Agenda, decisions and minutes

Corporate Parenting Panel - Wednesday, 24th November, 2021 5.00 pm

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

Contact: Jill Bell/Su Booth 

Items
No. Item

5.

SUMMARY OF AGREED ACTIONS

Minutes:

 

Action

Lead

Timescale

All actions from the meeting of 27 October 2021 onward to be recorded on Action Tracker

and included in the agenda pack for future meetings.

Committee Services Officer

Ongoing

All minutes to be sent to attendees individually rather than through Modern.Gov.

Committee Services Officer

Ongoing

Chair to sign minutes of the 27 October 2021 meeting once the actions have been recorded on Action Tracker.

Cllr Thirkill

15-12-2021

Sufficiency Strategy to be brought to the Panel

P Segurola

Jan/Feb 2022

Fostering and Recruitment Strategy to be brought to the Panel

P Segurola

April 2022

IRO/FIRO establishment to be reviewed

P Segurola

April 2022

Next IRO report to be brought to the Panel

H Cliffe

May 2022

Deputy Chair to pursue the timing and approach to development of a Council-wide Participation Strategy as it related to Corporate Parenting.

Cllr Duffy

15-12-2021

Corporate Parent checklist, Ward Councillor section, bullet 7 – to be amended to clarify the distinction between Regulation 44 visits and visits to get to know homes/staff.

Cllr Duffy

15-12-2021

Corporate Parent checklist: advice to be taken from the Communications Team on its effective communication.

Cllr Duffy

15-12-2021

Corporate Parent checklist: Elected Members to determine which sections should be sent to which audiences.

Cllr Duffy

Cllr Dunbar

Cllr Pollard

15-12-2021

Corporate Parent checklist: to be reviewed regularly by the Panel in light of feedback.

Committee Services Officer

Ongoing

Consult Legal and Governance & Audit teams on the establishment of a Governing Body for the Virtual School consisting of this Panel; and on the need to increase the maximum number of Co-opted members permitted by the Constitution.

S Lowndes

15-12-2021

Amend the draft Terms of Reference as set out at paragraph 7.5 above.

Cllr Duffy

15-12-2021

Leaders of Themes to establish links with Bradford Council Lead members within whose remit their theme sat.

Theme leaders

31-01-2022

AD/SRCP to propose a schedule of dates for future meetings and key business to be taken at each.

P Segurola

15-12-2021

AD/SRCP to report to the next Panel meeting on work underway to promote recruitment of social workers.

D Johnston

Next Panel meeting

 

6.

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. 

 

 (Sheila Farnhill – 01274 432268)

Minutes:

The Committee Services Officer said that Cllr Pollard was attending this meeting as an alternate for Cllr Smith.  Cllr Smith would be unable to attend meetings for some time: Cllr Pollard would attend as his alternate.

Cllr Thirkill announced that, due to pressures on her time, she intended to step down as Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel after this meeting.  Subject to the approval of Regulatory and Appeals Committee, Sue Duffy would become Chair of the panel.

 

7.

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.

 

                                                                        (Sheila Farnhill – 01274 432268)

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

 

8.

POINTS OF ORDER

Minutes:

a)    Cllr Dunbar noted that there was no material in the agenda pack that reflected the actions agreed at the previous meeting. 

Cllr Duffy said that she had agreed with Committee Services Officer that actions would be recorded from each meeting using the Action Tracker function on Google Sheets.  The action tracker would then form part of the agenda pack for the next meeting.

b)    Cllr Dunbar had not received a copy of the minutes by post or e-mail.  From discussion it emerged that some Panel members had done so. 

The Committee Services Officer undertook to send minutes of meetings to attendees individually rather than through Modern.Gov.

 

9.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 October 2021 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Helen Osman)

Minutes:

Recommended – That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 October 2021 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated)

The Chair would sign the minutes once the actions therein had been recorded on Action Tracker.

 

10.

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/Su Booth - 01274 434580/07814 073884)

 

Minutes:

There had been no requests to review decisions to restrict documents.  The Chair noted that there had been no request to change the order of the agenda items.

 

11.

