The Committee considered a report of the Group Director, Children reviewing the work of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Board for 2009/10 and identifying any areas of concern or possible work streams. The Committee thanked Councillor Mick Bray and other Councillors for their work on the Advisory Board and Shaun Banks, Committee Officer, for his support in producing this report..
As Chair of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Board, Councillor Mick Bray informed the Committee that as part of the Council’s commitment to integrate and improve working practices, it had been agreed that during the Municipal Year 2009/10, various areas were to be considered. The Committee was advised that:
· The Corporate Parenting Advisory Board regularly met representatives of the Children in Care Council during the year and work would be on-going to regularise processes.
· An update regarding National Indicator 71 – Missing from Home or Care would be presented to the Committee at a future meeting.
· The Care Leavers Service was launched in June 2009 and that young people would continue to play a key role.
· C19 Health of Children in Care – At 92.63%, Swindon was one of the highest performing local authorities.
· N58 Mental Health of Children in Care. This new national target would focus on the mental and emotional well being of children in care.
· The number of referrals and consultations made through the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) had increased.
· Teenage Pregnancy – The Health Liaison worker for children in care continues to work with the teenage pregnancy team to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies among young women in care.
· Two successful ’Inside Out’ events were held in October 2008 and April 2009. These events were aimed to improve self esteem and promote a healthy life style for children in secondary schools.
· Ofsted had deemed the Adoption Service to be outstanding, The demand for this service continues to increase, absorbing an increasing proportion of staff time as adopters become increasingly aware of their entitlement to seek support. There are no indications that this demand would diminish in the foreseeable future.
· Vacant Posts and unallocated cases – Whilst Swindon had a continual programme of recruitment of qualified social workers and support for existing staff through workshops and action learning sets, there were continuing difficulties recruiting staff.
· Education of Children in Care – The take up of Personal Education Allowance continued to be good and staff had received feedback of the positive impact the extra support identified.
· The re-configuration of the Family Placement Team ensured a more equitable balance between the adoption and fostering function of the team.
Jean Pollard (Director Safeguarding and Corporate Parenting) advised that the Corporate Parenting Advisory Board had looked at a range of issues and would continue to be responsive and work closely with young people to identify and address issues that had been identified.
The Committee discussed the report and raised the following points:
· Challenges to recruit and retain staff. Jean Pollard confirmed that there were challenges to recruit qualified social workers and other local authorities also had difficulty in recruiting. She added that social workers obtained their qualifications in summer.
· Funding for ‘Inside Out’ events. Jean Pollard advised that there was a one-off funding provision received for this initiative. Due to budgetary constraints, she advised that further information could not be provided regarding future events.
· The challenges of providing services due to a reduction of future funding.
Resolved: That Councillors and Members of Corporate Parenting Advisory Board be thanked for their report.
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