Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Children's Services and Safeguarding)
Tuesday 22nd September, 2020 2.00 pm

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Debbie Campbell,  Senior Democratic Services Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Ms. K. Christie, Healthwatch; Mrs. S. Cain, Independent Advisory Member; and Mr. S. Harrison, Church Diocesan Representative.

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are requested at a meeting where a disclosable pecuniary interest or personal interest arises, which is not already included in their Register of Members' Interests, todeclare any interests that relate to an item on the agenda.

 

Where a Member discloses a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, he/she must withdraw from the meeting room, including from the public gallery, during the whole consideration of any item of business in which he/she has an interest, except where he/she is permitted to remain as a result of a grant of a dispensation.

 

Where a Member discloses a personal interest he/she must seek advice from the Monitoring Officer or staff member representing the Monitoring Officer to determine whether the Member should withdraw from the meeting room, including from the public gallery, during the whole consideration of any item of business in which he/she has an interest or whether the Member can remain in the meeting or remain in the meeting and vote on the relevant decision.

 

Minutes:

No declarations of any disclosable pecuniary interests or personal interests were received.

 

3.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2020, be confirmed as a correct record.

 

4.

Covid-19 Response pdf icon PDF 705 KB

To receive a presentation from the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Vicky Buchanan, Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education, on the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

Ms. Buchanan provided information on the following in relation to the Council’s response and activity:

 

·       Following the announcement of lockdown on 23 March 2020 the Council agreed a set of principles to support the most vulnerable; to work alongside partner agencies and businesses; communicate with communities; and to planning for recovery;

·       Governance arrangements at the start of the pandemic;

·       Immediate Council response;

·       Sefton Covid-19 statistics;

·       Support for residents and communities and the Council’s workforce;

·       Economic impacts and the starting point for recovery;

·       Core objectives for recovery planning;

·       Strategic approach to recovery; and

·       Recovery planning progress update.

 

Ms. Buchanan concluded by indicating that the unprecedented worldwide pandemic created a most complex set of circumstances; that the Council workforce was a credit and that the Council was able to operate a significant number of services and for staff to work agile during this time; that partnership working was very strong and enhanced relationships were established with all partners including schools; that the Council was in a strong position going forward in terms of recovery but needed to ensure it received financial backing; and that tragically, significant numbers of local people had died and families suffered loss.

 

Laura Knights, Head of Children’s Care, updated the Committee on activity and response in relation to Children’s Social Care, indicating that the service had continued to support children and families; that virtual visits, some doorstep visits and the resumption of face-to-face visits since July 2020 had taken place; and that close work with schools had taken place, with increased demand since schools had resumed.

 

Tricia Davies, Interim Head of Education, updated the Committee on activity and response in relation to Education, indicating that weekly meetings had taken place throughout the pandemic with a wide range of officers from the Council, plus health partners; that risk assessments of schools had taken place; that school attendance had been high at the commencement of the Autumn term; that close partnership working took place with input from Public Health and the Department for Education health-line; and that a blended learning approach was being adopted.

 

Members of the Committee asked questions/commented on the following issues:

 

·       Attendance and absence levels since the commencement of the Autumn term, and action taken in relation to both reassuring parents/carers and identifying any vulnerable children.

·       The risk of pupils missing their education if they were sent home following a positive Covid-19 test, and actions undertaken to mitigate such risks.

·       Circumstances under which pupils could be advised to remain at home.

·       Concerns that pupils could miss their education whilst waiting to obtain a test through the Test and Trace Service.

·       Support for schools and families where positive tests were identified.

·       Support for children, schools and families where pupils had medical conditions that mimicked the symptoms of Covid-19.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the presentation be noted, and Ms. Buchanan be thanked for her informative presentation.

 

5.

SEND Continuous Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education.

Minutes:

Further to Minute No 40 of 28 January 2020, the Committee considered the report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education, providing a brief update on progress made regarding the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Continuous Improvement Plan and updating on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on developments. Improvements had been required following the Ofsted and Care Quality Commission joint local area SEND revisit during April 2019.

 

The report set out the background to the matter; delivery of the Improvement Plan; and associated risks, such as financial sustainability, demand pressures, and stress caused by the pandemic, together with actions taken to mitigate the risks. The report concluded by indicating that good progress continued to be made in delivering the Improvement Plan; that all partners remained committed to delivering required actions; and that the impact of Covid-19 on the Improvement Plan continued to be assessed and impacts minimised.

 

Members of the Committee asked questions/raised issues on the following:

 

·       It would be useful for Members to have sight of the SEND Continuous Improvement Plan. This could be included within the next update to the Committee.

