Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds.
Contact: John Grieve, Governance Services, Tel 0113 37 88662
Present: Councillor L Mulherin (Leeds) – Chair
Councillor R Forster (City of Wakefield MDC)
Councillor H Hayden (LCC)
In Attendance: S Tariq (LCC), S Johal (LCC), V Schofield (Wakefield MDC), S Whiteley (OAWY), E Booth (OAWY) and J Grieve (LCC)
Chair's Opening Remarks
The Chair introduced and welcomed Vicky Schofield the new Service Director for Children’s Social Care at Wakefield District Council.
APPEALS AGAINST REFUSAL OF INSPECTION OF DOCUMENTS
To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2 of the Access to Information Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded)
(In accordance with Procedure Rule 15.2, written notice of an appeal must be received by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting
There were no appeals against refusal of inspection of documents.
EXEMPT INFORMATION - POSSIBLE EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC
1 To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.
2 To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.
3 If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-
RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:-
There were no items identified where it was considered necessary to exclude the press or public from the meeting due to the confidential nature of the business to be considered.
To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration
(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes)
There were no late items of business identified.
DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS
To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-16 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
There were no declarations of any disclosable pecuniary interests.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive apologies for absence (If any)
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor V Kendrick (Kirklees)
To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the previous meeting held on 6th July 2018.
RESOLVED – That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 6th July 2018 were accepted as a true and correct record.
Matters Arising from the Minutes
To consider any Matters Arising from the minutes.
Head of Service Report (Minute No.8 referred) – With reference to Resolution (iii) and the decision to supply Members with details of the interagency budget pressures. The Chair reported that the requested information had be supplied to Assistant Directors but regrettably had not been passed onto Members. The Chair emphasised the need to keep Members informed directly when requested, particularly when related to financial pressures.
To consider a report by the Director of Children’s and Families which provides a summary from the Head of Service on the developments of the service since the last report to the Committee in July 2018.
The Director of Children’s Services submitted a report and provided a summary of the developments within One Adoption West Yorkshire since the last report in July 2018, which included issues around:
· Staffing & HR
· Information Technology
· Duty System
· Partnership Working
· Centre of Excellence Project (Separate agenda item)
· Meetings with Medical Advisors
· Virtual School Head (VSH)
· Special Guardianship
· Performance Management (Separate agenda item)
· Recruitment and Assessment
· Adoption Support
· Family Finding
· Development and Service Development
Referring to staffing and HR, the Head of Service reported that Mary Brudenell, Service Manager had recently left the service, having emigrated to New Zealand. Although a positive move for Mary it was a loss to the service. A new Service Manager Michelle Rawlings had since been appointed.
Members noted that issues around information technology are progressing, the new adoption support workflow was being developed and was due to be finalised by the end of the year. Accessing local authority systems from a portal on the Leeds laptop remains outstanding. This issue had been escalated within the local authorities in order for the work to be prioritised.
Members were informed that following the rollout of Enterprise Voice technology a revised Duty system came into effect on 2nd July 2018. This meant that duty was now rotated between the 3 main office bases in Bradford, Huddersfield and Leeds on a weekly basis. This had reduced the amount of time staff spend travelling to Kernel House and there had been no adverse impact upon the ability to take calls and respond effectively. The Head of Service said that the change has been viewed positively by staff and that the teams working within each office had more opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge and good practice as they come together more frequently. Members noted there had been ongoing issues within two local authorities about the capacity of medical advisors to undertake medical health assessments of children’s health needs in a timely manner. Members were informed this had led to some delays for children progressing care plans. The issue had been discussed by each local authority with commissioners in health seeking improvements to the service.
Councillor Forster said that delays in children’s medical checks was a concern. He asked if he could be supplied with further details with a view to taking up the matter directly with health partners.
Members noted a number of issues had arisen following the One Adoption West Yorkshire staff survey and event feedback – 2nd October 2018, and queried if the issues raised had been addressed.
In responding the Head of Services said all the issues had been addressed, and it was the general view of staff that they felt that they had been listened to and matters addressed.
