Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 7th July 2020 10:00am


Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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There were none at this meeting.


Minutes of the Safe & Strong Communities Select Committee meeting held on 13 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 151 KB

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RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Safe & Strong Communities Select Committee held on 13 January 2020 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Response to COVID-19 for SCC Children and Families Services pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children & Young People

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The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People introduced his report outlining the Children and Families Services response to Covid-19. He thanked all staff for their adaptability and dedication in supporting the most vulnerable children and families during the pandemic, including staff within Children and Families Services, as well as those in education and childcare.


Throughout this period over 200 pieces of new, additional and amended guidance had been received from the Department of Education (DfE), Public Health England (PHE) and other regulatory and statutory bodies. This included core statutory legislative changes to the Children and Families Act and easements to the SEND Code of Practice. All these changes had been assimilated and locally interpreted before being communicated to staff, partners, education settings and commissioned providers.


Staff commitment and resilience throughout the period had been remarkable, with circa 86% staff availability to work being maintained. A small number of staff had been shielding or were required to self-isolate, whilst 60% of staff had been available to conduct home visits. Gratitude was also shared for the work of ICT colleagues who had ensured appropriate ICT equipment and support was available for staff throughout this period which had enabled the service to continue its work.  These changes gave access and agility, enabling a shift from face to face working with families to a comprehensive digital offer. Many young people had engaged better through the use of virtual meetings than previously, and whilst there remained a need for face to face contact in some instances, the new digital approach had seen benefits.


Thanks was also given to the work of the Council’s health, safety and wellbeing team who had worked with the business support team in each district to ensure that there was sufficient and effective Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distributed for front-line practitioners from the beginning of lockdown. Staffordshire County Council’s (SCC) iCount volunteers had also provided support in a variety of ways, including the creation of PPE packs for a range of providers. Staff volunteers had also worked to ensure that the Domestic Abuse refuges across Staffordshire remained open and accessible.


Members received details of the operating model developed to address the new ways of working necessary during the pandemic lockdown.


Staffordshire schools had switched to providing remote learning for most children and young people but had remained open to support vulnerable children and the children of essential key workers. A process had been quickly established for identifying vulnerable children not in contact with their education settings, with contact made with those remaining at home to seek assurances that appropriate safeguarding and support remained in place. Data suggested that around 20% of children with a social worker attended school, with those remaining at home having been contacted regularly by their schools.


Members were pleased to note that more children were able to attend Staffordshire schools than many other authorities and that Staffordshire Schools were amongst the top performers nationally for this. Returns to the DfE indicating the number of vulnerable children  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Mick Harrison

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Members shared their memories of Mick Harrison, Assistant Director in the Families and Communities Directorate. Mick had been involved in the work of this Select Committee and Members had appreciated his knowledge and expertise. Previously working within the Police Force Mick had given many years in public service. Sadly Mick died on 2 April. He will be very sadly missed and the Chairman asked that the Select Committees condolences be sent to his family.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 257 KB

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Members considered their draft work programme 2020/21. As a result of the Covid-19 crisis two Select Committee meetings had been cancelled resulting in the following items being postponed:

·         Update on the Children’s Transformation Plan;

·         Progress with the Children’s Services Improvement Plan;

·         Domestic Abuse; and,

·         Catch 22 update.


To help prioritise work programme items a briefing paper will be requested on these items. Members also asked for details on the recent Police raids due to County lines to be included in the briefing.


The next meeting is scheduled for 1 September at which Members requested inclusion of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Children’s Safeguarding Board report, included as an appendix to the Covid-19 response report at this meeting.


Members noted that the SEND working group was due to meet on 27 July.


The Chairman also updated Members on the Children’s Improvement Board. He suggested that an informal briefing session should be arranged for the Select Committee to help understand developments.


A further item was suggested around child illness and mental health concerns post lockdown to consider the impact on children, young people and their families of the current crisis.


RESOLVED – That amendments be made to the work programme as listed above.