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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Kay Isa, Councillor Grace Williams, Father Paul Trathen, Heather Flinders and David Peplow.


Councillor Marion Fitzgerald attended as a substitute member for Councillor Kay Isa.


At the beginning of the meeting the Committee and officers paid tribute to the work of Linzi Roberts-Egan, the Deputy Chief Executive, noting her years of service to help transform the work of Families + Homes. The Committee wished her all the best in her new role as the new Chief Executive of the London Borough of Islington.




Members are required to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest they or their spouse/partner may have in any matter that is to be considered at this meeting.  Interests are defined in the front cover of this agenda.


There were no declarations of interest.




To approve the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 27th June 2019


The minutes of the meeting held on the 27th June 2019 were agreed by the Committee as a correct record of the meeting, with the addition of one correction in spelling an attendee’s name, and were signed by the Chair.




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There were no requests for public participation.




Additional documents:


Consideration was given to a report from the Head of Strategic Partnerships and the Independent Chair of the Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children Board (WFSCB). Ms Elwick introduced the report. Ms Elwick said that she was pleased to present this report earlier in the municipal year and that the Board had been another successful year. She highlighted that practice guidance that had been launched for adolescent safeguarding, which had received praise from the national working group and that officers were working to raise the awareness of the guidance.


Officers had worked on changing perceptions around neglect. Practitioners were now referring to non-attendances as ‘child not brought’ rather than ‘did not attend (DNA)’, as DNA contained implications of neglect. Ms Elwick said that she would circulate a video to the Committee on identifying neglect for practitioners. She also highlighted that schools had been better equipped regarding exclusions and persistent absences. Ms Elwick said that the partnership had decided to continue the work that had been implemented and Mr Peplow had been confirmed to continue as the Chair of the WFSCB.


The Committee asked if the board was still only expecting to receive funding for one year. Ms Elwick said that the funding was still on an annual basis. She said that officers were in discussion with partners about next steps, but there was no national funding mechanism from central government. The local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had recently had a restructure and would be looking at their own funding, but Ms Elwick said that she was unsure how much the WFSCB would receive.


The Committee asked Ms Elwick to expand on the neglect workshops. She responded that these had been provided for practitioners to ensure that their own guidance was in line with current practice. She said that officers were now developing indicators, to help raise the profile of the complex issues around neglect, as conversations with groups had indicated that practitioners had tended to focus only on the economic issues. Ms Elwick added that national research had begun on the topic and officers would incorporate findings from this research.


The Committee asked what markers were already in place. Ms Jones said that there were two main markers; children who were referred directly to the WFSCB and children that are referred by the council within twelve months. Ms Gordon said that officers would update the Committee on the benchmarking and added that a new Leaving Care Champion had been appointed.


The Committee asked officers to expand on the “We Can Talk” initiative. Ms Elwick said that this initiative had been set up by Bart’s Health, which aimed to ensure that staff were comfortable with talking with children who turn up at A+E on their own and asking questions around emotional issues. Ms Jones added that officers were looking at expanding this initiative to other partners. The Committee suggested that it might valuable to invite other partners to scrutiny committee meetings to join in with the discussion.


The Committee asked if officers had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.



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Consideration was given to a series of statutory reports relating to the Corporate Parenting function of the council. Ms Gordon introduced the item highlighting the progress that had been made, which had been verified in the recent Ofsted report.


Ms Gordon said that there had been concerns around the performance and officers opted to use the services of Coram. The figures in the report did not look good, but they represented some difficult cases and the Ofsted report had indicated that performance was good. Regarding foster care, Ms Gordon said that there had been difficulty in recruiting and assessing new foster carers in a timely manner due to a restructure within the service. She added that would be further investment for recruitment and officers were developing a business case to recruit specialist carers for bespoke support. Ms Gordon said that performance within private fostering had been good, but referrals had been lacking. The Committee congratulated officers on the fact that there had been no permanent exclusions of children in care during the last municipal year.


The Committee noted the support provided to foster carers and asked if the council had been competitive in regards to pay. Ms Gordon said that the council had not been as competitive compared to other fostering agencies, but the Mockingbird model assisted the council to become more competitive and recruit carers. She added that the priority was to ensure that children within the care of council were kept close, but some go into private foster care as they may be able to provide care for specific needs.


The Committee asked how the Partnership Consortium had been performing. Ms Gordon said that the partnership had provided more support and there were no concerns raised and would report back to the Committee on its governance.


The Committee observed that there were difficulties within housing stock within the borough and asked if loans were being provided for extensions to provide more bedrooms. Ms Gordon said that the council still provided grants and loans, and officers were still thinking of more creative ideas to expand housing capacity.


The Committee asked for clarification around the school placement in the north of the UK on page 71 of the agenda pack. Ms Gordon said that this was the wilderness placement, which was used for safeguarding reasons. She added that when foster carers are recruited outside of the borough, mileage is not taken into consideration and they are recruited through the national recruitment for safeguarding. She concluded that this was only for extreme cases and foster carers would be close to the borough and matched to each child.


The Committee asked if any work was taking place to make sure that the submission of reports and social care visits were taking place on time, and if there were any solutions being looked at to ensure this. Ms Gordon said that officers did not need to visit some children as often if they were in stable placements, but the system that officers were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.



Additional documents:


Consideration was given to a report from the Scrutiny Officer. Mr Spragg introduced the report. He indicated to the Committee the drafted programme, new action tracker and responses in the agenda pack. The Chair asked the Committee if there were any topics missing that they wished to look at and if there should be a themed review.


The Committee suggested that the report on the mental health charter could lend to a theme of school inclusion, which could be looked at alongside CAMHS. Mr Modan said that there needed to be a method for holding to account those who sign up to the mental health charter and the Time to Change pledge. Ms Brueseke said that there had been a workshop held for mental health ambassadors who had made recommendations which had been incorporated in the mental health charter.


The Committee also suggested that peri-natal work in the borough could be looked at. The Chair indicated that this may be part of the Life Chances update. Mr Spragg said that the Committee had previously looked at peri-natal care recently, but some of the elements of this could be looked at again. He added that he would circulate these recommendations to the Committee to consider.


The Committee agreed the following actions:


·         That Committee members should send any suggestions for items to the Scrutiny Officer

·         That the Scrutiny Officer follow up on SEND Crisis Group statement response

·         That the Scrutiny Officer circulate proposal for themed review that encapsulates different topics, including mental health charter in schools and CAMHS