IRO ANNUAL REPORT 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

The annual report of Children’s Services (Doc “B”) provides quantitative and qualitative evidence relating to the Independent Reviewing Service in Bradford as required by statutory guidance.  The Independent Reviewing Officers’ (IRO) Annual Report must be presented to the Corporate Parenting Board and Bradford Partnership.

 

This report provides an opportunity to highlight areas of good practice and areas for improvement, identify themes and trends and report on work undertaken to date and to outline the developmental priorities for the next twelve months.

 

Recommended –

 

That the Corporate parenting panel are respectfully asked to give due consideration to the recommendations in the attached report to continue to improve services for our children and young people in Bradford.

 

(Amandip Johal - 07773 248040)

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

Resolved –

 

1.  That the report be noted and the Panel look forward to seeing evidence of improvement in the next IRO report in May 2022

2.    Thatthe Sufficiency Strategy be completed as a matter of urgency, and by February 2022 at the latest;

3.  That the Fostering and Recruitment strategy flow from the Sufficiency Strategy and be updated annually

4.  That the Independent Reviewing Officer and Foster Carer Reviewing Officer  establishment be reviewed in the context of the Sufficiency Strategy.

 

Action:  Assistant Director, Safeguarding and Review, Commissioning and Provider Services

Minutes:

The annual report of Children’s Services (Doc “B”) provided quantitative and qualitative evidence relating to the Independent Reviewing Service in Bradford as required by statutory guidance.  The Independent Reviewing Officers’ (IRO) Annual Report must be presented to the Corporate Parenting Board and Bradford Partnership.

 

The report provided an opportunity to highlight areas of good practice and areas for improvement, identify themes and trends and report on work undertaken to date and to outline the developmental priorities for the next twelve months.

The Service Manager for Safeguarding & Reviewing (SMSR) said that the agenda paper covered the period April 2020 to March 2021.  Since then, structural changes had brought oversight of the Foster Care Reviewing Officers within the remit of the Safeguarding & Reviewing Service.  She highlighted the following points in the report:

·         Funding had been provided for two additional agency Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) as part of COVID19 support: these posts would remain until further notice.

·         A parent/carer feedback form had been developed to facilitate the incorporation of their views into the review process.

·         The IRO process was being restructured to streamline it, allow for more effective challenge and involve line management.  Oversight of IRO case files had been improved, including the closing of cases by managers.  The IRO audit forms had been reviewed.

·         Although the number of children entering care in Bradford continued to increase, this did not necessarily impact caseload, which also depended on the number of children leaving care.

·         Caseloads were approximately 85 per full time employee (fte), compared with the recommendation in the IRO handbook of 65.  Nevertheless, the service had continued to meet statutory timescales in 97% of cases: where statutory timescales had not been met, the delays had been caused by late notifications to the service.

·         The service continued to embed consistency of the journey through care and to reflect the legal responsibilities of the local authority.

·         The service had undertaken significant recruitment to replace IROs who had retired: while this presented challenges, it had brought considerable new energy to the service.

·         Participation by young people in the review process was a key issue for the service, which was being addressed through the revitalisation of Viewpoint.

·         The Service was developing its relationships with partner agencies to ensure that they were undertaking the appropriate due diligence.

The Deputy Chair reminded the Panel and officers that, in future, all papers would be taken as read and not introduced by officers.  Questions were invited.

Noting that there appeared to have been no Foster Care Review Officer posts prior to 2018, the Panel asked how the foster care had been monitored.   SMSR said that foster care had been reviewed by the supervising social worker.  The Assistant Director, Safeguarding and Review, Commissioning & Provider Services (AD/SRCP), said that there was a statutory requirement that each fostering household be reviewed annually.  Until recently, these reviews had been conducted by the supervising social worker.  Recognising the conflict this raised between the supporting role of the social worker and the review role, and acknowledging that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

CORPORATE PARENTING CHECKLIST pdf icon PDF 101 KB

The Report of Children’s Services (Document “C”) provides checklist information to inform members how they can be involved as Corporate Parents and links to training and development of Members and Senior Managers.

 

Recommended –

 

The views of the Corporate Parenting Panel on the options set out in Section 9 of this report are requested. 

