Skip to main content

Meetings

Meeting Details

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

Documents

Agenda

Standard Items
1. Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor Rooney, Debbie Gabriel and Carolyn Fair.
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

RESOLVED: That, the minutes of the meeting held on 18th October 2018 be agreed as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.
6. Update from Junior Council
Verbal Update.

Four representatives from the Junior Council took it in turns to update the Committee. Clips from the Letter Box publicity video that had recently been made with the participation of some Ealing Looked After Children (LAC) and some Ealing foster carers were shown. The meeting was informed that the Letter Box project is a Book Trust program run in collaboration with the University of Leicester. The Letter Box program aims to promote children reading for enjoyment and learning at home. It helps the local authority and carers introduce children to reading and also helps to forge better relationships between children and carers. This is of great benefit as it is widely acknowledged that Looked After Children are more vulnerable academically.

 

The children had great fun playing some of the maths games for the making of the video. The Letter Box project also gives training to foster carers on how to play the maths games so that they in turn can help the children see that maths can be fun. One of the foster carers who had been featured in the video clips was also present at this meeting.

 

For many Looked After Children, getting a Letter Box parcel is the first time they get a parcel addressed to them and they feel valued. It gives them an opportunity to own their own books and it increases their confidence in reading & numeracy. There were at least 11,000 children and young people who are looked after or vulnerable in London in the year to 31st March 2018.

 

The Junior Council representatives also updated the Committee on the theme of their meetings for the current year which is Transitions. Their recent meeting had been on the topic of Transitions Timeline. The children said they recognised that changes take place in life and that some changes can be good while other changes can be challenging.

 

Some of the highlights of the Junior Council year so far included a trip to Wembley stadium, where they met the manager, Gareth Southgate and footballer, Harry Kane. The children were able to watch the England v USA and the England v Croatia games. England had won both games. The children reported that some of them had had the opportunity to be mascots and flag bearers for the games and they got to keep the costumes afterwards!

 

The children and officers also provided the following information in response to questions from the Committee:

 

They said they had enjoyed doing the film and had found the process scary yet exciting.

 

The Letter Box film will be shown to children in care and foster families nationally.

 

22 children, some older young people, Gary and Jude and some foster carers had gone on the football trips.

 

The Children in Care Senior Management Team (SMT) had secured more England tickets for use by the children and young people in the future.

 

Bridie McDonagh, (Virtual School Head Teacher), informed the Committee that the team had secured a discount for Ealing Council’s subscription to the Letter Box project because of the participation of LBE Looked After Children and foster carers in the film.

  

Not every Ealing Looked After Child gets a Letter Box parcel. Currently those in nursery, Years 1, 3, 5 and 7 received Letter Box parcels. The contents of the Letter Box parcels includes maths games, stationery, books as well as resources to be accessed online.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the update.

7. Feedback from Junior Horizons Shout-Out Forum
Verbal Update

This group were not in attendance at this evening’s Corporate Parent Committee meeting.

8. Feedback from the Horizons ShoutOut Forum
Verbal Update.

Representatives from the HSC informed the Committee that throughout the year the HSC had participated in several consultations both on a local and national level with a view to improving outcomes for care leavers in Ealing.

One consultation the HSC particularly enjoyed was a new initiative called the Listening Space. This initiative was established so staff from different LBE departments can come to the Horizons Centre and speak to the young people about social policy and in particular, how it affects them. A manager from the Youth Justice Service had attended the first meeting and some of the subjects discussed and debated were Brexit, homelessness, universal credit and employment opportunities. The conversations are aimed at highlighting what works for young people, how they think social policy can be improved and how best to negotiate policy and procedures.

Young people from the Horizons Shout-Out Council informed the committee that they had been to see the England match in Wembley stadium with the Junior Council as previously mentioned. A group of young people who had participated in a Refugee Art Project based at Horizons, also attended and thoroughly enjoyed the game and the visit to Wembley stadium. In total over 30 care leavers attended the match and the young people expressed their thanks to Alison from the Virtual School, who had helped to facilitate these projects.

The Horizons Shout-Out Council (HSC) had also been consulted on the Council’s Local Offer to Care Leavers. The young people said that feedback from the HSC on the Local Offer draft included that there was too much text in the document, which made it off-putting and might mean those with learning difficulties could not access the information. The HSC stipulated that the information should be presented with flow-charts. They were also concerned that those approaching age 25 might not be entitled to the Local Offer and wanted clarification about the age threshold. One member of the HSC expressed his concern that young people post 25 who are currently receiving support at the centre will no longer be able to use the service.

Areas the HSC wanted to see included in the Local Offer were information on educational support and well-being, council tax exemption and more information on how the exemption from age 21 – 25 will work.

The young people ended by wishing members of the Committee a great Christmas and New Year and by saying they were looking forward to their trip to the Kiln Theatre on the 21st of December and the post-Christmas dinner party at the Horizons Centre on the 28th December 2018.

