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Meetings

Meeting Details

Corporate Parent Committee
12 Jul 2018 - 19:00 to 21:00
  • Documents
  • Attendance
  • Declarations of Interests
  • Visitors

Documents

Agenda

Standard Items
1. Apologies for Absence
There were none.
2. Urgent Matters
There were none.
3. Matters to be Considered in Private
There were none.
4. Declarations of Interest
There were none.
5. Minutes
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 22nd March 2018.
RESOLVED: That, the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March 2018 be agreed as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.
6. Update from Junior Council
Verbal Update.

Child ‘O’ updated members on the Letter Box Project (monthly parcels of books, stationery and games) received by young children six times a year. O explained that there had been a meeting with the producers of the parcels and the children earlier in the year. The children had been able to give their views on the books, play the maths games and meet some of the team from the London Borough of Ealing (LBE) that chose the enclosures.

O was pleased to tell the Committee that several Looked After Children (LAC) in Ealing had participated in filming in June 2018 to commemorate the 59th year anniversary of the Letter Box Club. The children had found the preparation for the filming very exciting. The resulting video footage would form part of a longer film which will hopefully be ready in September.

 

O reported that also in June there had been an opportunity for the Horizons staff to spend time with foster carers to demonstrate to them how the maths games should be played.

 

O told the Committee that the Junior Council end of year tea party had taken place on Tuesday 10th July 2018 and that this had gone well. There were two six year olds who wanted to join Junior Council and they will be invited to do so next year.

 

Presentation about the Corporate Kids Club (CKC)

 

Gary Odle and a young person informed the Committee that the Horizons Centre were planning to organise a free of charge summer program for LBE Looked After Children aged from 11 to 17 years of age. The interviews for someone to run the program were happening the same week as this Corporate Parent meeting. Someone with previous experience as a mentor was the preferred candidate. They would receive training for a week before the program was launched. This program would also encourage care leavers to support younger children in care.

 

The young person noted the increasing use of social media and new media among young people. There would be some events over the summer with the theme ‘Developing Social Platforms’. A related topic of interest was Safeguarding – Protecting Yourself [on social media].

 

It was noted that Skype would be a way to increase participation and communication with the Horizons Centre as a number of young people lived in semi-independent accommodation or out of borough and it would be easier to engage them in consultations using Skype.

 

The young person and Gary informed the Committee that the Corporate Kids Club planned some exciting things for the summer such as visits to a driving school, secret cinema at the Gunnersbury Museum and a visit to Stubbers Adventure Centre. They anticipated that a report and film on their activities would be brought to the next meeting.

7. Feedback from the Horizons ShoutOut Forum
Verbal Update.

Three Young People Representatives, L, C and J asked the Committee for feedback about their request for Council Tax exemption up to age 25 following the meeting in March 2018 between officers from Children’s Services and those from the Council Tax department.

 

Carol Yates informed them and the Committee that the request for a Council Tax exemption for all care leavers up to the age of 21 had been agreed and would be retrospectively applied from 1st April 2018. She said Councillor Bell had also agreed to this and that a Financial Policy for Care Leavers would be sent to every LBE care leaver whether they lived in or out of the borough, spelling out how the exemption will work.

 

The young people from the Shout Out Forum were concerned that the LBE might not be aware of the change of circumstances of some young people. Judith Finlay reassured them that the Council was in touch with most young people leaving care and would liaise with the care workers for those leaving/who had left care. The Council Tax exemption would form part of the London Borough of Ealing’s Leaving Care Offer. Letters would be sent to all care leavers over the last four years whose case had been closed outlining what is available under the LBE Leaving Care Offer and the young people will be able to speak to Gary or Jude via the Horizon’s Centre phone number. Care leavers with very complex needs will be referred to a fuller service.

 

It was anticipated that the Leaving Care Offer will be a light-touch, opt-in scheme, useful for sign-posting care leavers to information and services they might need and were eligible for. Social media and the Stubbers event would also be used to reach out to the young people and publicise the Leaving Care Offer.

