Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Overview & Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Pontypool NP4 6YB

Contact: Geraint Thomas  Senior Business Support Officer (Democratic Services)

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome & apologies / Croeso ac ymddiheuriadau

Minutes:

1.1       Apologies were received from Councillors Glyn Caron, Kathy Evans, Alan Jones, Richard Overton and Raymond Williams.

2.

Declarations of interest / Datganiadau o fudd

Minutes:

2.1       The Chair reminded Members that if they felt that they had an interest to declare in any items, they should do so and record it on the Declarations of Interest pro forma provided.

 

2.2       Councillor Rose Seabourne declared a personal interest in agenda item 5 as she was a member of the Fostering Panel.

 

2.3       Councillor Colette Thomas declared a personal interest in agenda item 5 as she was a member of the Corporate Parenting Panel.

3.

Minutes 25/9/2019 / Cofnodion 25/9/2019 pdf icon PDF 368 KB

Minutes:

3.1       The minutes of the meeting held on 25th September 2019 were confirmed as an accurate record.

4.

Action sheet / Taflen Gweithredu pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Minutes:

4.1       The Committee noted the action sheet.

5.

LAC Reduction Plan / Cynllun Lleihau Plant Mewn Gofal pdf icon PDF 387 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1       The HoC&FS gave a brief introduction to the report, highlighting the following areas:

  • At the end of quarter one 2019, there were 421 children in the looked after population within Torfaen, compared to 290 children in 2015. Following the end of the quarter the figure rose to 443 in October 2019; however it had stabilised and reduced to 434 at present, following transformation work and the introduction of the Multi-Agency Support and Safeguarding Hub (MASSH).
  • Costs for a looked after placement varied enormously from approximately £300 per week to £7,000 per week.
  • Torfaen had the highest rate of looked after children per 10,000 population within Wales; however the Local Authority (LA) focussed heavily on the safety of children and mitigating risks.

 

5.2       Following Members’ questions and comments, the HoC&FS made the following main points:

  • The Looked After Children (LAC) population in Torfaen was high for a multitude of complex reasons, such as changes in practice and legislation, greater Court focus on risks, increased poverty, focus on the impacts of domestic violence, availability of substances to misuse and the reduction in early interventions that were once available.
  • Torfaen was one of five Welsh local authorities not to set a target reduction figure for LAC; however there was officer and political support for this decision within the LA, as well as from Lynne Neagle AM. He was confident that Welsh Government (WG) understood the reasons for the above; however their response was not favourable.
  • The LA had not set a target reduction figure for LAC because they wanted to stabilise the numbers before focussing on reduction, and it was the LA’s position that children’s safety was paramount. He added that significant work in this area had already taken place, in spite of WG targets, and that the LA’s quarterly report to WG would highlight the recent reduction seen in Torfaen.
  • By not setting any targets for reducing the LAC numbers, the LA had put extra scrutiny upon itself.
  • There were no punitive measures for local authorities who did not meet the LAC reduction targets, as this would be counter-productive.
  • The Deputy Minister would be visiting Torfaen on 30 January 2020, where the positive work of the MASSH would be evidenced, alongside the longer-term plan for this area.
  • The performance management framework was going to be reviewed in order for the information to be more analytical and effective in terms of service planning.
  • A consistent understanding of thresholds and expectations were required amongst the LA and its partners regarding referrals, as often individuals only required to be signposted to available services.
  • Residential placements can be the result of a multitude of reasons, such as disabilities, level of risk, the need for therapeutic work or simply that there is not another short-term alternative.
  • The LA currently had 14 children placed in residential placements and although most were better placed within Torfaen; some children were placed out of the area in order to break a particular cycle. He added that an in-house  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Date of next meeting 29/1/2020 / Dyddiad y cyfarfod nesaf 29/1/2020

Minutes:

6.1       The date of the next meeting was noted. The Chair informed the Committee that they would be considering the EAS Business Plan. The Chair also confirmed that a date would soon be set for the next meeting of the School Standards Monitoring Sub Committee, and that a list of priority schools would be considered by the Committee in advance of the meeting.

 

6.2       Members suggested that the following items could be added to the Committee’s work programme:

  • Additional Learning Needs
  • The Post 16 Learning Centre
  • School Curriculum

 

6.3       The meeting ended at 12.00pm.