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Contact: Aaron Sams 01273 335274
Election of Chair
1.1 Councillor Kathryn Field was elected Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel.
2.1 RESOLVED to agree as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 30 April 2021.
Apologies for absence
3.1 Apologies were received from Councillor Sam Adeniji.
Disclosure of Interests
Disclosure by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.
4.1 Councillor Matthew Milligan declared a personal non-prejudicial interest that a close relative is a registered Foster Carer in East Sussex.
Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the end of the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgently.
5.1 There were none.
Report by the Director of Children’s Services
6.1 The Panel considered
a report by the Director of Children’s Services which
outlined the performance and progress of the East Sussex Fostering
Service for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. Adrian Sewell
(Operations Manager – Fostering Service) provided further
detail regarding the key activities and work of the service. This
included information regarding: recruitment & retention
activities, publicity campaigns, Foster Carer training, the work of
the Children in Care Council (CiCC) and an update on the impact of
the Covid-19 pandemic on the service.
6.2 The Panel were
informed that 351 placements were made during the reporting period
and that 277 of these were in-house and 74 were agency
6.3 In response to a question from the Panel, Members were informed that the enquiry to
conversion rate for potential carers was 9% in the previous financial year which is the highest
conversation rate for the past 3 years. Whilst the Panel welcomed the latest increased figure,
Members queried whether the 9% figure was still too low. In response, the Panel heard that
nationally conversation rates are low and that in comparison to other local authorities East
Sussex has a relatively high level of conversion. The Panel further heard that many people
consider fostering and make initial enquiries about the role and then decide for a variety of
reasons that it is not for them, or that it may be something they return to at a future date. Liz
Rugg, Assistant Director for Early Help and Social Care also informed the Panel that the Foster
Service has a selection process for approving Carers and that not everybody that expresses an
interest will be approved.
6.4 The Panel discussed the recruitment campaigns for Foster Carers and requested more
detail on the specifics of the targeted campaigns. In response, Mr Sewell informed the Panel
that the targeted campaigns focus on the fostering of particular groups such as Unaccompanied
Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) and children with disabilities. Further details were also
provided about the content of the advertisements and the ongoing work with the
Communications & Marketing Team. Sally Carnie, Head of Looked After Children Services also
updated the Panel on the Department’s targeted social media campaigns, which enable
fostering recruitment posts to appear in the social media feeds of those that have already
engaged with particular profiles which relate to fostering..
6.5 RESOLVED – to note the report.
Report by Director of Children's Services.
7.1 The Panel considered a report by the Director of Children’s Services which provided an update on Looked After Children (LAC) statistics.
7.2 Liz Rugg, Assistant Director for Early Help and Social Care updated the Panel on the
latest data regarding LAC in East Sussex. Members heard that in the last quarter there has
been an increase in the numbers of LAC and that on 30 June 2021 the total had increased to
622, up from 612 in March 2021. The Panel were informed that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic
continues to place significant additional pressures on many households, including on carers,
agency foster carers and on placements with family members.
7.3 The Panel asked about the rate of payment for East Sussex County Council employed
Foster Carers. Liz Rugg informed the Panel that fostering payments are comprised of two parts:
the maintenance rate and the fee. The maintenance rate is non-taxable and covers the costs of
the maintenance for looking after a child, and the fee is payment for being a foster carer. The
fee received by individual carers takes into consideration, for example, the longevity of service
and the level of training the carer has undertaken.
7.4 RESOLVED – to note the report.
Exclusion of Press and Public
To consider excluding the public and press from the meeting for the next two agenda items on the grounds that if the public and press were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as specified in Category 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), namely information relating to any individual.
8.1 RESOLVED - to exclude the public and press from the meeting for items 9 and 10 on the agenda (see minutes 26 and 27) on the grounds that if the public and press were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as specified in category 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), namely information relating to any individual. It was considered that the public interest in maintaining the exception outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.
Ofsted Inspection report for Hazel Lodge
9.1 The Panel considered an Ofsted Inspection report for Hazel Lodge Children’s Home.
9.2 Nicola Scott, Operations Manager – Residential Looked After Children’s Services introduced the report. The Panel were informed that the Ofsted review took place at the end of May 2021 and that the overall inspection judgement was ‘good’ but that one area, the effectiveness of leaders and managers, received a ‘requires improvement to be good’.
9.3 The Panel asked for more detail about the Ofsted review outcome and the steps being taken to ensure an effective action plan is in place. Nicola Scott confirmed to the Panel that a detailed action plan is in place for making these improvements and assured the Panel that this plan is shared with both Ofsted and the Regulation 44 inspectors to monitor its progress.
9.4 RESOLVED - to note the report
Children's Home Regulations 2015, Regulation 44: Inspection reports
10.1 The Panel considered Regulation 44 Reports for the following Children’s Homes:
· Brodrick House
· Hazel Lodge
· Homefield Cottage
· Lansdowne Secure Unit
· The Bungalow
10.2 The Panel received a verbal update from each of the Registered Homes’ Managers (RHM’s).
10.3 The Panel asked about the definition of ‘missing’ with regards to a child being absent
from their home and sought assurance that this is resolved quickly and effectively.
In response, Liz Rugg informed members that the term ‘missing’ includes a child being absent
without permission or explanation. The Panel were also provided with information about the
procedures the Department have in place to locate missing children and how they work closely
with the Police to ensure children are located and
returned as quickly and safely as possible.
10.4 The Panel asked whether children who have left a Home are able to keep in touch with staff and other residents. In response the Panel heard that if a child wants to, arrangements are in place to support continued contact and that children who are old enough often communicate with their peers via social media
10.5 The Panel raised a point of concern from one of the Regulation 44 reports. This report stated that no residential staff or children were interviewed as part of the inspection. Liz Rugg informed the Panel that inspections can take a number of forms and that occasionally the inspector does not have a chance or feel it necessary to interview staff of children. However, this is not typical, and most inspections will include interviews.
10.6 RESOLVED – to note the reports.
Any other exempt items considered urgent by the Chair.
11.1 There were none.
Any other non-exempt items considered urgent by the Chair.
12.1 There were none.