|Date: Thursday 22nd February 2018 Time: 09:30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale|
|Present||And||With||Also||Report to||Report of|
|COUNCILLOR S.C. THOMAS (CHAIR)|
TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (288K/bytes)
It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.
Apologies for absence were received from:
Councillors: K. Hayden
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS
There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.
SOCIAL SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
The Minutes of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 30th November, 2017 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.
Action Sheet (40K/bytes)
The Action Sheet arising from the Social Services Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 30th November, 2017 was submitted, whereupon:-
- 7 - National Adoption Service Annual Report for 2016/17
It was noted that a number of Members had not received the email to enable access to the National Adoption Service /Annual Report and the Head of Children's Services undertook to re-send.
- 8 - Corporate Safeguarding Policy
A date for the Briefing Session on Modern Day Slavery/Counter Terrorism is being arranged and delivered by the Policy Team.
- 9 - Agenda items for the Next Meeting of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee
- Review of Disabled Parking - It was decided that this item be referred to the Corporate Leadership Team.
RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.
SOCIAL SERVICES AND WELL-BEING REGIONAL AREA PLAN
Appendix 2 (918K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (77K/bytes)
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Social Services and the Regional Partnership Team, which was presented to provide Members with the Social Services and Well-Being Act Draft Regional Area Plan.
The apologies for the Officer of the Regional Partnership Team were noted.
The Corporate Director of Social Services spoke to the report and highlighted the key points therein:
- Purpose of the Report
The Corporate Director made reference to paragraph 1.8 of the report and explained that this should have been referred to in past tense. Reference was also made to 6.1 - Option 2 that should have read 2018 and not 2017.
A question was asked on how the Regional Partnership Board sat with the PSB and the Officer explained that the two Boards were separate entities, but the intention was for them to work together. The Regional Transformation Team liaise with the PSB Lead Coordinator on a regular basis to ensure who is taking responsibility for what areas of work.
Background and Context
A Member referred to 1.2 of the Report and felt that due to the budget being cut for delivering services in Welsh, the last bullet point - "Actions required to deliver services through the medium of Welsh" - could prove a budget pressure for Social Services; the Officer agreed that Social Services would be required to fulfil this obligation.
A question was raised regarding what was expected of the 3rd Sector in relation to collaboration. The Officer responded that the Authority worked extremely well with 3rd Sector colleagues where encouragement was being made to deliver services on a more local basis. The Member raised concern regarding this volunteering service and whether there was guarantee that the service would continue to be provided during inclement weather.
RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 1 of the report be accepted, namely:
- To provide comments in relation to the Draft Area Plan and recommend the Executive Committee agree in principle to sign off the Area Plan prior to final approval by Council by 31st March, 2018, and to subsequently publish it on Blaenau Gwent's Council Website.
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL SERVICES - QUARTER 3- 2017/2018
Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Director of Social Services which was presented to provide Members with the key points from Quarter 3 of the 2017/2018 Annual Report.
The Director of Social Services spoke to the report and outlined the Purpose as well as the Background and Context. The Head of Children's Services then spoke to the report.
A Member commented on the increase in referrals and asked if the reason for this increase could be identified. The Head of Children's Services stated that the Referral Intake Team had received 1,000 referrals and although it was known where these had emanated from, a more in depth investigation needed to be looked at to determine their nature. She explained that the highest amount of referrals came from the Police and it was the Authority's responsibility to determine how far these referrals were taken.
A Member raised concern regarding the continuing increase in looked after children since December, 2017 and the Officer explained that this increase included a sibling family of 6 and a number of sibling groups of 2 that were currently in the Court process.
Following a question regarding the overspend in budget and whether there was the possibility of reducing this the Officer stated that there were no specific areas that could be reduced; she said that a key issue was to develop the 'Supporting Change Team' who were currently working with 26 children and their families to prevent them entering the care system.