(Philip Segurola – 01274 431266)

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

Resolved -

 

1.    That the Corporate Parenting Checklist be amended as agreed

 

2.    That the checklist be submitted to the Communications Team for advice on presenting and communicating it effectively

 

3.    That the checklist be considered to be a live document, to be kept under review by the Panel in response to feedback

 

4.    That elected Members review the sections contained in the checklist to be shared with appropriate stakeholders

 

Action: Strategic Director, Children’s Services/CPP Panel Members

Minutes:

 

The Report of Children’s Services (Document “C”) provided checklist information to inform members how they could be involved as Corporate Parents and links to training and development of Members and Senior Managers.

The Deputy Chair said that the agenda paper had been based on a document provided by the DfE Commissioner and had been prepared in response to the Motion to Council on Child Protection.  The document needed to be agreed by this Panel and promulgated to elected Members, officer and partners.  The Panel agreed that this was an accurate statement of the background to the paper.

AD/SRCP confirmed that LAs would normally have such a document to clarify for all elected Members and Officers their role as Corporate Parents, and considered that it was a thorough statement of those responsibilities.  He invited the views of the Panel on how they wished it to be promulgated and the evidence they would require of its effectiveness. 

The Panel welcomed the document, which would help to engender the desired cultural shift by giving a clear indication of the range of actions that Members, officer and partners could and should take to fulfil their Corporate Parenting responsibilities. 

Referring to the third bullet in the section on members of the Scrutiny Committee (“seek qualitative as well as quantitative information to ensure that the experiences of children looked after are consistent with what the performance data shows”), the Panel discussed the challenges presented to Scrutiny Committee members in scrutinising qualitative information in this highly confidential and sensitive area.  In practice, an element of trust would be required that effective procedures were in place for officers to scrutinise cases with their first and second line managers to identify what had happened, the reasons and what should have happened.  It would take time to re-establish this Trust following the misinformation that the Scrutiny Committee had received at strategic level in the past. 

AD/SRCP reminded the Panel that, when they returned to conduct a full inspection, Ofsted would ask the Lead Member, and possibly other Members, how they could be sure that the LA was a good Corporate Parent.  Part of the answer would be based on quantitative evidence such as academic outcomes and stablility of placements.  This would need to be supplemented with direct knowledge of the views of young people on their experience of being in the care system in Bradford.  DD/SC added that a range of methods were in place to determine the views of children and families on placements, whether children felt safer, whether they had effective support plans etc.  Regulation 44 visits to children’s homes included information about the facilities to which children had access.  However, the LA was not currently collecting the direct views of young people as actively as it would wish.  This kind of qualitative information was challenging to collect and could change over time, because the benefits of actions were not always visible to young people immediately; but a clear understanding of the views of young people  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

CORPORATE PARENTING PANEL DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE pdf icon PDF 98 KB

The report of Children’s Services (Document “D”) informs both Members and the general public regarding the vision and purpose of the Corporate Parenting Panel and includes a new draft Terms of Reference document.

 

Recommended –

 

The views of the Corporate Parenting Panel on the options set out in Section 9 of this report are requested. 

 

(Philip Segurola - 01274 431266)

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

Resolved –

 

1.    That the Panel agreed that Terms of Reference would be useful as a means of clarifying its role and responsibilities for a range of audiences.  It noted the need to take the advice of the Legal and Governance & Audit teams on the proper way to establish the Terms of Reference and the scope to amend the provisions of the Constitution in relation to the Corporate Parenting Panel.  Specific points for discussion would be:

 

·           The proposal that a Governing Body be established for the Virtual School and that the Corporate Parenting Panel become that Governing Body.

·           The need to increase the maximum number of Co-opted members, to enable strong representation by partners and sufficient members to carry forward the themes identified at the meeting on 27 October 2021.

 

2.    That the Panel agreed the following amendments to the draft Terms of Reference set out in the report (Document “D”)

 

Location in the draft ToR

Amendment

Section headed “Purpose”, fourth bullet

Add reference to the police service - to encourage all partners, whether they work for health or social care services, West Yorkshire Police or the voluntary sector, to work in an integrated manner linking back with portfolio holders in the best interests of looked after children and care leavers’

Section headed “Purpose”

Subject to the completion of the appropriate legal and other constitutional steps, add a reference to the role of the Panel as the Governing Body of the virtual School.