 

Marcella Phelan reminded the Committee that the LBE had a duty to consult on its leaving care offer before publication of the offer at the end of 2018. Two consultations had been held so far with another planned for this summer.

 

The Committee was informed that so far 240 young people were eligible for the back dated amount of Council tax for the exemption up to age 21. With respect to the exemption up to age 25, LBE Children’s Services was also in liaison with the LBE Council Tax Support team and Hounslow council to consider allowing an exemption from council tax for care leavers up to the age of 25. This would indicate that they were a vulnerable group. A factor of uncertainty was whether any exemption from council tax up to age 25 would apply to LBE care leavers who lived out of borough.

 

Councillor Bell reiterated what he had said at the last Corporate Parent Committee meeting about the need for comparative data. He also wanted to know how the cost of this would be met. Carol Yates said the costs of funding the exemption for care leavers up to age 25, including for those living out of borough was of particular concern. It would be easier to do this if the policy was nationally adopted.

 

The young people said that Islington, Haringey and Hammersmith Councils had all introduced council tax exemptions for care leavers up to age 25 now and that some other boroughs would raise the age-limit for the exemption from age 21 to 25 next [tax] year. The young people said that they would continue their campaign which is backed by the Children’s Society and noted the speed with which change was happening on this issue London-wide and nationally.

 

Members and officers congratulated the young people on the success of their campaign.

 

RESOLVED that officers will:

 

  • provide comparative data on what other boroughs were doing;
  • provide data on the costs involved in applying the exemption up to age 25; and

  • provide a firmer proposal for means testing young people’s eligibility for any exemption.
8. My Education Mentors Project Update
Verbal Update

Z, Lead Mentor for the ME Project and P, a Graduate Mentor for the project, updated the Committee on the work of the ME Mentors Project over the summer term.

 

The project had held themed panels over the preceding months on topics such as managing stress (April/May) and Post-16 options (June). The July Panel will be an opportunity to evaluate the year and have end of term celebrations.

 

P, who works in film and graduated from the University of West London last year, spoke about the fortnightly prep sessions that had been held to prepare for the Panels. Activities in the prep sessions included: building rapport with mentees, role playing, communication skills and calling mentees to recruit for the Panel. Mentors had also provided evaluations on how they felt the project had gone this year. The final prep session had ended with an individual performance review for each mentor.

 

Z informed the Panel that she has continued with the weekly outreach mentoring sessions at William Perkins School. She also mentors young people from Acton High School on alternate Mondays and a vulnerable young person over the telephone. Z said she and the Designated Teacher (DT) for William Perkin had presented feedback on the ME Project pilot at William Perkin and its impact, to the DT Network meeting this summer.

 

Z stated that ME Project were looking to work with Greenford High School and Cardinal Wiseman School in the next academic year.

 

Councillors Bell, Johnson and other members of the Committee were interested to note that the ME Panels had gone well and that children as young as those in years 7 and 8 experienced exam stress well before reaching the age for their GCSEs.

Marcella Phelan informed the Panel that the lead mentor, Z, was stepping down from this post in order to take up a job as a teaching assistant. The Committee congratulated Z on her new appointment and thanked her for her outstanding contribution to young people and the ME project over the last 2 years.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the update.

Bridie McDonagh (Virtual School Head Teacher) spoke to her report. Looked After Children in Ealing in Reception, Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 had performed better than the London and national averages. This is attributable to the intervention strategy the LBE has in place.

Councillor Millican wanted to know about bench-marking the performance of Ealing’s Looked After Children and what impact the performance of the wider school had on the performance of Looked After Children. Bridie responded that the schools did do benchmarking within the school and that the LBE does bench-marking for vulnerable groups at schools within the borough.

Bridie went on to tell the Committee that there was some drift in performance at key stage 3 and key stage 4 and there was a challenge to reduce this drop-off in performance. Furthermore, LBE had a challenge with the attendance of Looked After Children compared with other boroughs.