The Corporate Director wished it noted that the budget pressure in relation to looked after children was affecting most authorities in Wales and the Minister for Social Services and Children had recently announced an extra 10 million to go into Winter pressures. Currently Blaenau Gwent were reported to be the best in Wales, but would have however preferred this money to go to Children's Services.
A Member asked if there was any intention or plans for the 'MASH' (Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub) set up, and the Officer explained that this had been a discussion for quite a number of years; it was noted that Newport were currently piloting this scheme and had invited Blaenau Gwent to visit to see how this worked, however there had been mixed reaction to how successful this was proving.
The Head of Adult Services spoke on to the Report.
A Member felt that the report was very positive; however there was slight concern in relation to emergency care at home visits being very short and he felt that more work should be carried out for the continuation of outgoing resources. The Head of Adult Services explained that this service was initially provided for 48 hours to enable assessments to be carried out by the Social Services Teams in order to determine the needs of the client at home.
Following a question regarding 'step up, step down' beds, the Officer stated that they were still being used with funding being in place for 8 beds until the end of March, 2018, when a further request for funding had been requested to the Regional Partnership Board for an additional year. It was noted that all partners were in support of this although the funding stream was only guaranteed for a further 2 years by the Welsh Government.
A Member requested an explanation on 1.13 of the report regarding non-criminal investigations. The Officer said that there were very few of Adult Protection referrals investigated by Police due to the nature of the referrals therefore this resulted in Social Services having to carry out the appropriate investigations in partner with other agencies (ABUHB) etc. She explained that there had been an increase in training to enable Managers to draw from a larger pool of suitably trained and skilled non-criminal investigators.
In response to a question on whether the preventative services within Adult Services could continue to be maintained at a safe level going forward due to the temporary nature of some of the funding streams, the Officer stated that risk assessments would need to be undertaken should a decision be made that funding was to cease, as a majority of these services were grant funded.
RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing that the Report be accepted, namely:
- To scrutinise the information for Quarter 3 detailed within the Director of Social Service's 2017/2018 Report and contribute to the continuous assessment of effectiveness by making appropriate recommendations to the
CORPORATE PARENTING PROGRESS REPORT
Consideration was given to report of the Head of Children's Services which was presented to provide Members with the progress made by Blaenau Gwent Corporate Parenting Board (CPB) throughout 2017 to improve outcomes and services for our Looked After Children (LAC).
The Integrated Services Team Manager for Children & Families spoke to the report and highlighted salient points therein:
- Scope of the Report
A Member welcomed the tools developed to help address safeguarding in relation to internet safety and felt that this would also support in relation to the risk of children being bullied.
A Member requested to know what the situation would be if a child was removed from their birth family and placed in care until the age of 18; what support would be provided to that young person should they decide to remain in further education. The Head of Children's Services stated that the Authority had a responsibility for all looked after children up until the age of 21 or 25 if that person is in higher education. They would be allocated a personal advisor to support them in the continuation of education and other aspects of their life. She explained that in some cases at the age of 18 the child may decide to return to their birth family. All looked after children are provided with a full understanding of why they cannot live with their birth family. The Authority promotes contact with the birth family when it is safe to do so as research shows that children in long term foster care tend to gravitate back towards their birth family as they get older.
The Head of Policy & Performance undertook to distribute to Members the letter on positivity received from the Head of Children's Branch, Welsh Government following the Welsh Government's visit on Children's Participation in September, 2017.
Following a question regarding facilities at Beaufort Road, the Head of Children's Services explained the venue was undergoing a facelift with the intention of the facility being more service user friendly.
A Member was pleased that the report indicated the positive work being carried out but felt that areas for development should also be outlined to allow a more balanced approach to discussion.
A Member wished to congratulate the Team on their hard work and success of the recent Royal Visit. He felt it a privilege to have been a part of this event.
RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the Report be accepted, namely:
- To acknowledge progress made throughout 2017 and feel confident that the Local Authority and its partners were doing enough to improve outcomes for Looked After Children as part of the Corporate Parenting responsibilities.
