Skip to main content

{{ root_page.title }}

23 August 2021

Report from the Chair, including voice of children and young people

Corporate Parenting Board, draft minutes of the Kingston SEND Partnership, the CiCC Newsletter and the Business Development Programme Plan had been circulated for information to the Board. The Chair reported good conversations with the CEOs, Deputy Leader and Lead Members of the Councils who recognise the hard work AfC are doing in order to deliver services. The Chair fed back that, in conversations with health, there has been a lot of praise for the support from staff and senior leadership. There are concerns in the three Councils around the increase in mental health issues for young people at Tier 3 and the length of the waiting lists for health services generally.

DCS updates

Ian Dodds highlighted the main points from his DCS report for Kingston and Richmond:

  • The Q1 safety valve arrangement claim has been submitted and the funding given.
  • The SEND inspection in Richmond had gone well. The main area highlighted for improvement is transitions. The report is due to be published in August.
  • Social care pressures are still significant due to an increase in referrals and cases not progressing out as fast as previously. Once the family court is working in a normal pattern, the cases presented to the court will get moved through the process quicker.
  • There has been a big increase in mental health referrals and the CCG have raised their thresholds resulting in more cases remaining in AfC.
  • ID is chairing a Task and Finish Group with Tonia Michaelidis, CCG, to look at three areas: mapping pathways,looking at where we can invest in earlier intervention and resource shaping.

Kevin McDaniel highlighted the main points from his DCS report for RBWM:

  • Ofsted had completed the IFA inspection and initial feedback is that it looks to be good across the Board.
  • Demand at the front door is high.
  • Recruiting health services staff continues to be a challenge.
  • Staff recruitment and retention continues to be a significant issue with a large number of posts covered by agency staff.
  • RBWM have been invited by Ofsted to be part of a pilot Joint Targeted Area inspection, looking at the impact domestic abuse on children.
  • The Town Hall in Maidenhead now has 100 desks available for AfC staff and KMcD is expecting staff to be able to return to work in sufficient numbers.
  • KMcD reported on marketing work on placements for complex cases which is happening. He explained that a bid with Slough and Bracknell had been submitted to be able to appoint someone to look at each of the three boroughs' needs and then go to the marketplace. The funding for this needs to be spent by the end of March 2022 with the procurement process starting in April 2022.

Chief Operating and Finance Officer Executive Update

Two biggest issues are Finance and Commissioning and Procurement. 

2% pay award awarded to RBWM from April 2021; Kingston and Richmond have not yet been agreed.

Children’s Home Strategy

Matthew Edwards introduced his report and took the Board through a presentation. Main key argument for having the suggested six children’s homes is the control that AfC will have when the children and young people are moved. This is beneficial for the children and young people, financially better for AfC. The therapeutic offer AfC would like to develop as a provider will give economies of scale and make it possible to build a component of therapies and create a culture of therapeutic offer. The Board discussed financial pressures, commercial aspects of selling surplus beds, risks, an opportunity to control placement costs if boroughs have children’s homes. The Board agreed in principle, depending on strategy including financial model, to continue to do further work on the proposal and look at the infrastructure and produce a clear strategy which would include a model of care and challenging behaviour.

Quarterly Business Plan and Project Update

Majority of plans are progressing well. Two new managers recruited to support the SEND Transformation Project.

Well Led Governance and Inspection Self Assessment

The Board was taken through the self evaluation for the well-led inspection. Most ratings are green and the few amber ones where it is felt AfC are not quite where they should be have actions against them. It was noted that there is unpredictability around staff recruitment which remains a challenge.

Staff wellbeing

The Board were updated on staff wellbeing from a report produced by Gill Goouch. Feedback from recent bitesize sessions on various aspects of well being have been well received. Stress and anxiety in the workplace will be the focus for the next wellbeing week. Feedback has been received that managers do not want to talk about stress and anxiety in front of staff; therefore a separate session will be arranged. This topic is also covered in the Leadership Centre of Excellence Programme.

Apprenticeship provision

An update on the apprenticeship provision ar AfC was provided to the Board members. As the young people participating in the scheme are only part way through, a further update will be available in December which will update the Board members on how well the scheme has performed.