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the feedback.

9. My Education Mentors Project Update
Verbal Update

The My Education Mentors Project were not in attendance at this evening’s Corporate Parent Committee meeting.

Carol Yates, Operations Manager, Looked After Children and Leaving Care Team, introduced her report by handing out draft colour copies of what the Local Offer brochure will look like when published.

 

Carol said it had been helpful to have input from the young people as they had really brought the issues to life. This latest draft incorporated feedback from the young people as well as further feedback received from Gary and Jude. Today’s resulting draft now contains more flow-charts and proper headings.

 

Carol went on to say that if assistance was needed, care leavers could turn to the staff at the Horizons Centre for help in understanding the document as well as to their personal advisers, the Leaving Care team and the 20+ Team. Carol offered that although publication of the Council’s Local Offer to Care Leavers was scheduled for 9.30am on Friday 14th December (the day after the meeting), if there were parts of the Local Offer brochure that were still too wordy, she would have a look overnight to try and amend this.

 

Carol advised that additional areas being looked at for the Local Offer to cover included emotional health and mental well-being, to reflect concerns of the young people. Carol went on to say the SMT had put in a bid for funding for a psychologist to run clinics addressing emotional health, mental well-being and obesity. She informed the Committee that currently the psychologist was doing art therapy classes with young people who were not yet settled in their immigration status.

 

With respect to opting-in to the Council Tax exemption, Carol said that there would be a letter going out to all care leavers next week. Carol acknowledged that she had received reports of young people not getting through to the Council Tax Support team on the phone. She had had a meeting with the manager of the Council Tax Support Scheme to explain that this exemption was important to the young people. The manager has said that she will prioritise calls from young people leaving care.

 

Carol said she and Gary were going to have a further meeting with the Council Tax Support Scheme manager to arrange for her to come and speak to the young people at the Horizons Centre.

 

Young people from the Horizons Shout-Out Forum asked whether they would have an opportunity to formally review the Local Offer again before it was published. Carol said she was aware that there were 12 typos in the brochure however there were no significant changes since the young people had reviewed it last. Carol went on to say that Ealing Council will consult with the young people again three months before the next Local Offer publication date. That consultation is likely to be in September 2019. Marcella added that the last Local Offer consultation/review meeting had been very well attended by the young people.

 

Marcella informed the Committee that at the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 11th December 2018, the decision had been taken that all care leavers living in Ealing up to 25 years of age, will be exempt from council tax from April 2019. The exemption will apply to all care leavers living in Ealing whether they had previously been looked after by Ealing Council or another borough. It was clear that other Councils had taken similar measures.

 

The young people wanted to know about the position regarding Ealing care leavers living in another borough. Carol said that this will be looked at on a case by case basis; if the young people were living in another borough where the same exemption applied to care leavers, then it is likely arrangements could be made for the exemption to apply.

 

Carol Yates said that the process for care leavers to apply for the council tax exemption will be spelt out in a separate document to the leaving care offer. Currently, there were a few sentences referring to the exemption in the Local Offer brochure.

 

            ACTIVE EALING

           

Officers informed the Committee that they had meetings with the Active Ealing Team and had successfully secured Leisure Passes for all care leavers, foster carers and children in care. This would come into effect from April 2019.

 

HOUSING

 

Officers informed the Committee that they were in discussions with Ealing Council Housing Team to provide support with getting private rented accommodation for care leavers coming through. This support would not, however, be backdated.

 

LOCAL OFFER continued

           

One of the HSO Forum young people present suggested that it would be good for the brochure to have a contents page. Carol said this could be done.

 

Another young person raised the issue of whether there were plans for care leavers aged over 25 to also be entitled to an exemption from council tax. Carol replied that not as yet, however the team were open to discussing this more in the future.

 

Officers informed the Committee that the Local Offer draft had been reviewed by Councillor Johnson several times. After all the various consultations and reviews, the Local Offer document that had now been produced, was based on the national template, which the Authority had modified in response to the consultations with the young people and Councillor Johnson.

 

Officers present commended the work of Pauline Bennett, Policy and Procedures Officer, and the Ealing Council Communications Team, in putting the brochure together.

 

The Ealing Council Local Offer will be published on the following websites/web pages: Young Ealing; Children & Families Advice and Guidance Directory and on the Ealing Council website. It is anticipated that it will be posted out to all care leavers in January 2019.

 

ADVICE & SUPPORT FROM A PERSONAL ADVISER

 

Referring to page 12 of the agenda papers, Councillor Millican enquired about how the quality of the visits a care leaver would receive from an adviser would be monitored. Officers said it was a matter of professional responsibility for staff to carry out their duties fully and that front line workers sent their reports to supervisors to be checked. It was also open to young people to request to see their records when they were old enough.