Councillor John Mason, Executive Member left the Meeting at this juncture.
RECRUITMENT OF FOSTER CARERS
Consideration was given to the Report of the Head of Children's Services which was presented to seek Members' support to run a Pilot Scheme to recruit specialist professional Foster Carers for Looked After Children with complex needs.
The Head of Children's Services spoke to the report and highlighted the Background and Context.
Purpose of the Report
A Member referred to the pilot scheme and asked how this scheme would identify improvements in recruiting. The Head of Children's Services explained that the increased payments made to foster carers under this scheme would be an attraction as well as the support given by the Authority. The Corporate Director stated that foster carer payments under this scheme were in line with independent fostering agencies which would hopefully attract them to transfer to the Authority.
A question was asked whether the Authority currently had existing foster carers willing to take on children with complex needs. The Officer responded that this was a possibility but assurance would need to be made that one of these carers were not in employment and did not have any other children in placement.
It was noted that by obtaining specialist carers it would save the authority financially.
Concern was expressed by a Member that if a potential carer gave up their fulltime employment to become a foster carer and later found that it was not what they wanted, what would their position be? The Officer explained that all concerns relating to this would be thoroughly explored as part of the assessment process.
RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 of the Report be accepted, namely:
- To undertake a Pilot Scheme recruiting a small number (4) of specialist experienced Foster Carers. These Carers will work for Blaenau Gwent but will be paid allowances just above those in the Independent Sector. They will commit to looking after children with the more complex needs and will treat fostering like a profession, not taking work outside the home. For this level of commitment it is proposed paying allowances of 450 per week per child. If the Carer is looking after a child and parent this figure would be 800 per week for both parent and baby. Like other Authorities consideration would be given to paying a retainer for the periods in between placements.
Michael Holding - CSSIW left the Meeting at this juncture.
REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP BOARD UPDATE - INTEGRATED COMMISSIONING AND SECTION 33 AGREEMENT FOR CARE HOMES FOR OLDER PEOPLE IN THE GWENT REGION
Consideration was given to the Report of the Corporate Director of Social Services which was presented to provide Members with the progress made towards fulfilling the statutory guidance that requires the establishment of regional Section 33 Agreements in relation to the exercise of care home accommodation functions that takes effect from April, 2018.
The Corporate Director spoke to the report and highlighted salient points contained therein:
- Purpose of the Report
The Corporate Director explained that there had been significant concern surrounding the Pooled Budget and advice received from the WLGA was that this was not a necessity; however it will go back to the Welsh Government for the legislation to be amended.
RESOLVED to recommend that Option 1 of the Report be accepted, namely:
I. That the Executive consider the scope of exercise of care home accommodation functions to be overseen by the Regional Partnership Board and delegated powers to Local Authority Executive Member of Social Services on the Regional Partnership Board, and consider any specific arrangements that need to be put in place to meet statutory duties at local and regional level.
II. That the Executive consider the required key elements for this through a formal Section 33 Partnership Agreement (covering all elements in Section 5 below) that ensures needs of individuals are met as well as local needs and regional adherence to statute, and what service delivery mechanisms may be needed to meet the duties.
III. That the Executive consider resource implications for their organisation in relation to regional governance arrangements for integrated services, and approve oversight of the Section 33 Agreement by Regional Partnership Board.
AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE SOCIAL SERVICES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (38K/bytes)
Consideration was given to the Agenda items for the Meeting to be held on Thursday, 12th April, 2018.
It was noted that the VAWDASV Strategy would be brought to the next Scrutiny Committee Meeting and the Head of Policy and Performance undertook to seek clarification on whether this needed to go through the PSB Scrutiny Committee.
Reference was made to the Older People Commissioner's Report in relation to Residential Homes and the need to have this fed back to Members at the next meeting.
RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the items be agreed for the next meeting scheduled to be held on 12th April, 2018.
- Looked After Children