Meeting documents

Social Services Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 26th July, 2018 9.30 am

Date: Thursday 26th July 2018 Time: 9.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (171K/bytes)

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors: J. Holt, M. Moore, J. Wilkins


There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Minutes (225K/bytes)
Cofnodion (122K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Minutes of the Special Social Services Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 20th June, 2018.

AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Report (82K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (802K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chair of Social Services which was presented to seek the approval of the Social Services Scrutiny Committee.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- To agree the Forward Work Programme for the Social Services Scrutiny Committee

Report (138K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (196K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Children's Services which was presented to provide Members with an overview of the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW) Inspection of the Fostering Services in Blaenau Gwent.

The Fostering Service Manager spoke to the report and highlighted the key points therein.

- Scope and Background
- Appendix 1 - Summary of our Findings
„ Overall Assessment
„ Improvements
- Options for Consideration

The Officer referred to paragraph 2.6 and informed Members that the action plan is now in draft form and awaiting approval by the Head of Service.

A Member requested the current number of Foster Carers; he also made reference to a successful Open Day that had previously been held for Foster Carers. He asked if there was any intention of holding a further Open Day. The Fostering Service Manager responded that there was presently a stable amount of generic Foster Carers but had seen little increase in those numbers. However there were currently advertisements out for recruitment for specialist Foster Carers. The Officer explained that in relation to an Open Day, arrangements were already in place to hold an event on 30th August, 2018 which had been arranged by the Placement Team and the 14 Plus Team. It was noted that the invites were due for distribution on Monday, 30th July, 2018 for all interested parties including Members and families that had indicated an interest in becoming Carers.

A question was asked by a Member regarding the timescale between placements as he was aware of a Foster Carer that had been waiting 7 months for a child. The Officer responded that there was usually very little time between placements due to the demand. She stated that she was not aware of the Carer the Member had referred to however with further information she would be happy to investigate.


In response to a question relating to whether Carers were required to take Mandatory Training after becoming a Carer, the Officer explained that training was carried out every 3 years in relation to drugs, sexual exploitation and trafficking etc., as it was felt that Carers needed to be well educated in these fields. It was noted that there was also the need to offer evening and weekend training to assist those Carers who were unable to attend during the day due to work commitments.

A Member referred to the indication that Training was optional with only 23 Carers having Safeguarding Training; he asked if there was capacity to train all Carers in order to meet the legal requirements. The Officer stated that the mandatory training was carried out by the Safeguarding Board on the Authority's behalf and whilst this was carried out on a monthly basis the demand to attend was considerably challenging, therefore the Authority was looking at whether there were ways of utilising staff's own skills and resources to meet training needs as and when required. The Member asked if the Committee could receive an update regarding the training, however, the Chair assured the Member that it would be monitored within the Action Plan.


A question was asked in relation to 2.4 of the report regarding - 'The Fostering Panel taking into account information passed to it to ensure that children were safeguarded' - and whether this indicated that there had been an issue where information had previously been overlooked. The Officer explained that there had been a case that had been questioned but had subsequently proved to be unsubstantiated and assured Members that at no time were there any safeguarding issues, the problem was around the information provided had been unclear and the Fostering Panel had not queried it.

Our Findings

A Member referred to page 42 of the report and requested to know that when a child was due to be placed by an Agency were assurances made that they were being placed with suitable families. The Officer responded that referrals originated from the Child Locality Team where they would have been agreed and signed off by the Senior Manager. Placements subsequently commenced with a 'Match Meeting' being held, which is a multi-agency meeting with all parties involved. It was noted that in the case of emergency placements the Match Meetings could be carried out virtually.

How we Undertook this Inspection

A Member raised a question in relation to the poor return of questionnaires that had been sent out and the Officer stated that questionnaires had never proved successful and there had always been a poor return which could be due to the fact that not everyone was able to access the questionnaire electronically, and it clearly showed that Inspectors meeting and speaking to Carers face to face had proved far more effective and successful.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- That the Social Services Scrutiny Committee endorses the CIW Report and recommendations made, and support the recommendation that an Action Plan be developed and taken forward.

Report (151K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (31K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Children's Services which was presented to update Members on the successful roll out of the Welsh Government's Childcare Offer in Blaenau Gwent and the progress to date made on hosting Torfaen County Borough Council's Childcare Offer.

The Corporate Director of Social Services spoke to the report and highlighted the Purpose of the Report as well as the Scope and Background.

Scope and Background

A Member asked if progression had been made with Torfaen and whether it was felt that the money from Welsh Government would be sufficient to cover all necessary costs. The Corporate Director stated that there had been definite progression with a firm commitment on both sides for the implementation of this offer and he was confident that a Service Level Agreement would be in place within a few weeks, currently awaiting sign off by Torfaen CBC's Legal Department. He continued that in terms of the funding, there had been substantial negotiations held with Welsh Government and it was felt that the amount allocated had been sufficient to deliver the offer.

Reference was made to 2.8 of the report in relation to 57 childcare providers in Blaenau Gwent and 3 from out of County; the Officer explained that the option was available for recipients to choose out of county providers should they wish to do so.

A question was asked on 2.10 of the report as to whether Blaenau Gwent had the capacity to deliver the service with Torfaen without it impacting on the service Blaenau Gwent currently provided. The Officer said that he was confident that there would be no impact and that in fact a larger team had been developed with staff already in place.

A Member asked if it was felt that the offer would hit the most deprived in Blaenau Gwent. The Officer explained that the offer was for all individuals that worked over 16 hours a week and had 3 to 4 year old pre-school children, therefore giving them the opportunity of full time employment and reducing the risk of poverty.

Thinking for the Long Term (forward planning)

The Officer explained that attempts were being made to create an electronic process where HMRC would be eligible to access all individual information by 2020 and all applications across Wales would be made through this process. A Member welcomed this and asked whether the process would be means tested. The Officer stated that there was no limit on earnings and it was open to everyone.

Another Member asked if evidence was available of the number of people that had returned to work; and also, of the 46 providers had there been evidence of more staff being recruited. The Officer confirmed that there was evidence of providers taking on more staff as well as evidence that as a result of the Offer parents had returned to work. The Officer undertook to provide a breakdown of the above in future progress reports.

Congratulations were expressed to the Department on the success of the pilot programme and taking forward the Torfaen CBC Offer, it was hoped that the impact would prove positive with better results being achieved in relation to standards in education.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and Option 3.1 be endorsed namely:

- That Members note the swift and efficient progress made since April, 2018 to enable Blaenau Gwent to

maximise this opportunity and host the offer for Torfaen County Borough Council thus rolling out knowledge and expertise of Blaenau Gwent staff and creating extra jobs for Blaenau Gwent and bringing in extra funding opportunities and collaborative working opportunities for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council.