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4 February 2022

The Board began the meeting by indicating what they would like to have a positive influence on this year. 

The Board collectively discussed their concerns with inflation and costs going up, pressures on recruiting and retaining professionally qualified staff within the workforce; there is now growth in the budget for AfC to become an employer of choice in a competitive market place. 

Supporting AfC’s digital transformation journey with lots of changes coming up over the next few years implementing new technologies, supporting this with engagement with our young people and families as well as the workforce. 

Continued positive partnership working between AFC and adult services bringing some ideas across to AFC and exploring the learnings. 

More engagement with our young people to hear their voices. 

The board discussed how to work more effectively with the voluntary and community sector.

There have been some interesting conversations that have taken place recently with grant funded providers with some big organisations; there are opportunities to be part of our journey.

Updates from Board members including safeguarding update

Jeremy DeSouza attended the quarterly safeguarding meeting; there was a good positive engagement from members and a good understanding of the issues. Safeguarding performance for all boroughs was very comprehensive. Directors presenting on performance had clear actions around areas of performance that needed to improve. The Board noted that assurances come through KPIs, DCS reports but also want to be able to influence issues in the whole system, especially with what has been happening in the news of late. Agreed that a proposal would be put forward as to what is appropriate to come to the AfC Board to look at collectively to ensure that the AfC Board have the right assurances i.e around safeguarding.

Nikki Craig attended RBWM Youth Council and again the young people want to be more engaged, involved and give their input. A proposal to have wider conversations about appropriateness of sharing a forward plan with the young people and their involvement will be brought to the next Board.

Charlotte Rohan updated the Board members on her attendance at the last business development working group meeting with discussions around improving the website with the right information, and for the board to engage in networking.

Director of Children’s Services updates (RBWM)

  • The Education Paper being an extensive report that has been scrutinised by RBWM scrutiny panel and endorsed by the cabinet which sets out progress that's been measured during the pandemic, issues with individual children living with disadvantage and or anxieties due to the pandemic, increasing but relatively small number of children struggling to stick with education.
  • Social Care - Safeguarding quarterly review has seen an increasing number of contacts to the front door that are resulting in a section 47 investigation.
  • Budget at Council - significant growth to enable growth of recruitment of social workers which will start to bring down caseloads.
  • Business Service development - focus this year on moving IT platforms.

Chief Operating and Finance Officer update

Key points covered: 

  • Quarter 3 finance update which has not dramatically changed since the previous board meetings; significant pressures across the three boroughs continue - overspend, EHCP plans and complexity of EHCP plans, step up in complexity of needs of young people coming into care, national inflation increases, increase in costs of placements and shortfall of specialist placements.
  • Board Assurance Framework - recruitment and retention executive concern has escalated as there is impact on services and finances. 
  • Covid - moved to new normal on the recovery rainbow.
  • External Auditors - now appointed and confident the service they will provide will meet AfC’s needs.
  • New recruitment campaign with members of staff talking about their roles and working in AfC.

Quarterly Business Plan and project update

An officer provided an update for Quarter 3 of AfC’s Business Plan and Projects - currently 84 projects are being monitored with 41.6% completed; 48.8% on track to complete and 8.3% not on target. 

AfC Budget and AfC Business Plan

Budgets and the 5 year business plan was discussed in detail. Board members raised questions and all were answered satisfactorily. The Board agreed to approve the budget and the business plan.

ICT Investment

Officers gave the board an overview of the AfC digital world infrastructure and IT arrangements and business systems. The Board were updated that this investment plan is for Kingston and Richmond; Windsor and Maidenhead is currently being worked on.