 

RESOLVED:

  • The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report and the comments from the young people and members.

 

  • The Corporate Parent Committee agreed that the Leaving Care Offer should be published in December 2018, taking into account the presentation amendments suggested and agreed at this meeting.

Marcella spoke to her report about a recent two-day inspection from Ofsted that had come at a week’s notice. This visit could be described as a ‘short-focus’ visit rather than an intensive review.

 

The outcome of the visit was favourable as Ofsted could see that Ealing Council had clear plans and clear legal consents for its processes.

 

The focus of the visit was to evaluate the quality of services and care planning for children who are in care and the timeliness of permanence arrangements for children unable to live with their birth parents. Inspectors also looked at the quality of provision to prevent children coming into care and at the quality of support provided to achieve family reunification where appropriate.

 

Ofsted selected ten cases in advance to be audited in depth. Out of the ten, three cases were looked at by Ofsted. The outcome of their audit was favourable. Ofsted looked at the Brighter Futures Program and were able to ratify this program as they could see the change in the young people’s lives.

 

The Visit identified strengths in the Authority’s approach, including:

 

i)          The authority is a highly ambitious Corporate Parent. Each child in care is surrounded by a team of professionals who work closely together to provide exceptional care and support.

ii)         Staff say that they feel valued by their leaders and managers and their caseloads are manageable. Staff retention is improving.

iii)        Dedicated specialist teams provide excellent support to those at risk of coming into care and to help those who can return to their families.

 

There were currently around 400 Looked After Children in Ealing and Ofsted commended the Authority’s recognition that different children with diverse needs require different input.

 

The Visit did identify some areas for on-going improvement, such as the work of the Authority’s specialist legal team and the consistency and timeliness of parallel plans for all children who cannot live with their birth parents. The Visits also identified that the Authority’s kinship assessments and family finding services needed further development.

 

Carol said the Authority was attempting to address this by a departmental re-structure. They were hoping to recruit a team manager who would have oversight of parallel planning within the next two months. Carol informed the Committee that on the whole, the authority does do parallel planning but Ofsted had found two cases where this had not been done.

 

Marcella informed the Committee that Ofsted’s current approach was for inspections to take place over a three-year cycle; with two focused visits in between a Short Inspection which takes place every third year. Ealing Council’s next Ofsted Short Inspection is due in May 2019.

Carol advised the Committee that the Authority has had calls from other boroughs. That is, Ofsted has been suggesting to other boroughs that they might like to speak to Ealing Council.

 

On hearing this, Corporate Parent Committee wanted to put on record their thanks to the officers in the Looked After Children team.

 

RESOLVED:

 

  • The Committee noted the updated Ofsted Inspection regime that now takes place over a 3 year cycle.

  • The Committee noted the overall positive findings of this focused visit – Appendix A to this report (attached to the Agenda).

  • The Committee noted that there is still a need for continuous progress and that Officers are developing an action plan to address areas where further action is required. 

 

Bridie McDonagh, Virtual School Head Teacher, directed members to parts of her report charting the academic progress of young people in Year 12 and Year 13 in the 2017/18 academic year and in the current academic year.

 

Bridie then went on to speak about the progress reports for the end of the academic year 2017-2018 for students at Key Stages 1 (Year 2) and 4 (Year 11). Councillor Millican inquired whether the data was available for Key stage 3, as that might provide a better, more recent comparison of the young people’s progress. Bridie confirmed that this data was available and would be brought to the Committee at a later date.

 

Bridie went on to say that the Looked After Children Education Team recognised the importance of reading and maths and there was assistance available at the Horizons Centre to help children in these areas. There was an intervention strategy in place for a number of the children and this was reflected in their pupil premium grant and their personal education plans. The intervention strategy focused on those young people whom it was felt could achieve with a bit of help.

 

The Committee was asked to note that one young person did extremely well and got grade 9s in eight subjects.

 

RESOLVED:

  • The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

  • Virtual School Head Teacher to provide information on Year 9 progress by Key Stage 4.

 

Judith Finlay spoke to Heather Dickie’s report. Only two complaints had been received. Both were considered at Stage 1 (informal stage). One complaint had resulted in an apology, the other was still on-going.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

Marcella Phelan spoke to Mary Umrigar’s report which provided a brief analysis on the April 2018 to September 2018 performance for children looked after (CLA), child protection and care leavers.

 

All indicators showed that the Authority’s performance was at good or acceptable levels and that the trends were going in the right direction.

 

RESOLVED:

The Corporate Parent Committee noted the report.

15. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting will be held on Thursday 21st March 2019.

The date of the next meeting is Thursday 21st March 2019.

 

 

 

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

 

The meeting ended at 8:00pm

Paul Najsarek, Chief Executive, 4th December 2018.

Additional Meeting Documents

Attendance

Name
No other member attendance information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
Councillor Sarah Rooney  
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