|Date: Thursday 25th October 2018 Time: 9.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre|
|Present||And||Report to||Report of|
|COUNCILLOR H. Trollope (Chair)|
TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Version of Agenda Coversheet (172K/bytes)
The Chair informed the Committee that former Councillor Des Hillman had suffered a stroke and was currently in hospital.
It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors:-
Co- Opted Member: Mr. A. Williams
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS
There were no declarations of interests or dispensations reported.
EDUCATION & LEARNING AND SOCIAL SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Consideration was given to the Minutes of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee (Safeguarding) Meeting held on 1st May, 2018.
(The Minutes were submitted for points of accuracy only).
- Item 7 - Safeguarding Performance Information - Social Services and Education - April to December, 2017
A Member referred to the Executive Committee not agreeing to the Resolution made by the Safeguarding Scrutiny Committee and felt that the Executive Members for Education & Learning and Social Services should be invited to back to the Safeguarding Committee to explain the reason. Another Member explained that the Executive Member for Social Services was in discussion with the Corporate Director of Social Services regarding this.
The Service Manager referred to capacity issues within the Department and informed Members that The Service Manager of Children's Services had recently informed the Department that he would be taking early retirement. She explained that there were two Service Managers responsible for Children's Services as well as one currently on honorarium with Flying Start and Early Years Education and that a Senior Management Review was currently being undertaken.
The Corporate Director of Education informed Members that a response to capacity issues regarding EHE had been submitted to the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
Action Sheet (39K/bytes)
Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Joint Education & Learning and Social Services Scrutiny Committee held on 1st May, 2018 whereupon:-
The Committee AGREED that the information contained in the Action Sheet be noted.
ADULT SAFEGUARDING PERFORMANCE INFORMATION FOR THE PERIOD FROM THE 1ST APRIL 2017 TO THE 31ST MARCH 2018
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Social Services which was presented to provide Members with the Safeguarding Performance relating to Adults Services from 1st April, 2017 to 31st March, 2018.
The Head of Adult Services spoke to the report, which she stated had been drafted in the Spring of 2018, and highlighted salient points contained therein:
- Purpose of the Report
The Officer was thanked for the comprehensive report.
A Member referred to 6.4 on page 20 regarding the highest number of referrals received for females aged 65 years and over and asked if these cases related to domestic abuse at home and, if so, how would they be supported. The Head of Adult Services responded that the majority of people visited by Adult Social Services were over the age of 65 and were mainly referrals made by Local Authority employees. They were not all related to domestic abuse as some could be, for example, financial abuse. She explained that a new Domestic Abuse Support Worker had been introduced within the Safeguarding Team to build up relationships with families.
Reference was made to 6.7 of the report in relation to the five local authorities having different structures and a question was asked as to why this was the case considering they all worked under the same Health Board. The Member also related to 6.15 regarding long term thinking and all agencies involved working together. The Officer responded that the Authority was working across authorities to standardise the approach. She explained that discussions were being held across the Safeguarding Boards for the future delivery models, for example Newport was currently piloting a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) approach, and would need to await the outcome of the review of the project before decisions are made on the future structures. However, Blaenau Gwent worked with other local authorities to discuss and share policies and processes.
A Member asked the Officer to explain figures outlined in the table of 6.3 of the report and the high number of female referrals compared to male and the Officer responded that the 514 enquiries that had been received reflected the population to which support was provided, the service supported more females than males.
A Member asked if any of the cases would be referred to MARAC. The Officer confirmed that they would be referred to MARAC if they met the threshold and the case would be led by the MARAC process; Adult Social Care would not then lead the process.
Concern was raised on 6.9 of the report and the high amount of alleged abuse or neglect in Care Home settings. The Officer explained the definition and process of referring to the Safeguarding Team and this may for example include incidences relating to human error like medication being administered at the wrong time, or missed medication calls. These issues are all brought to the attention of the Service where an investigation would then be carried out. The Officer stated that it was positive that providers were reporting these issues and being transparent. A Member enquired how many of the referrals were reported by family members. The Service Manager undertook to provide this information.
In relation to 6.11 of the report, a question was asked regarding the 12 people who had refused to participate in any action being taken and the Officer stated that again this relied on consent of the client who may not wish for an investigation to be carried out, however, Social Workers would continue to work with these clients, as in some cases they may change their mind and want to continue with an investigation.
A Member asked if the Department was satisfied with the outcomes of proven cases being correct and had there been any re-offenders. The Officer stated that the Department continued to strive for satisfactory outcomes although they could not be totally content with all outcomes as some clients chose not to adhere to the risk assessment process.