Members welcomed the offer/ delivery of training from One Adoption West Yorkshire to other Regional Adoption Agencies (RAA’s) across the country and requested if local Members could be informed when such events were going ahead.
The Head of Service confirmed that local Members would ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
To consider a report by the Director of Children’s and Families which presents an update on the Practice Improvement Fund Project to develop a centre of excellence in adoption support.
The Director of Children’s and Families submitted a report which provided an update on the Practice Improvement Fund Project to develop a Centre of Excellence in adoption support.
The Chair introduced and welcomed: Suzanne Whiteley, Practice Improvement Lead (Barnardo’s) and Eva Booth, Project Manager (OAWY) who spoke in detail about the project and the progress made.
By way of background Members were informed that in January 2017 the Yorkshire and Humber Adoption Consortium secured funding from the Department of Education (DfE) to develop a centre of excellence for adoption support to improve the positive outcomes for children and families through an evidence based multi- agency assessment of need and support, in partnership with children, carers and others.
Members were informed that three interconnected work strands would be developed:
· A multi-agency CPD Programme, adoption practitioners/ professionals
The areas of work to be covered would include:
· Working in partnership with health and education sectors
· Working with adopters
· Adoption support assessment framework
· Assessment framework
· Multi – disciplinary assessment framework
· Continued professional development programme
· Training delivery
It was reported that there had already been ongoing discussions and engagement with local authorities, health education and voluntary sector partners as well as the development of the work with adoptive parents and young people about the development.
Reference was made to training delivery, in particularly training outcomes, with Members querying if these outcomes were measured, was there any performance indicators.
Members were informed that training outcomes could be measured via the use of a “strength and difficulties question” which would be used as an evaluation tool.
Reference was made to education, one Member suggesting that “every school needs to be good for adopted children” but how do you ensure consistency for all schools.
In responding the Head of Services said engagement between the School and the parents was key. The parent need to understand what support is available from the school, the school need to be aware of the child’s needs. The ambition was for schools to be good and “attachment friendly” to understand and respond appropriately to the needs of children who had experienced trauma and loss.
In offering comment the Chair said School Governors also need to be aware of issues around adopted pupils, with a view to providing training opportunity to designated governors.
The Chair thanked officers for their attendance and presentation and requested that further updates be provided.
(i) To note the contents of the report
(ii) To support the continued development of this work
To consider a report by the Director of Children’s and Families which sets out the second quarter performance report of the regional agency.
The Director of Children’s Services submitted a report which provided the second quarter performance statistics of the regional agency.
Addressing the report the Head of Service said the report provided the basis for performance across the region with an aim to improve practice internally and across the partnership.
Members were informed that adoption support remained one area that continued to be an issue at a national and regional level, with the delay in the implementation of a national dataset. A new adoption support workflow within the One Adoption West Yorkshire (OAWY) case recording system would start to address the issue, with new reports being developed in the first half of next year. It was anticipated that reporting regarding adoption support would start in April 2019.
Members queried how many adopters had been recruited and approved.
In responding the Head of Service said that it was intended that a figure of 120 adopters would be recruited by the end of the March 2019, compared to 69 for the previous full year. The half year figure was 51 as reported in the performance report. In stage one of the process of recruiting adopters there were delays in waiting for the health medicals completed by GP’s of applicants and less so a delay in processing the DBS checks. This could lead to delays in stage one of the process, which leads to delays in approvals
Members queried if it was still difficult to recruit adopters for sibling groups.
The Head of Service said getting adopters for sibling groups continued to be challenging, locally and nationally. This was due to issues around the adopters feeling confident in their ability to meet the needs of a sibling group as well as having suitable housing and ensuring that good support packages were available to adopters.
In summing up the Chair said it was pleasing to see that overall performance was going in the right direction
(i) To note the proposed performance information
(ii) To support the further development of this work
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The date and time for the next meeting to be determined.
RESOLVED – That future meetings be scheduled as follows:
· Wednesday 13th March 2019 at 1.00pm
· Monday 8th July 2019 at 1.00pm
(All meetings to take place in the Civic Hall, Leeds)