Section headed “Bradford Corporate Parenting Panel will”

Add reference to the preparation of an annual report on the work of the Panel to the Partnership Board and the Council

Section headed “Bradford Corporate Parenting Panel will not”

Delete section

Section headed “Details”, paragraph 6.1

Amend to read “The Panel shall meet no less often than six eight times a year”

 

Action: Strategic Director, Children’s Services/CPP Members

Minutes:

 

The report of Children’s Services (Document “D”) informed both Members and the general public regarding the vision and purpose of the Corporate Parenting Panel and includes a new draft Terms of Reference document.

Noting that, aside from the brief statement in the Constitution, the Panel did not have Terms of Reference, the Deputy Chair said that those set out in the agenda paper had been adapted from the Corporate Parenting Panel of another local authority. 

Noting that the Virtual School had no Governing Body, the Panel considered that, like other schools, it would benefit from proper governance and accountability arrangements.  The Head of the Virtual School (Head/VS) said that the Virtual School had a Management Board but that it had not met since before the Covid outbreak and did not include representation of this Panel, as the Corporate Parent of Virtual School pupils: the Governing Bodies of other schools included parent representation.  He considered that the Virtual School sat naturally under the Corporate Parenting Panel.  Replying to questions, Head/VS said that the VS Management Board was not the same as the Management Board that oversaw the Pupil Referral Units; and that the Management Board did not hold the Virtual School to account in the way that would be expected of a Governing Body.

DD/SC supported the establishment of a Governing Body for the Virtual School consisting of this Panel.  Among other benefits, it would give the Panel a clearer view of the work of the Virtual School.  The Education and Learning Strategic Manager (ELSM) also supported the proposal: in most LAs, the Corporate Parenting Panel was also the Governing Body of the Virtual School.

The Panel discussed how best to engage young people in its work.  It noted that the Children in Care Council while a valuable partner, was not necessarily representative of the full range of Bradford’s Looked After Children.  AD/SRCP said that work was needed with the Children in Care Council to make it a more open forum, perhaps organised differently for the different age groups, so that it was more inclusive.  He suggested that meetings of this Panel might be hosted alternately by young people, in whatever format emerged from development of the Children in Care Council and the Panel itself, perhaps in different locations throughout the District, with more formal business coming to meetings hosted by the Panel and more consultative and exploratory business to those hosted by young people.  The Panel noted that this would be consistent with the views expressed by young people at the consultation meeting in July 2021 that they would like to set agendas chair meetings.  AD/SRCP said that these points would be addressed in the Participation Strategy.

 

Resolved –

 

1.    That the Panel agreed that Terms of Reference would be useful as a means of clarifying its role and responsibilities for a range of audiences.  It noted the need to take the advice of the Legal and Governance & Audit teams on the proper way to establish the Terms of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

ACTION TRACKING

Minutes:

Panel members agreed that, where they led on themes that fell within the remits of Bradford Council Lead Members, they would establish links with the Lead Members to avoid overlap, duplication or confusion.

Theme leaders reported on progress since the Panel meeting of 27 October 2021:

a) Cllr Pollard had noted a number of points from the School Governor section of the Corporate Parenting Checklist that he would take forward in his role as Theme Leader for Education.

b) Cllr Dunbar was due to meet officers to discuss transport related to housing: he would report more fully at the next meeting of the Panel.

c) Cllr Duffy and CI/WYP were due to meet and would report more fully at the next meeting of the Panel.

Asked about dates for future meetings, AD/SRCP undertook to propose a schedule of dates and key elements of business to be taken at each meeting. 

The Panel agreed to take at its next meeting an update on the work underway to promote recruitment of social workers.

Referring to its discussion on 27 October 2021 of the need to address its core values, the Panel asked that officers ensure that this was integrated with the other work underway on values.

Referring to its discussion on 27 October 2021 of the need to provide feedback to young people on the actions taken in light of their comments at the consultation meeting in July 2021, the Panel noted that it had assigned members of the panel to lead on the themes they had identified: reports to future meetings of the Panel would demonstrate that the themes were being actively pursued.

Replying to a question from AD/SRCP, the Deputy Chair confirmed the Panel’s intention that training in awareness of the Corporate Parenting role of elected Member and officers should be undertaken by Members and Officers jointly where possible and should extend across the whole of the Council: it should not be restricted to Children’s Services.