Concern was raised regarding capacity especially around the growing issue of domestic abuse, and a Member felt there would be added pressure on an already pressurised environment and he asked if it was felt that the Department had sufficient capacity to enable them to move forward. The Officer explained that in relation to Adult Services a restructure had been carried out and Safeguarding referrals were being prioritised, which meant that low priority referrals may have to wait longer. She continued that grant funding had been attracted in order to make the structure more robust.
The Corporate Director of Education confirmed that capacity in Education was of concern due to Estyn moving the area of Safeguarding to Leadership Section.
A Member made reference to 6.12 on page 22 of the report regarding community engagement in adult safeguarding, he referred to the previous questionnaire that had been developed on a Gwent wide basis that had been deemed unhelpful when engaging with citizens at the end of the safeguarding process, and asked if a further document had been developed. The Head of Adult Services said that to receive positive feedback as part of a Safeguarding situation was difficult as people often did not want to engage via questionnaires, which is why it had not been helpful. What had been found to be more productive was to engage in conversation with clients in person.
A Member asked if out of the 64 referrals of domestic abuse were they all self-referrals. The Officer confirmed that some were self-referrals. It was also noted that there had not been any referrals of Modern Day Slavery.
A Member requested that an addition be made to the recommendation, namely that a report be brought back to the Joint Scrutiny Safeguarding Committee on the capacity in the Safeguarding Teams of both Children's' and Adult Services.
The Committee AGREED to this course of action.
The Committee FURTHER AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be endorsed, namely:
- To consider the information and provide comments on where improvement can be made to the current monitoring processes, and:
- To provide a report on the capacity in the Safeguarding Teams across Children's' and Adult Services.
The Chair thanked the Officers for the excellent report.
SAFEGUARDING PERFORMANCE INFORMATION FOR SOCIAL SERVICES AND EDUCATION - JANUARY TO MARCH 2018
Appendix 1 (742K/bytes)
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Social Services and Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with the Safeguarding Performance and Self Evaluation information from across the Local Authority.
The Service Manager - Safeguarding and 14+ Team spoke to the report and highlighted key points contained therein:
- Purpose of the Report
The Officer provided updated figures as at Quarter 1 2018/19:
Councillor M. Moore entered the Meeting at this juncture.
A Member referred to Figure 1.2 of the report and the highest individual referrers; he asked if a breakdown of referrals from the Police could be afforded and the Officer undertook to provide this information, she explained that work was currently being undertaken with the Police with regard to transformational changes which would hopefully see a reduction in numbers of referrals.
A question was raised regarding Figure 1 and the 1,194 referrals January to March, 2018, and had this been because of a genuine increase in need, better at reporting or as a result of training. The Officer responded that it was a mixture of all three reasons. Blaenau Gwent had a high level of deprivation but was becoming better informed with what constituted risk. She explained that in line with the Well-Being Act, intervention could be made sooner, e.g. through Families First. The Member asked in relation to Families First could a breakdown be provided of how many referrals came in from and at what stage. The Officer undertook to provide this information.
Corporate Director of Education advised that schools were very much engaging and working with the Police through the GEAT Programme - (Gwent Early Action Together), and that Ebbw Fawr Leaning Community had been chosen for the National Pilot with staff undertaking training. She stated that at a future time the Headteacher would welcome presenting Scrutiny with an overview of the work undertaken.
A Member raised concern around issues of abuse and child behaviour and felt that these were matters that needed to be looked at more closely to see how they would be treated within the school environment. He was concerned in relation to the referrals coming in and the level of action taken and he requested information on how early intervention was made, how quickly they were they dealt with and how the outcomes were being monitored. The Officer explained that all referrals came in through Social Services to the Children's Services Integrated Advice and Assistance Team, who would base their decisions on the information they had received and if the referral meets the criteria for Children Protection, the Department has a Duty to respond within 24 hours.
The Corporate Director of Education stated that work was currently being undertaken on a multi-agency basis to support vulnerable children especially in relation to a criminal element. She informed Members that a meeting with multi-agency partners would be called where various agencies would have a duty to attend; she said that there had been 3 meetings held over the past year which had proved very successful.
A Member raised an issue regarding children with referrals that were coming into Blaenau Gwent Schools from out of County and the information relating to that child not being provided to the School. The Corporate Director of Education explained that every attempt would be made to acquire the data on these children; however if the information was not forthcoming then the school would carry out their own assessment on the child. The Head of Education Transformation explained that occasionally the predecessor school does not always provide the level of information required and the Authority were working hard to ensure that robust information was provided.
It was noted that the Welsh Government's Admissions Code stated that a child has to be placed within 15 working days and the detailed information relating to that child should be provided to ensure the school is able to meet the child's needs.
