Agenda and draft minutes

Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 20 July 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Shire Hall, Warwick - Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Helen Barnsley  Democratic Services Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

General

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1(1)

Apologies

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Minutes:

Apologies were received from:

 

Councillor Yousef Dahmash

Councillor Barbara Brown

Councillor Pete Gilbert

Councillor Justin Kerridge

Mr John McRoberts

1(2)

Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Minutes:

No declarations of pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest were made.

1(3)

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 314 KB

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Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2021 were agreed as an accurate record.

2.

Public Speaking

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Minutes:

There were no public speakers at the meeting.

3.

Question Time

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3(1)

Question to Cabinet Portfolio Holders

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting are available for members of the Children & Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee to put questions to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Education and Learning and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services.

 

The work programme attached lists any briefings circulated to the Committee since the last meeting and any items listed in the Council’s Forward Plan for decision by Cabinet or individual Cabinet Portfolio Holders over the coming months.

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Minutes:

Councillor Jerry Roodhouse (Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group and Chair of meeting) asked Councillor Jeff Morgan (Portfolio Holder for Children, Families and Education) whether, as part of the development of the outdoor education strategy, consideration will be given to the creation of a bursary scheme that will allow young people from less affluent households to benefit from outdoor education opportunities.

 

Councillor Jeff Morgan replied stated that this is an interesting idea that will sit alongside other ideas that work on the strategy will consider. The Council, he stated, is keen to assist young people to enjoy the challenge and fun of outdoor education.

3(2)

Updates from Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Assistant
Directors

Cabinet Portfolio Holders and Assistant Directors are invited to provide any updates they have on issues within the remit of the Committee.

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Minutes:

The committee was reminded that the OFSTED SEND inspection had been completed and that a report is now awaited.

4.

Youth Justice Plan 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

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Minutes:

The Chair welcomed John Coleman (Assistant Director, Children and Families) and Sally Nash (Service Manager, Youth Justice) to the meeting.

 

Sally Nash opened by explaining that whilst the presentation of the Youth Justice Plan to committee is a routine matter it is also of importance. Youth Justice is enshrined in statute and it is a condition of the Youth Justice Board that in order for Youth Justice Services to receive their funding they must produce an annual plan. The plan must be acceptable to the Board and demonstrate compatibility to the Council’s corporate aims and objectives. The plan is owned by the Youth Justice Partnership and by the Chief Officer Board. The overall objectives of the Youth Justice Service are to provide the safest environment as possible and to help young people to be as safe as possible. Youth offending is not a popular topic. Nevertheless, the service has the confidence of the courts and has been able to continue to maintain contact with the courts and young people throughout the Pandemic.

 

The committee was informed of a number of challenges.

 

1) Serious youth violence   Serious youth violence has grown. It now serves as a golden thread through the work of the Safer Warwickshire Partnership. The overall level of youth violence has not escalated although there have been a number of high-profile cases.

 

2) Engagement by young people in education, training and employment   The Pandemic has had a serious negative impact on vulnerable young people. School age children who do not have proactive parents have fallen behind on their education. It has been found necessary to realign resources to secure specialist support for these young people.

 

Whilst case-loads through courts have dropped owing to the Pandemic case loads generally have remained static.

 

Councillor Jill Simpson-Vince asked about out of court disposals. These were first time appearances but is it a case of “three strikes and you’re in court”? How many of the first offenders are likely to be seen again?

 

In response the committee was informed that out of court disposal is a multi-agency approach. Decisions regarding when a young person should be required to attend court rest with the police. With Youth Conditional Cautions if a young person does not comply then they will be required to attend court. It was stressed that out of court disposals are a serious sanction. It is not a case of young people “getting away with it” but the aim of the legislation is to keep children out of the court system. Sometimes children do come back into the system, but it remains preferable to manage them away from the courts if possible.

