Agenda item

Corporate Parenting Strategy 2021 - 2024

To enable pre-decision scrutiny of the Strategy before Cabinet consider at their meeting on 18 March 2021.


The Chairperson advised that this item enabled Members to carry out pre-decision scrutiny of the Strategy prior to its consideration by Cabinet on 18th March 2021.


The Chairperson welcomed Councillor Sarah Merry (Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Education, Employment and Skills) in her capacity as Chair of the Corporate Parenting Advisory Committee; Councillor Graham Hinchey (Cabinet Member for Children and Families); Deborah Driffield (Director, Children’s Services); and Jade Harrison (Operational Manager for Service Improvement and Strategy in Social Services) to the meeting.


Councillor Hinchey was invited to make a statement in which introduced the updated strategy.   It encourages Officers, Elected Members and Key Partners to work together to improve outcomes and life chances for Children Looked After and Care Leavers.  Young people have informed us as to what has been working well, what has not been working well and what aspirations they have for the future. 


The Chairperson invited questions and comments from Members.



Members sought information in relation the number of foster carers who are not in house and in respect of Care Leavers 21% of whom may be facing homelessness and 93.7% in suitable accommodation and whether there are sufficient support structures whilst they are in our care to address the homelessness issues and not being in education.


The Cabinet Member, in terms of suitable accommodation, the Right Home Right Support commissioning document outlines the various range of placements and support which will be required, including Stepping Down out of Care.  Members were advised that temporary accommodation is deemed homeless, but it is suitable and appropriate but it can be effect the figures.


The Director indicated that there are 362 children and young people living with foster carers that are not in house with the local authority.  The ratio is increasing although it is difficult to do simple ratio because things move about all the time. 



Members discussed their concerns about substance misuse becoming normalised in our society and amongst young people and whether substance misuse is an issue with children in our care.  The Director advised that substance misuse would never be the sole reason. There has been a significant increase in parental substance misuse which impacts on whether children become accommodated and looked after.  A preventative strategy is being considered for young people; one of the strands will be about substance misuse.  It should also be linked with the Adolescent Strategy which will form part of the joint recovery plan with Education.



Members queried the feedback from young people and whether the current data on improved recruitment has led to better relationships with young people.    Members were advised that it has been common issue in relation to complaints bearing in mind the difficulties in establishing a stable work force.  At the present time there are 52 agency social workers; there is far less turn over in permanent staff but a greater turnover in agency staff which means instability for a smaller number of young people. The problem does continue.  Information about the number of changes of social worker can be provided. 


If social workers to move on, a more robust handover arrangement has been implemented to ensure that next social worker that becomes involved in that case is totally familiar with the support plan going forward.  This minimised the negative impact that the change will have.



Members discussed the impact of the pandemic on vulnerable groups and whether young people placed out of area will not be disproportionally disadvantaged and any support for them will be as robust for them as it is for other groups.  Members were advised that the plan is always to move young people back into area as soon as possible, but certainly when they are 16 as there is a robust support package that can be put in place in Cardiff.  Regular monitoring of those out of the area takes place but unfortunately, a minority of young people want to stay outside of the area; it is then far more difficult as we cannot control the approach other areas take.



Members noted that 76% of Children Looked After have a Personal Education Plan and queried whether that is low; does it only apply in Cardiff or is it all Children who are Looked After. It does not appear to reach 100% and the significance of that. Members would be provided with that information in due course.


RESOLVED – That the Chairperson writes to the Cabinet Member on behalf of the Committee expressing their comments and observations during the Way Forward.


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