The Service Manager - Safeguarding informed Members that if a child was on the Children Protection Register the Local Authority had a duty to inform the Department and once residency had been established a transfer conference would be arranged.
A Member referred to 5.1 relating to the impact on the Budget and asked if there was a timeline regarding the Senior Management Review; he also asked if it was felt that the Bullying Policy needed to be reviewed to include social media.
The Corporate Director of Education stated that one of the largest growth areas in bullying is cyber bullying and discussions were being held with Officers and Headteachers who would be attending a meeting to discuss ways in which to challenge this very difficult issue. The Officer also confirmed that clear timelines had been set in relation to the Senior Management Review and the Managing Director would be able to confirm this if necessary.
A Member stated that from his involvement with MARFs (Multi Agency Referral Forms) and the referral process, he was pleased to inform the Committee that Blaenau Gwent proved more proactive than neighbouring authorities.
Reference was made to the Figures on page 27 and the Youth and Leisure Services being low, a Member asked if this was due to there being additional engagement by youngsters; he also referred to Page 48 of the report regarding Contact by Source and asked if the figures indicated were family related. The Head of Education Transformation confirmed that there was currently a regular pattern of referrals from the Youth Service and the Department was confident that safeguarding arrangements were secure, he explained that the relatively small number that derived from the Leisure Services may be owing to open access provision being provided and that children and young people did not necessarily have direct contact with staff, however, Leisure staff are trained and vigilant.
Numbers of restrictive physical interventions
The Safeguarding in Education Manager spoke on the report and gave context around the definition of RPI, i.e. to move a child to a place of safety.
A Member asked if all staff had been trained in Restrictive Physical Intervention. The Corporate Director of Education advised Members that no appointments would be made without full and proper training and those who had been trained had been placed in schools.
A Member raised concern with the increase in numbers of restrictive intervention and asked if the rise was related to Secondary or Primary; he also asked if it was felt that there would be a need to increase the training. The Safeguarding in Education Manager informed Members that the two schools referred to were currently primary users, for Physical Intervention, and they were both the County Borough's special schools.
Elected Home Educated (EHE)
A Member asked if the Authority had been working together with the Social Services on the new ALN Act, as he felt it alarming to see 14 pupils becoming home educated during the Spring term. The Corporate Director of Education confirmed that the Officers were working together very closely, and support would be in place from both services. She referred to the Elected Home Educated forms that were required to be completed by parents and explained that the level of detail needed had now considerably increased in relation to the way in which parents intended to provide a suitable curriculum. The Member wished to thank the Corporate Director for the work that had been carried out to date with Blaenau Gwent being in the forefront.
A Member requested that an addition be made to the recommendation, namely that a report be brought back to the Joint Scrutiny Safeguarding Committee on the capacity in the Safeguarding Teams of both Children and Adult Services.
The Committee AGREED to this course of action.
The Committee FURTHER AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be endorsed, namely:
- To consider the information provided and to provide comments on where improvement can be made to the current monitoring processes, and
- To provide a report on the capacity in the Safeguarding Teams across Children and Adult Services.
EDUCATION DIRECTORATE SAFEGUARDING POLICY
Appendix 1 (499K/bytes)
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to consider the updated Education Directorate Safeguarding Policy.
The Safeguarding in Education Manager spoke to the report and highlighted The Scope and Background.
A question was asked on the children that had not reached the age of 18 and what would their relationship be with Social Services. The Service Manager explained that Looked After Children in further or higher education would be supported up to the age of 25 and this was covered under the Safeguarding Policy by the adult element. A Member made reference to the ALN Act and asked in this case why the age could not also be made to 25. The Head of Education Transformation explained that there was a distinction between children and young people.
A Member asked if any issues had arisen in relation to capacity within the Closure and Barring Service Department in Blaenau Gwent, as he was aware of a case where the appropriate checks had not been undertaken within the scheduled timeframe. The Corporate Director of Education responded that it would be the responsibility of the employee to ensure information regarding checks was provided on time. The Member emphasised that on this occasion it was found that no checks had been carried out by the Department. The Corporate Director advised that it would be the responsibility of the Organisational Development Department to carry out these checks and she was not aware of any capacity issues within this department.
Reference was made to the contact information on page 56 of the report and a Member asked for the contact details of Deputies to be included on the list. The Safeguarding in Education Manager undertook to update and include appropriate information.
It was noted by a Member that a Project Worker had now been appointed in Blaenau Gwent for Modern Day Slavery and Trafficking.
The Corporate Director of Education informed Members that subject to a future report all School Governors would be required to undertake a CBS check.