers under the existing framework were not regulated but they

would be registered with Ofsted and regulated under the new

framework. Furthermore, managing such a large portfolio of providers

had proven difficult and going forward, even though the number of

providers coming on board will not be restricted, there would be new

stronger specifications and higher expectations.

 

Members wanted to know what the main drive was for the new

Framework and requested more information that would elaborate the

the findings of the study stated in section 3 of the report.

 

The Service Manager explained that the Young People – Child’s Voice

work had been carried out by a care leaver apprentice who had lived

experience of the services. The apprentice had worked with other

young people to create a wish list which helped identify some of the

key changes they wished to see such as consistency in staffing and

location of accommodation. This feedback from the study had driven

the change that was required to ensure that every young person that

was leaving care received the tailored support allowing them to

transition to their own tenancies successfully.

 

Members of the Committee wanted to know if the Service received any

financial support from the Home Office for young people seeking

asylum and the impact of changing frameworks on young people.

 

In response the Service Manager of Placement Coordination informed

that the Service received a small percentage of funding from the Home

Office. The Officer advised there would be no disruption caused to

young people as changes would be happening behind the scenes.

Children would stay on with the provider until the contract came to an

end unless there were concerns with their current provider which

warrants an early termination, they would then swiftly move on to a

provider  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.

80.

EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS - EARLY YEARS TO KEY STAGE 4 pdf icon PDF 257 KB

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services will present a report on the attainment outcomes for the academic year 2020/21 (Document W)

 

Recommended – This report is for information only.

 

(Sue Lowndes – (01274) 432623)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

1.    That a report relating to the impact of Opportunity Funding across the District, be presented to the Committee in the new municipal year.

 

2.    This Committee requests that a report be presented in the new municipal year, which specifically focuses on:

 

-       More up-to-date data;

-       Approaches being used to improve educational attainment across the District.

 

ACTION:  Strategic Director of Children’s Services

 

 

 

ACTION:  Strategic Director of Children’s Services.

Minutes:

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services will present a report on the attainment outcomes for the academic year 2020/21 (Document “W”)

 

 

The Education & Learning Strategic Manager from Children’s Services provided a summary of education standards along with outcomes of examinations and assessments.

 

Members of the Committee were informed that the changes to the way GCSE grades had been awarded over the last two years had resulted in significant changes therefore pupil attainment in 2020/21 would not be comparable to that in 2019/20. The statistics showed that in Bradford girls had performed better than boys however, both girls and boys had not performed as well nationally.

 

Members were keen to understand if there were any particular issues that had been identified.

 

In response the Officer advised that the Service had been working to identify issues relating to the underperformance of children and also looked at how the Local Authority could influence the outcomes.

 

Committee Members wanted to know where the data was collected from as there had not been any SAT exams for the past two years.

 

Members were informed that most secondary schools had carried out initial standardised assessments, the data for which was obtained from the National Data Trust.

 

Addressing Committee Members regarding their questions on early intervention and working with academies, the Education & Learning Strategic Manager advised that the Service carried out early years’ interventions and worked within the communities to identify any concerns. Officers continued to work with children and families struggling with attendance, which had enabled children to attain education and good grades.

 

Committee Members were concerned that children had missed a significant amount of education during the Pandemic which had led to increased pressure on young people. Members wanted to know if measures had been taken to alleviate the pressure from young people.

 

In response to this, the Officer advised that teachers had been made aware of the difficulties faced by young people. Furthermore, help with mental health has been in place and schools have been encouraged to promote mental well-being especially with so many young people struggling with lockdown issues. Schools had been carrying out inclusion chats with students to ensure young people felt included and any issues could be addressed. The Service has also been in the process of developing working consultations with parents to try and manage the situation at home with children who had been struggling.

 

Committee Members were keen to understand how children could get the best start for school life and if there were any projects in place to encourage parents to take advantage of early years at school.

 

In response it was noted that families were encouraged to access early years help, this service could be used to respond to the needs of children, young people and their families. Whilst this service had been available to everyone and officers regularly engaged with families, ultimately it would be up to the family to take advantage and gain access as families had the right to make the choice.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.

81.

SUFFICIENCY STRATEGY TO INCLUDE IN-HOUSE FOSTERING AND ADOPTION pdf icon PDF 242 KB

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services will present a report (Document X) on the Bradford Sufficiency Strategy which details how Bradford City Council intends to meet the ‘Sufficiency Duty’ 1 set out in Section 22G of the Children Act 1989.

It sets out the Council’s vision and approach to meeting its responsibilities to provide secure, safe and appropriate accommodation to children in need, children in care and care leavers over the next three years

 

Recommended – That the Committee note the contents of the Sufficiency Strategy or alternatively offer feedback that can further strengthen the strategy.

