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looked after children scrutiny reviews
20-07-2010, 03:02 PM
Post: #1
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Jessica,
I worked on one in Camden in 2000 that went very well. Sent a questionnaire to all looked after children and met with foster carers to get their views. The two most tangible outcomes that have stuck in my mind were a change in procedure so that social workers gave a blanket permission for school trips so that foster carers could sign permission slips for individual trips - this recommendation was in response to hearing from looked after children who had missed out because they couldn't find the SW in time to sign. Second outcome was in response to hearing from foster carers of difficulty getting school places and in some cases having to take children to more than one school. The admissions criteria were changed in response to the scrutiny rec so that looked after children were given priority - alongside or before SEN.

On e of the reasons it worked so well was that members took their role as corporate parents very seriously and viewed /judged services as though they were actual parents, always had question in mind "is it good enough for our children". Had advice from Voice of the Child in Care as well which was helpful.

I couldn't find the report in the CFPS library but it is still on Camden's website.

I would be interested in joining the reference group,
Julia.
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21-07-2010, 01:40 PM
Post: #2
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Jessica,

Is it just reviews that you are looking for? We did have specialist scrutiny group which monitored Corporate Parenting and as part of their work they met quarterly with young people to talk about various issues. We tended to plan the agendas around issues that the young people wanted to raise rather than trying to get them to talk about things the members thought were important but that the young people weren't really interested in or didn't have any problems with.

Members would then follow up the young people's issues with officers to identify whether anything could be done. Sometimes no action could be taken e.g. where young people wanted things that were not in their best interests, or when budgets would not allow, but members could at least explore any possible solutions. Where solutions were identified, scrutiny members would feed this back to the young people so that they knew what was going to happen and would monitor progress with officers to make sure the agreed actions were carried out.

We have had quite a few successes through this group - a few years ago the Care Leavers Grant (given to all young people leaving care to buy things for setting up home when they left care) was increased from £750 to £1000 as young people said £750 wasn't enough, members agreed and although officers were initially reluctant, comparison with other authorities showed that our grant level was low, so it was agreed to increase it. Most recently, young people raised concerns about taxi usage. Members were especially concerned when they were told that children as young as 5 were travelling alone in taxis and as a result of the meeting this was immediately stopped. Various other issues relating to taxis have also been improved since the scrutiny meeeting.

Unfortunately as part of recent changes to scrutiny this group no longer exists, but we hope to be able to retain at least the meetings with young people as we have had such positive results in the past.

Hope this is useful.

Sarah
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21-07-2010, 02:20 PM
Post: #3
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
I am just starting a scrutiny review on how our Council discharges its role as a corporate parent and plans to adapt its role in the light of declining budgets so am very intested in this subject. I have looked at a number of reviews on the subject already, although I have not looked at the Camden one yet (I will now!). At the very least, I would be interested in tracking the progress of this piece of work. I would also be happy to assist in the reference group. Whilst I have not actually completed a piece of work yet in this area, my experience of being in the midst of doing one may have some relevance.
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21-07-2010, 02:59 PM
Post: #4
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
The Council's role as "corporate parents" has been a been a key driver for Scrutiny in Newport , shaping the Forum's workload at key intervals. Members visited one of our children's homes to see for themselves the support given to Looked after Children and discuss the challenges of working within such an environment with staff on the ground.

Following the visit, members discussed ways in which elected members could discharge their role as corporate parents. The Forum made a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening this role. These included a request that the issues debated by all members of the Council and that members' Rota visits be reinstated at the earliest opportunity. We also asked Heads of Service to identify opportunities for training or apprenticeships for young people within their respective service areas and supported proposal to identify properties for training young people to support themselves once out of care.

In response to these recommendations the Cabinet Member asked the Scrutiny Forum to host a seminar for all members on corporate parenting (which took place in May 2009). The Rota Visits are to be reinstated and a training day was arranged for relevant Heads of Service to help identify training opportunities within their areas. The full response of the Cabinet Member to the Forum's findings was reported back to the Forum so that progress could be monitored.