Pupil Premium Grant

Bridie informed the Committee that from September 2018 the LBE will be required to declare how money from the Pupil Premium Grant is spent. The Council will also be required to provide statements of the impact of the grants on the children. Bridie recounted that these funds were currently being spent on measures like the ME Project, which it was acknowledged did not currently benefit the out-of-borough Looked After Children; on developmental trauma training and other priorities.

Exclusions

This did have an impact on the attendance figures for Looked After Children as it counts as non-attendance. There had not been any instances of permanent exclusions although there had been some of persistent disruptive behaviour.

Degree Results

Bridie reported that so far this academic year she could confirm that one LBE Looked After Child had achieved a first and another had achieved a 2.1. Last year four LBE Looked After Children achieved first class honours.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report and its appendices.

Debbie Gabriel introduced her report by informing the committee that the same number of foster carers had been recruited in the year April 2017 to March 2018 as for the previous year yet the conversion rate of enquirer to approved foster carer had improved.

 

The Fostering Team had made great efforts to use social media however they faced the challenge of competing advertisements from private fostering agencies. Debbie said the LBE’s fostering department’s social media presence was still in the learning and development phase and they would continue with traditional means of outreach.

 

Councillor Rooney asked how councillors can collaborate with the LBE with respect to recruiting foster carers. Councillor Johnson suggested outreaches to churches and other places of worship. Councillor Sharma said that the ward forum meetings may also be suitable to reach out to potential foster carers. Councillor Johnson suggested that LBE foster carers that are known to be good could perhaps be given an extra room in their homes to accommodate additional children. Councillor Bell noted the re-branding of LBE fostering as Brighter Futures, part of the New Ways of Working, a central core of the Council’s Future Ealing Project.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

Debbie Gabriel introduced her report.

 

Adopt London

Four separate regional adoption agencies are to be created in London.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

Ian Jenkins introduced this report. There had been an increase in the funding allocation from the Ministry of Justice for this year - £117,889 of which £85,000 had been spent as at the date of today’s meeting.

 

There had been a fall in the number of young people in 2016/17 who had appeared at court and who had been charged as well as in the number of those who had entered the Youth Justice System (YJS) via the Out of Court (OOC) process in that year when compared with 2015/16.

 

The main offences the young people had been arrested for include drugs and knife crime. Ian reported that the Looked After children were over-represented in the YJS and that that system was now more robust in ensuring that where a young person is alleged to have caused damage to the care home, such persons are diverted to the OOC for a more informed decision to be made on their personal circumstances.

 

Furthermore, from July 2018 the Youth Justice System will pass information directly on to the Care Leavers Team in Horizons so they can immediately contact the Looked After Young Person who has been arrested.

 

It was noted that more work needed to be done on the ethnicity of the Looked After Children involved in arrests.

 

Councillor Bell welcomed this report.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

 

Contextual Safeguarding

John Churchill gave a presentation on safeguarding the point of which was to raise awareness and understanding among the Committee and young people that they can be at risk of significant harm or exploitation outside of the home.

 

It was pointed out that LAC young people were particularly at risk of joining gangs. John said his team would work closely with Gary to develop a Vulnerabilities Screening Tool.

 

There had also been meetings among a panel of three boroughs to try to address this issue. Links with charitable organisations such as St Christopher’s and MAC-UK would also be forged.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the presentation.

 

Judith Finlay spoke to Heather Dickie’s report.

 

Four complaints had been dealt with informally at Stage 1. No complaints had proceeded to Stage 2 or Stage 3.

 

RESOLVED:

 The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

14. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 18th October 2018.

The date of the next meeting is Thursday 18th October 2018.

 

Chair……………………………………… (Councillor Julian Bell)

 

The meeting ended at 8:55pm

Paul Najsarek, Chief Executive, 4th July 2018.

Additional Meeting Documents

Attendance

Name
No other member attendance information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
No apology information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for AbsenceSubstituted By
No absentee information has been recorded for the meeting.

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

Visitor Information is not yet available for this meeting