 

(Philip Segurola – (01274) 431266)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

1.    That the comments and views raised by members be considered as part of the ongoing developments of the strategy and the documented presentation thereof.

 

2.    This Committee requests that a report be presented in 12 months, which specifically focuses on the progress being made against the Sufficiency Strategy Action Plan.

 

 

ACTION – Strategic Director Children’s Services

 

Minutes:

The Strategic Director of Children’s Services presented a report (Document “X”) on the Bradford Sufficiency Strategy which details how Bradford City Council intends to meet the ‘Sufficiency Duty’ 1 set out in Section 22G of the Children Act 1989.

It set out the Council’s vision and approach to meeting its responsibilities to provide secure, safe and appropriate accommodation to children in need, children in care and care leavers over the next three years

 

 

The Assistant Director for Children’s Service provided a summary on the Sufficiency Strategy.

 

The Officer reported that the population for Looked After Children continued to increase nationally but has increased above average in Bradford. Therefore, the new strategy would focus on issues related to sufficiency of placements for these children and aims to ensure a sufficient range of high quality accommodation for Children in Care and Care Leavers in Bradford.

 

The Officer outlined what the strategy would allow the Service to achieve.

 

Committee Members wanted to know more about the existing recruiting process for foster carers.

In response the Officer informed that currently an external agency was being used to assist with recruitment. However, this process had not proved to be very successful as it has not been delivering the correct message to potential recruits.

The Officer further informed that ways to improve the process were being explored.

 

Members of the Committee wanted to know if there was an ongoing progression assessment for foster carers.

 

In response, the Assistant Director for Children’s Service advised that annual reviews are carried out for each fostering household but these needed improving, which was being looked at. Reviews play an important part in measuring progress and identifying issues with foster carers that can then be addressed.

 

Committee Members were keen to understand what the key factors for the increase in Children in Care were, and if lack of early years help could have been a factor.

 

The Officers response to this was that there were many reasons for the increase and lack of early years help may have also been a factor that lead to a child being care.

 

The Members of the Committee questioned figures in the report and wanted to know if the payments were capped. In response the Officer provided further clarification on revenues and funding.

 

Committee Members were concerned that the report lacked targets which made it difficult to trace actions. Committee Members stated that the Sufficiency Strategy needed to be more transparent and required more detail. This was noted by the presenting officer.

 

Committee Members were concerned that care leavers continued to be at risk of homelessness and wanted to know what efforts were made to rescue vulnerable young care leavers.

 

In response the Assistant Director for Children’s Service reported that young people were in care due to substantial difficulties and some have very complex needs. The aim had been to identify the needs of young people and direct them to the correct agency/provider.

 

Resolved –

 

1.    That the comments and views raised by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 81.

82.

CHILDREN'S SERVICES OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - WORK PROGRAMME 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 236 KB

The report of the Chair of the Children’s Services Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Document Z) includes the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2021/22. 

 

Recommended –

 

(1)  That members consider and comment on the areas of work

included in the work programme.

 

(2)  That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.

 

(Mustansir Butt – (01274) 432574)

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved –

 

Members discussed and ammended the work programme.

 

ACTION:  Overview & Scrutiny Lead

83.

EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

Recommended – That the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the item relating to Residential Children’s Homes & Related Issues Document Y on the grounds that it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if they were present, exempt information within Paragraph 8  (information which is likely to identify an individual) of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), would be disclosed and it is considered that, in all the circumstances, the public interest in excluding public access to the relevant part of the proceedings outweighs the interest in publication of the report.

84.

RESIDENTIAL CHILDREN'S HOMES AND RELATED ISSUES

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (NFP Document Y) contains the findings from the external review of the quality of provision across the Council’s children’s homes.

 

Recommended – Members are asked to consider the report and recommendations.

 

(Philip Segurola – (01274) 431867)

Decision:

Resolved –

 

The report sets out in detail some challenging shortcomings in the operation of some of our Children’s Residential Homes.  This provides good guidance for departmental action and informative background for members.  However, it is clear that further improvement is required.

 

ACTION – Strategic Director for Children’s Services

Minutes:

 

The report of the Strategic Director of Children’s Services (NFP Document “Y”) contained the findings from the external review of the quality of provision across the Council’s children’s homes.

 

Resolved –

 

The report sets out in detail some challenging shortcomings in the operation of some of our Children’s Residential Homes.  This provides good guidance for departmental action and informative background for members.  However, it is clear that further improvement is required.

 

ACTION – Strategic Director for Children’s Services