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25 August 2020

The Achieving for Children (AfC) Board of Directors met on 25 August 2020. The following substantive items were considered:

Board Skills Audit

The Board welcomed the plan to review the skills set of the Board members with job profiles being completed, identifying skills needed and a plan to develop these over the next year. Suggestions for ensuring equality and diversity at Board meetings were welcomed.

Directors of Children’s Services updates

Key points for Windsor and Maidenhead included:

  • More of a financial challenge for the Council this year, predominantly through loss of income for things such as parking and leisure. Children’s Services, along with all departments in the Council are to look at reductions in funding. Options are being drawn up along with risk assessments and options will be submitted to the Council.
  • The DCS reported that a four day small authority youth offending service inspection is taking place.
  • Retention of social workers remains a challenge.
  • It was noted that there is an increase in child protection work with referrals increasing sharply.

Key points for Kingston and Richmond included:

  • The Board were informed that the Richmond Education, Health and Care plans review was completed in May.
  • An increase in need for services, particularly around domestic violence, children under one year old and unborn babies, children’s behavioural issues and mental health. Officers are planning for an increase in workload over the next 18 to 24 months.
  • All schools are expected to open fully although the number of pupils returning is not known.

Independent Fostering Agency

  • The Board noted that the IFA is now looking at the third stage of its development and will be producing a strategy/business plan which will look at further development of the IFA.
  • Carers have reported that training and workforce support are particularly good and AfC still remains an ethical employer to foster carers.

Workforce Annual Report

The Board noted the secondment of a recruitment champion was showing significant success particularly around recruiting specialist and professional staff, but the challenge of recruitment is both a local and national issue. Retention also remains a challenge with a high turnover of the workforce, but this is being addressed.

The Board heard that AfC now has an equality, diversity and inclusion board.

AfC’s apprenticeship scheme now includes opportunities for specialist roles in occupational health and social work.

Chief Operating Officer Report

The Board was assured to hear that the organisation continues to show a good level of resilience in dealing with COVID restrictions with all services still delivering and reduced levels of staff turnover and sickness absence.

The Board agreed that leadership capacity needed to be revisited to ensure sufficient resources are available at strategic level. There is currently lack of capacity to drive income generation which will help towards savings targets.

The Board’s attention was drawn to the Action for Change pyramid which was produced following a staff survey about how AfC should respond to the Black Lives Matter movement from which an action plan has been drawn up.