 

Councillor Marian Humphries welcomed that children are put first adding that it is important to identify and address the reasons behind a child’s behaviour. In response Sally Nash reminded members that these young people are children first and offenders second. There are no excuses for bad behaviour, but it should be recognised that they are children. School, she added, teach  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Update on Scrutiny Review pdf icon PDF 229 KB

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Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Nic Vine (Strategy and Commissioning manager – Legal and Democratic) to the meeting. The key elements of the published report were set out to the committee. It was explained that a consultant had been commissioned to undertake the review and that her findings had been very positive. A series of recommendations had been developed for how scrutiny could be improved at the County Council.

 

Councillor Jerry Roodhouse suggested that scrutiny should have a closer alignment to data and performance.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Committee notes the findings of the independent review into Overview and Scrutiny.

6.

Year End Council Plan 2020-2025 Quarterly Progress Report (April 2020 to March 2021) pdf icon PDF 982 KB

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Minutes:

John Coleman explained that the Council is seeking to develop a one data set approach which will be more accessible to people.

 

A series of highlights were identified.

 

1. Early Help. The Pandemic has led to a 40% increase in early help provision. More family support workers have needed to be recruited. The main focus has been on mental health support, education and reintegration.

 

2. An increase in the number of children in care. There has bee a significant increase in the number on non-accompanied child asylum seekers in Warwickshire.

 

3. Disadvantaged children. It is recognised that there is more work to be undertaken with disadvantaged children who are under-achieving. A virtual head teacher role is to be created to support children who are in need. The focus wil be on support for the most disadvantaged.

 

Some pressure areas were highlighted.

 

1. Children in care continue to provide pressure. There is a need to progress permanency plans.

 

2. Mental Health issues. Work is continuing with the Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust although this slowed during the Pandemic.

 

Councillor Brian Hammersley sought assurance that the Council has sufficient capacity to manage its children in care portfolio. John Coleman stated that the Council does have capacity. The biggest issue is with placements. The Family Therapy Team helps to provide stability in placements. There remains a significant pressure for foster carers. The cost of placements has increased during the Pandemic to £3200 per week for a placement in a residential home. To assist in addressing this the Council is investing in the construction of three care homes in addition to the one that is close to completion in Stratford-upon-Avon.

 

Councillor Jeff Morgan stated that the Council has been doing a good job in difficult circumstances. There remain concerns over CAMHS. The Council is keen to increase the number of domestic placements and it will be a major step forward when the new children’s home in Stratford is opened.

 

The Council is working in partnership with Kent County Council to assist with the accommodation of unaccompanied child asylum seekers. The Council does get financial support with this. It is a topical issue with the government recently announcing additional resources for it. Support is extending beyond that for Syrian refugees to those from other countries such as Afghanistan.

 

It is difficult to keep track of outcomes for unaccompanied asylum seekers. Some children, particularly those from Asia, do go missing. Within around five days they will have been picked up by human traffickers. Working with the police these young people are usually found in other parts of the county. The key is to get them safely into foster placements before they can be taken. Young asylum seekers are often keen to engage in the education process. This presents its own challenges as there is usually a language barrier to overcome. The Council is keen to work with local colleges to provide long term courses as opposed to the short ones currently offered to asylum seekers. In  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Work Programme 2021 - 2022 pdf icon PDF 371 KB

To consider the enclosed work programme, updated following the meeting of the Chair and Group Spokespersons.

 

The programme includes an update from the Forward Plan showing items relevant to the remit of this Committee.

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Minutes:

The work programme for the committee was agreed.

8.

Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting has been scheduled for 28 September 2021 at 10am.

 

The meeting will be held at Shire Hall Warwick.

 

Meetings for 2021/2022 have been scheduled as follows –

 

·         28 September 2021

·         October 2021 (date tbc)

·         16 November 2021

·         8 February 2022

·         11 April 2022

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Minutes:

It was noted that a special meeting of the committee was to be held on Tuesday 27 July 2021 to consider a call-in.

9.

Minutes Containing Confidential or Exempt Information

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

That members of the public be excluded from the meeting for the items mentioned below on the grounds that their presence would involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

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Minutes:

Resolved:

 

That members of the public be excluded from the meeting for the items mentioned below on the grounds that their presence would involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

10.

Restricted Minutes from the previous meeting (23.02.2021)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The restricted minutes of the meeting held on 23 February 2021 were agreed as an accurate record.