A report from the Director of Law and Governance is attached. (Non key)
(7.25 – 7.30 pm)
Councillor Rick Jewell (Cabinet Member for Children’s Services) introduced the report of the Director of Law and Governance (No.70) providing the report of the scrutiny work stream on the transition of children leaving care.
1. The recommendations of the Scrutiny work stream together with the comments of the Cabinet Member and Executive Director, as detailed in the report.
2. The conclusion of the work stream set out in section 12 of the report.
3. That the work stream had been chaired by Councillor Susan Erbil.
4. The statutory duties of the Local Authority and its role as a Corporate Parent, as detailed in the report. Looked after children were some of the most vulnerable children in society and as such, they needed and deserved the best possible support from the services available. The work stream had raised awareness of this important area of responsibility and several recommendations had been made, as set out in the report.
5. Appendix A to the report set out the responses of the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Executive Director – People to the report and recommendations of the Transition of Children Leaving Care Scrutiny work stream. The recommendations were highlighted to Members.
6. Councillor Susan Erbil, as Chair of the work stream, was invited to address any comments to the Cabinet. It was noted that members of the work stream had met with a cross-section of both officers and young people. The importance of the role of the local authority as Corporate Parent was highlighted together with the need to raise awareness of the responsibilities and duties of this statutory role.
7. Members expressed their thanks and appreciation to all those who had been involved in supporting the work stream and, recognised the importance of this area of work. Councillor Ian Barnes thanked Claire Johnson in particular for the scrutiny report. The recommendations were welcomed. The need to provide effective support to care leavers was acknowledged.
8. A discussion took place on the recommendations set out in the report including issues such as apprenticeships and supported leisure activities.
9. Members took this opportunity to highlight and discuss the well-attended summer university programme which had been financially supported by the Council. Approximately 900 young people had taken part in this free programme. 85% of places had been taken up and completed. The Council expressed its commitment to continuing to support this programme in future years; and, would look at opportunities to expand and improve the training programmes on offer. Further consideration would also be given to the provision of free lunches to support those young people in need. The breadth of the courses which had been offered was praised and the resulting opportunities for young people in gaining such experience. It was noted that care leavers had also been targeted in the participation of the training on offer.
Alternative Options Considered: None, the Council had a legal duty as Corporate Parents to provide the best possible care to looked after children and care leavers.
DECISION: The Cabinet agreed to note the following recommendations and, the comments of the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Executive Director – People, as set out in Appendix A of the report:
1. Further to discussions at workstreams meetings and with the full support of the workstream members, it was agreed the Corporate Parenting Board would take forward immediately:
I. Total Respect Training (Corporate Parent Training for elected members) - it was agreed that this would be arranged through the Corporate Parent Board with training commencing as soon as possible. This was delivered in small groups by the children in Care Council, so it was agreed that it would not be possible to deliver this to all elected members, this would be targeted to elected members working with Children’s Services who need a more in depth understanding of the issues
II. Free Gym passes/ membership of Leisure clubs - it was agreed that the Corporate Parenting Board would investigate this further and look at possibilities around this
III. Gap analysis on mental health to inform a business case for increasing capacity in the CAMHS/ HEART team - it was agreed that this would be provided to the Corporate Parenting Board for them to take forward.
2. Prior to 2010, information on Corporate Parenting to inform all elected members of their own and the council’s responsibilities was previously provided as part of the induction pack given to Members. This information was to be included in future induction packs that Councillors receive when they were elected and to also be provided to all current councillors.
3. To demonstrate a whole council approach towards care leavers and to ensure that corporate parenting was everyone’s responsibility, exploration of online resources to take place for online awareness raising training purposes. This information should be made available for officers outside of Children’s Services, so they could recognise their role as corporate parents and the support that they could provide.
4. Under corporate parent responsibilities:
· The Council creates a bespoke apprenticeship scheme specifically for Care Leavers.
· Council departments consider where they might be able to provide work experience opportunities specifically to Looked after Children and Care Leavers.
· When the council agrees new contracts consideration to be given to prioritising opportunities for care leavers where possible within corporate contracts.
5. To further embed a strong corporate parenting ethos; the Council, explore the viability of developing a light touch mentoring scheme where council officers are linked to individual care leavers who had no strong family networks. Council officers taking part in the scheme would be provided with basic relevant training but ultimately such a scheme would be cost neutral.
6. To note that further to a request from officers in the leaving care team and following discussions with colleagues in adult mental health services. A single point of contact number in adult mental health services had been provided to staff in the Leaving Care team to contact for advice and guidance.
Reason: to enhance the services available and raise awareness of the Corporate Parenting duties and responsibilities with elected members and officers and further embed a strong ethos across the whole Council.