·       Healthwatch Sefton had offered support with an engagement survey that had now been shared with parents and carers.

·       The possibility of any delays within the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) pathway. This could be addressed within the next update to the Committee and raised at the SEND Continuous Improvement Board.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)      the progress made and the fact that activity on the matter continues to be prioritised during the pandemic, be noted; and

 

(2)      the intention to bring a further report to a future Committee meeting on the matter, be noted.

 

6.

Progress of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection Action Plan pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Further to Minute No. 39 of 28 January 2020, the Committee considered the report of the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education indicating that between 23 and 27 September 2019, Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), HMI Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services, (HMICFRS) and HMI Probation (HMIP), had carried out a joint inspection of the multi -agency response to abuse and neglect in Sefton. This inspection included a “deep dive” focus on the response to children’s mental health. At its meeting on 28 January 2020, this Committee had received the published letter and a presentation from the partnership in response to the inspection. The written Statement of Action was produced and submitted to Ofsted on 30 March 2020, and on 17 April 2020, correspondence was received stating that, Ofsted, the CQC, HMICFRS and HMIP had reviewed the action plan and agreed that it demonstrated an accurate understanding of the areas of priority action and findings of the joint inspection team. The purpose of the report now submitted was to update the Committee on the progress of the delivery of the Joint Targeted Area Inspection Action Plan.

 

The report set out the background to the matter; updates received from Merseyside Police, health partners, the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), the Youth Offending Team (YOT), and the Council’s Children’s Services; together with the impact of Covid-19 and actions taken to reduce adverse impacts.

 

The Joint Targeted Area Inspection Action Plan Progress Update was attached to the report.

 

Members of the Committee asked questions/raised issues on the following:

 

·       Was any additional funding available for those children affected with mental health issues as a consequence of Covid-19? Information would be sought and provided to the relevant Member, and shared with the Committee, if appropriate.

·       Provision and operation of the mental health triage car for children aged 10 to 16 within the Sefton area. Further information could be provided within the next update to the Committee.

·       The toolkit developed for schools and colleges. This could be shared with Members of the Committee.

·       Training to be delivered to the YOT Team.

·       The task and finish group working on options for early help/brief interventions.

·       Waiting times and actions required to reduce them.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)      the progress of the delivery of the action plan be noted;

 

(2)      a further report on the progress of the multi-agency partnership Joint Targeted Area Inspection Plan be requested in six months; and

 

(3)      the Executive Director of Children’s Social Care and Education be requested to:

 

(a)      investigate whether any additional funding is available for those children affected with mental health issues, as a consequence of Covid-19, and to advise the relevant Member of the Committee accordingly;

 

(b)      provide further information on the provision and operation of the mental health triage car for children aged 10 to 16 in the Sefton area, within the next update to the Committee; and

 

(c)      share the toolkit developed for schools and colleges with Members of the Committee.

 

7.

Work Programme Key Decision Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Report of the Chief Legal and Democratic Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Chief Legal and Democratic Officer, seeking the views of the Committee on the draft Work Programme for 2020/21; consideration of the potential selection of a new topic for a second Working Group review, following the completion of the current Persistent Pupil Absence Working Group; identification of any items for pre-scrutiny by the Committee from the latest Key Decision Forward Plan; and receipt of an update on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

A draft Work Programme for 2020/21 was set out at Appendix A to the report, to be considered, along with any additional items to be included and agreed, and the Terms of Reference for the Committee were set out at Appendix B to the report.

 

The report set out progress to date made by the Persistent Pupil Absence Working Group. The Working Group had been unable to meet for some time, although it was now possible for work to resume. A criteria checklist for selecting and rejecting potential topics for review was attached to the report at Appendix C.

 

There was just one Key Decision within the latest Key Decision Forward Plan, attached to the report at Appendix D, that fell under this Committee’s remit, and the Committee was invited to consider items for pre-scrutiny.

 

The report set out an update on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

Members of the Committee asked questions/raised issues on the following:

 

·       The submission of Serious Case Reviews to the Committee for consideration.

·       Consideration of the potential selection of a new topic for review at the next meeting of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

(1)      the Work Programme for 2020/21, as set out in Appendix A to the report, be approved;

 

(2)      the following item be included within the Committee’s Work Programme for 2020/21:

 

·       Consideration of information relating to Serious Case Reviews;

 

(3)      the potential selection of a new topic for a second Working Group review, be considered at the next meeting of the Committee;

 

(4)      the contents of the Key Decision Forward Plan for the period 1 October 2020 – 31 January 2021, be noted; and

 

(5)      the update on the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee be noted.