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5 May 2020

The Achieving for Children (AfC) Board of Directors met on 5 May 2020. The following substantive items were considered:

Updates from last meeting

The following updates from the previous meeting were received:

The RBWM Director of Children’s Services gave the Board the headlines from the Cabinet Report on the community hub proposal. He reported that Cabinet had made the decision to agree the recommendations to change the delivery model. The new model will require a significant restructuring activity and a consultation with staff will start when appropriate. The DCS confirmed that his team have a system for measuring impact of interventions and the impact of the 1:1 sessions. He also confirmed that the police were happy that this would mean a more responsive and flexible service. Voluntary groups, church groups etc. are already responsible for the monitoring of safeguarding issues and the safeguarding partnership is working to ensure there is more information available for any group who needs it.

It was noted that, following the Board effectiveness review, the Board would draw up an action plan and meet to look at roles and accountabilities going forward and provide action plan recommendations to the Audit and Risk Committee on 15 June 2020.

Following discussions with the Councils, it was agreed that:

Sian Wicks to become interim Chair of the Board
Catherine Jervis would continue to be Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee
Jane Spencer would extend her term of office
Lucy Kourpas continues as Interim Chief Operating Officer
The Council appointed representatives from the three Councils will remain the same.

Audit and Risk Committee feedback

The Board noted the good relationship between Internal Audit and AfC in Richmond and Kingston and work is being done to have the same visibility of RBWM audits to give the Committee more assurance. The new audit recommendation tracker has been developed to track progress on the recommendations.

The Board’s responsibilities had been mapped and this has given A&R Committee some assurance but it was recognised there is a need to do further work on specific duties. One of the recommendations of the effectiveness review is a review of the membership of Audit and Risk and this is taking place.

Business continuity and response to COVID-19 restrictions

The Board noted that the organisation has proved to be quite resilient with services across AfC pulling together to ensure services continue as far as possible, particularly those for vulnerable clients.

Business continuity plans were already available and an exercise was undertaken to include COVID specifics. It was confirmed that all levels of emergency planning are in place. The COO reported that all critical activity plans had been brought into one document with risk analyses taking place at all levels in the organisation.

The COO confirmed that AfC are not yet aware of any specific groups of staff who have been more affected by COVID-19 but the possibility that they may be more at risk will need to be taken into account when looking at groups for the return to work plan. There is a need to consider the balance of staff wanting to get back to more normal working, priority services and what is safe.
A risk assessment for BME is available from the Chair of the Board if required.

The Board noted that it was recognised that some of the staff who are currently shielded may need to remain at home longer and this will be managed on an individual basis. Staff shielding levels had not had a significant impact on service delivery as staff were able to work from home. It is recognised, however, that shielded staff may feel more of an impact on their mental health and support is being put in place for these staff. It was reported that there are currently a low number of known cases in the workforce and this low number had not had an impact on service delivery. Temporary changes to workplace policies and procedures had been made and these were circulated for information with the agenda.

The Board noted the learning that would be taken away from the changes including embracing the positives such as the adoption of virtual solutions where it has been successful particularly where young people have engaged more with their services and recognising the areas where this has been more difficult.

The Board acknowledged that business continuity arrangements are good, there is a well-defined emergency response, daily data is available, risks are identified and the service is continuing to support staff and families. The AfC Recovery Plan will be circulated to the Board when ready.