Achieving for Children

Board meeting 11 February 2020

The Achieving for Children (AfC) Board of Directors met on 11 February 2020. The following substantive items were considered:

Update on structure

The Board were presented with a report on the 12 month interim structure following the Managing Director’s move to the Director of Children’s Services role. The Board discussed the main functions held previously by the MD, where they now sit and who now holds the risk. The Board asked the COO to map out the statutory functions and refer to the Companies House Act to identify what needs to be in place. Capacity of officers was discussed and this would be monitored.

Chief Operating Officer report

The Board were informed that, following the decision of Richmond and Kingston to recommission AfC for a further five years, work is underway to update the contract. There are key parts of the contract to review and a schedule of changes will be provided to the Board.

The Board noted the key points on the Dashboard around the turnover rate of staff which is having an impact on budget due to the employment of agency staff; the lack of capacity to deal with the increase in, and the complexity of, subject access requests and a review to be undertaken of the mechanisms to report on satisfaction of parents and children.

The Board noted the challenge in managing the budgets in social care across the three Councils and in the high needs budgets in Kingston and Richmond. They noted that concerns around the deficit recovery plans were shared with the DfE and some change is legislation is expected.

Budget 2020/21

The Board recognised the budget as challenging and the risks at not meeting the savings targets and being able to deliver services within budget. It was noted that although some growth has been agreed by the Councils, not all has and there are large savings targets for the year.

2019/20 financial savings programme

An interim appointment has been made to the post of Head of Home to School Transport who, as part of the role, will progress with the work of meeting the SEND transport savings target and promoting the bursary scheme. It was noted that Kingston SEND transport had been brought in-house to AfC.

It was agreed that future meetings would focus on the red and material amber RAGs over an agreed value in order to capture emerging risks on the ambers.

Director of Children’s Services updates

The Board noted that RBWM had received a Good rating at the recent ILACS inspection. The Board recorded their congratulation to the teams in RBWM. The report, when it is published at the end of February, will show strengths in early help, leadership and management, understanding and good knowledge of the children and staff’s positivity about working in RBWM.

RBWM also had their SEND inspection re-visit which showed significant progress in all but 2 areas. The action plan has been submitted to the DfE which is expected to result in a monitoring visit in 6 months.

The Board were informed that the Ombudsman report on the three Richmond complaints on EHCP plans from 2016 and 2017 was published on 14 January. The Ombudsman found fault leading to injustice around three areas. In order to determine if there is systemic failing, an audit of 1,490 plans by external auditors is currently taking place. Richmond have also commissioned the SW London Partnership to undertake a current process audit to ensure new cases are coming into a good system. This will take place over several days.

Sufficiency strategy recruitment and management

The Board received a report from the Associate Director for Provider Services presenting two main options for the Independent Fostering Agency. These two options are to continue to manage the IFA as it currently is or to make it more independent and commercial. It was noted that recruitment of foster carers continues to be a challenge.

The Board requested that a business case on the two models be brought to the Board at a later meeting.

Achieving for Children