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Contact: Helen Phillips Email: email@example.com
Declarations of Interest
There were none at this meeting.
That the meeting of the Safe & Strong Communities Select Committee held on 22 April 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.
Introduction to the Safeguarding Overview & Scrutiny Committee
a) A brief introduction to the areas of work covered within the remit of this Overview and Scrutiny Committee from:
· Ruth Martin, Adults Safeguarding Team Manager
· Helen Riley, Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities
b) Cabinet Member perspective on areas for possible future scrutiny
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee heard from Ruth Martin, Adult Safeguarding Team Manager, considering the role and responsibilities the Council had relating to adult safeguarding. Section 42 of the Care Act placed a responsibility on the Council around safeguarding adults, with a duty to care and support adults needs and to make enquires where concerns may exist around abuse and/or neglect, and to address these. The Act placed adult safeguarding on the same legal footing as children’s safeguarding. Whilst there would always be some adults who came under both adult safeguarding and social care they were different services, with adult social care under Section 75, managed by the Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT), dealing with the more day to day adult social care services.
Members received details of the Adults Safeguarding Teams and the delivery of services. Adult safeguarding included work with anyone over 18 with care and support needs including learning and/or physical needs, poor mental health, and those vulnerable due to drug and alcohol misuse. Members noted that there was no eligibility criteria in respect of adult safeguarding, but rather accessed those adults who had care and support needs which prevented them protecting themselves from harm. This need had risen in Staffordshire over the last year, from 1000 per month last year to 1700 per month this year. There was a need to consider how this growth in referrals would be managed and a Transformation Project was currently underway to consider any changes that could improve service delivery and manage increased demand.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee were pleased to note that adults safeguarding was well supported by partner agencies and colleagues. They noted the Adults Safeguarding Board Annual Report gave an overview of adult safeguarding across Staffordshire, with this report included annually on the work programme for scrutiny.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee received a presentation from Helen Riley, Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities. Statistics were shared highlighting that most Staffordshire children and young people had good lives. Children’s Services provided for those children and families who needed some support and ranged from earliest help low level support to statutory service provision. Members noted that Staffordshire Children’s Services had been the first to be rated “Good” by Ofsted in the West Midlands, and they were still a “Good” rated Authority.
Members received details of the range of services provided, including:
Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People
Staffordshire County Council has a legal duty to ensure Children’s Community Support (including Domiciliary Care) provision was in place to support children and young people with a range of disabilities who had been assessed by a suitably qualified Social Worker as being eligible for a personal care service within the family home and local community. A further legal obligation for the Council was to offer a range of commissioned community short break opportunities, ranging from community-based breaks of a few hours, to overnight short breaks for Children with Disabilities under the Breaks for Carers of Disabled Children regulations 2011. Staffordshire had developed its “Aiming High for Children with Disabilities” programme to support these duties. The programme augmented the in-house and commissioned Overnight Short Breaks Unit, and the support of Short Breaks Foster Carers in providing the range of short breaks for children to give parents and carers a meaningful break from their caring responsibilities. The Council also commissioned a range of providers from across Staffordshire to deliver Children’s Community Support and Short Breaks on their behalf, currently commissioned and contracted as two separate support programmes.
Members considered the proposal to bring together arrangements for both these service (short break and community support) under one commission. This suggestion had been made following an in-depth options appraisal, concluding that one commissioned service would provide more flexible, responsive support that drew on children and families’ existing strengths, focusing on development, independence, preparedness for adulthood and was cost effective.
Cabinet were due to make a decision on this proposal at their meeting of 21 July.
Members raised concerns around ensuring enough provision and heard that considerable work had been undertaken to increase the marketplace, including working with adult colleagues to maximise the range of care for children and young people. This was of particular interest when considering most service users would transition from children’s to adults’ services, therefore allowing continuity. Work to continue to grow the market will be ongoing and could include providing training to help support opening up this market. The Place Based approach also encouraged providers from the voluntary sector so every effort would be taken to engage local providers, although Members sought assurances that the voluntary sector was there to add value, not replace statutory service provision. Members also discussed how to ensure service users were receiving fulfilling care and were informed that the quality of provision was monitored and that the CQC inspected homes providing this service. If Members had any specific concerns or examples of care concerns they could raise this with officers directly.
Members also shared concerns around recruitment, particularly where wages were often poor which devalued such an important service. Option 2 proposed the development of more in-house provision and it was felt this would give opportunities for better involvement and ease of awareness of the service provided. This would also avoid any tendency to cherry pick the more financially lucrative work. The Cabinet Member agreed that the profile of social care needed to be raised ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Report of the Scrutiny Support Officer
Members considered the work programme planning report that set out the remit of this committee, methods of scrutiny, standard annual items and areas outstanding from the previous committee. They noted that this was a dynamic and flexible document that would change to accommodate key and emerging priorities and that it would be included on each Scrutiny meeting agenda.
On considering this report and the detail shared with them this morning from Officers and the Cabinet Member, the following areas were raised for possible future scrutiny:
· safeguarding adolescents, particularly a cause for concern over the past year when young people have had time on their hands resulting in disruptive and anti-social behaviour, including these difficulties being more complex in some parts of the County with cross boarder issues.
· Community safety – considering the outcome of the inquest into the Fishmonger Hall incident and the findings that there had been inadequate management of Usman Khan, a resident of Stafford. Looking at what learning had been taken from this incident and giving Members an opportunity to seek the Commissioners reassurance that safeguards were in place to prevent any such further incidents
· young and first time parents of pre-school children and early help in supporting parental skills and development
· young carers and how well they are supported
· sexual harassment, abuse and/or assault in schools and how this is recognised and addressed
· the number of those investigated for child sexual abuse that were ultimately found guilty over the past 5 years and whether these investigations were reasonable and proportionate
· Adults Safeguarding Transformation Project
· Further detail on developments with the outcome focussed 1-1 support, home care & community support (including domiciliary care) for Staffordshire children with disabilities, evidencing how the proposed joining of services progresses and its success and/or challenges and whether those providers that transitioned from adults to children’s provision have done so successfully, with any skills gaps addressed.
· low level neglect and the devastating impact of long-term low-level neglect. The current changes to ways of working to address this following the tragedy in 2019, what challenges remain.
· Prevention and early intervention
· SEND review – responding to the review and moving forward
· Early years – particularly under 4s children’s centre/family hubs
· MacAlister Report – case for change
· Governance Model – how to work better together, trying to develop a more effective model of governance
Members also noted the following standing items for inclusion:
· Staffordshire Safeguarding Children’s Board Annual Report
· 2 reports – adults & children’s complaints & representations
· Regular updates on CSE
The Chairman asked Members to give further consideration to the information received today and forward any further possible work programme items to either himself or the Scrutiny & Support Officer. All items raised would then be considered for inclusion through discussions between the Officer, Chairman and Vice-Chairmen, with thought being given to timing and the range of possible methods for scrutiny, with a draft work programme brought to the July meeting for members consideration.
RESOLVED – That the items suggested for possible inclusion on the work programme ... view the full minutes text for item 14.