The Forum's deliberations also benefited from external, independent perspective. Members have considered the results of external inspection reports in relation to fostering and childrens homes. Members were pleased to note that these reports were generally favourable and discussed actions being put in place to address issues arising
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22-07-2010, 07:27 AM
Post: #5
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Our Children's Trust Scrutiny Panel is looking to scrutinise CLA attainment in our next cycle. This should take place between October and November/early December so we may be able to feed some information in if all goes to the planned timescale. We are looking to ensure at least one of our young people reps (6 in total) on the panel is a CLA (currently not the case), and our 'field visits' always involve discussion with service users and parents. Will update you when I can.
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23-07-2010, 09:45 AM
Post: #6
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Hi Jessica

We undertook a review about three years ago and as part of that we had the LAC Board work with the panel throughout to scrutinise along with members. They also helped form the recommendations and members attended their board as well. Panel members also visited care leavers in their leaving care flats to discuss their experiences.
We've been tracking the recommendations since and two major outcomes have been a review and increase of the leaving care grant and the development of a LAC/care leaver drop in centre for the borough.

Happy to be part of the group and the review can be found on your database or at www.scrutiny.sandwell.gov.uk

Thanks, Adam
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27-07-2010, 04:09 PM
Post: #7
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Jessica Crowe Wrote:CfPS is being commissioned by Local Government Improvement & Development (the organisation formerly known as IDeA) to produce a guide on scrutiny of issues affecting children looked after by the council/. There are many reviews on the subject in the library, but if any colleagues carried out a review that they feel went particularly well, I'd be interested to hear about it and let me know if it's in the library so we can dig it out. In particular:
  • did the review involve looked after children directly?
  • did it consider wider issues, not purely the services provided from within Children's Services?
  • did it have strong and tangible outcomes?
  • what made it work well (or not so well)?

If anyone would be interested in joining a small reference group for the piece of work I'd also be grateful to know. The plan would be to meet once (in early / mid Sept in London) and comment on 1 or 2 drafts electronically thereafter. We are aiming to complete by the end of November.

Thanks all

Jessica

I've supported two scrutiny reviews on corporate parenting arrangments in Rotherham, both of which involved looked after children (albeit the second review had more limited involvement). The second review (recently completed) examined
  • the current arrangements for corporate parenting in Rotherham and how these measured against the 'Care Matters' agenda;
  • if our arrangements were in line with best practice from other local authorities and other national bodies;
  • the recommendations of 2005 scrutiny review into the 'Role of Councillors as Corporate Parents', to see whether they were relevant and 'fit for purpose'

The review was mindful that the Authority's Corporate Parenting arrangements should contribute to improved and sustainable outcomes for looked after children and their families. These arrangements should bring together the relevant agencies to ensure that timely decisions are made about the care and educations of the Borough's most vulnerable children.

All the recommendations from the second review have been accepted and are in the process of implementation. I'd be happy to be part of any reference group.

Caroline Webb
Senior Scrutiny Adviser
RMBC

01709 822765
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29-07-2010, 10:36 AM
Post: #8
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Apologies for the late posting, we have been busy with our next scrutiny review with looked after children - improving education and employability.
Cheshire West and Chester in 2009/10 undertook a scrutiny review - support to looked after children and from the findings a report entitled "our children matter - 39 steps to bringing normality into their lives" was developed. This review examined what it was like to be a child in care and what issues/barriers they faced in their lives. The main stakeholders for the review were a group of looked after young people aged 10 - 17. The final report was produced as a result of what the young people had told us and then 39 recommendations were developed to help bring normality into their lives. The Our Children Matter report can be found on the CfPS Library.
Cheshire West and Chester Council was delighted when its hard work and efforts on its Our Children matter scrutiny review, were recognised at this years scrutiny awards, when they won the Innovation category. We are more than happy to be part reference group and look forward to hearing from you.
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29-07-2010, 10:36 AM
Post: #9
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Apologies for the late posting, we have been busy with our next scrutiny review with looked after children - improving education and employability.
Cheshire West and Chester in 2009/10 undertook a scrutiny review - support to looked after children and from the findings a report entitled "our children matter - 39 steps to bringing normality into their lives" was developed. This review examined what it was like to be a child in care and what issues/barriers they faced in their lives. The main stakeholders for the review were a group of looked after young people aged 10 - 17. The final report was produced as a result of what the young people had told us and then 39 recommendations were developed to help bring normality into their lives. The Our Children Matter report can be found on the CfPS Library or Cheshire West and Chester Council's web site www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=3440
Cheshire West and Chester Council was delighted when its hard work and efforts on its Our Children matter scrutiny review, were recognised at this years scrutiny awards, when they won the Innovation category. We are more than happy to be part reference group and look forward to hearing from you.
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29-07-2010, 11:40 AM
Post: #10
RE: looked after children scrutiny reviews
Thanks for all your replies and information everyone, very helpful.

For those who have agreed to take part in the ref group I will be in touch shortly to canvass dates in Sept.

Best

Jessica
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