Agenda and minutes

Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 6th July 2021 10:00am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Buildings, Stafford. View directions

Contact: Helen Phillips  Email:


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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Vice-Chairman Gill Burnett declared an interest in minute number 19 with regard to her daughter, who is an Early Years Co-ordinator at a Children’s Centre.


Minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 17 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 235 KB

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RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Safeguarding Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 17 June 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chairman.


Domestic Abuse pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Community and Culture

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The Overview and Scrutiny Committee had requested an update on Domestic Abuse services across Staffordshire, focusing on the impact of the pandemic. Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and the Staffordshire Commissioners Office (SCO) jointly commissioned Domestic Abuse (DA) services across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, with the SCO acting as lead commissioner. Services included the provision for victims, perpetrators, children and young people. The service contract for  victims services had been awarded to Victim Support, with services for perpetrators awarded to the Reducing Reoffending Partnership. Both these services were  provided under the brand name of New Era.


Members heard that the overall annual contract value for the Victims and Perpetrator provision was £2,157,000 with the County Council annual contribution being £670,490. This equated to a contribution of 31% of the value of the contract annually, with SCO contributing £1,015,483 (47%) and Stoke City Council contributed £544,997 (22%).  The Tri-Partite Agreement for both Victim and Perpetrator services commenced in October 2018 and contained an option to extend the contract for each service for a period of two years from 30th September 2020 until 30th September 2023. The decision to action this extension had been mutually agreed by all parties and the extension was now in place.  The Committee felt Staffordshire were getting good value for money from their contribution.


Since the contract began there had been 14,160 referrals/enquiries for support to the victim service across Staffordshire and Stoke, of which 62.9% (8,907) were from Staffordshire residents and Members heard details of the latest quarterly performance report (Q4 20/21). A breakdown of referrals by district for each service was also shared and Members queried why some districts had seen a more noticeable rise in referral numbers. Referrals were monitored on a quarterly basis with fluctuations in each district being fairly common. It was anticipated that districts with higher referral numbers in the last quarter were examples of this normal fluctuation, although this would be monitored.


Members had wanted to satisfy themselves that there were appropriate links between services provided for children and young people who are at risk of child exploitation and services which support victims of domestic abuse to ensure that information wasn’t missed that may lead to individuals not receiving appropriate services. The Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) Panels enabled information to be shared between services and partner agencies, enabling a joined-up approach to service delivery. New Era attended these Panels. Members heard that the Police also attended MACE Panels, with information governance arrangements in place to allow information to be shared amongst all MACE partners, enabling appropriate actions and support to be put in place.


Members had also queried the rationale behind the disparity in the number of referrals into Staffordshire’s commissioned DA services and referrals to the Police. Staffordshire had seen a 30% increase in referrals for their DA services but the Police had not seen a corresponding rise. Analysis was underway to identify the reasons for this and detail of this would be shared with the Committee in due  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Together4Children Regional Permanency Partnership Update Briefing pdf icon PDF 362 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People

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Members had previously requested detail of progress made with the regional Together4Children Permanency Partnership which, since going live on 28 September 2020, had been delivering the regional adoption service for Staffordshire County Council, Shropshire Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Telford & Wrekin Council.  Partnership development activity had started in 2018 in response to the Government’s ‘Regionalising Adoption’ agenda and brought together 4 Partner Council’s to plan the delivery of adoption services regionally.


Through the development phase a vision had been created that went beyond the delivery of Adoption Services and focused on a broader range of activities to ensure that children entering care achieved permanency, working together to improve outcomes for those children who entered care and were not able to return to their birth parents. The Vision was to ensure that children achieved emotional, physical, and legal permanence; growing up in loving homes with adults who provided them with a strong sense of security, continuity, commitment, and identity. The Partnership aimed to:

a)    make best use of collective resources to recruit, assess and support prospective adopters across the region;

b)    improve the quality and speed of matching for children through better planning and by having a wider choice of adopters;

c)    provide high quality support to children and their families delivered through a combination of direct provision and effective partnerships;

d)    provide all children and their families with the right support at the right time through a consistent permanency support offer across the region.

The Committee heard about the delays resulting from the Pandemic and the work developed resulting from that. Whilst it was still early days for Together4Children there were already positive achievements in the effectiveness of encouraging enquiries from potential adopter families and in the number of successful adoptions.


One of the main aims for the new agency was to enable adoptive children to stay within their region of birth where possible. This enabled lifelong support to be offered to children and their adoptive families, through to support for adopted adults who may wish to explore their birth identity.


Members were aware that some children were more difficult to find adoptive families for, with the current most challenging groups to place being boys over 5 years and children in sibling groups.


The Committee were pleased to note that Together4Children was to be one of only two regional adoption agencies to be part of Adoption UK’s innovative ‘TESSA’ support program for adoptive families. This was a pilot program, currently funded through the Big Lottery Community Fund, which aimed to create the conditions for healthy development and family wellbeing in adoptive families at risk of the effects of early childhood trauma. Since TESSA went live in October 2020 40 families across the Together4Children region had received this support.


The Committee were also informed that in addition to the delivery of Regional Adoption Services, other areas of regional practice were being developed, supporting children who came into care to achieve stability and permanence within foster or kinship care families. Together4Children were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Developing Family Hubs in Staffordshire pdf icon PDF 416 KB

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children and Young People


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The Cabinet Member for Children and Young People shared details of the emerging development of the Family Hubs. This was part of the manifesto pledge to champion Family Hubs across England, bringing together a whole family approach enabling families access to early advice, information and support at a local level.


The Committee considered details of the emerging vision for the development of Family Hubs in Staffordshire, demonstrating how ambitions for Family Hubs would contribute to the delivery of the Families Strategic Partnership Children, Young People and Families Strategy, the Early Help Strategy and the development of the Place Based Approach for Children and Families.  Members received details of the emerging thinking regarding the development of the Family Hub Model. They were reminded that evidence showed a child’s experiences from conception to five played a critical role in their development. Measurable gaps in outcomes between disadvantaged and vulnerable children and their peers could emerge early before children were two years of age with these being difficult and costly to close. In particular, evidence showed that a child’s home environment, and parent-child relationships, were central to early development and there was a strong financial case for providing Early Help at this age to prevent later more costly support.


Family Hubs were designed to overcome difficulties some families may face in understanding how to access support, improving the coordination of national and local services and their delivery to vulnerable and disadvantaged families with children aged from conception to nineteen. Members heard that whilst the pandemic provided a challenging backdrop, it had sharpened awareness of the risk faced by some disadvantaged and vulnerable families of being left behind and had encouraged local agencies to explore greater integration and enhanced partnership working.


Staffordshire has a well-developed existing network of Children’s Centres which currently focused provision on the Early Years. This network of Children’s Centres (operated through the Early Years Coordination Service) sought to deliver a seamless integrated service within communities in relation to the Early Years. The delivery of Staffordshire’s Children’s Centres was underpinned by the Children Centre Statutory Guidance.  This statutory guidance stated that Local Authorities were required to consult with families if they planned to make changes to the delivery of the Children’s Centre Services. With this in mind the Committee’s support was sought to engage in a period of consultation with families to develop the Children’s Centre’s into Family Hubs with a broader age remit and offer of holistic placed based support working with partners.


Members heard that the aim was to develop a Staffordshire Family Hub model which:

a)    brought together a range of provision into a coherent, connected and accessible offer to families around a local place, supporting them to achieve and maintain positive outcomes and seek to prevent needs from escalating;

b)    placed a focus on early help and prevention with the communities of Staffordshire;

c)    took a whole-family approach and was available to families with children aged 0- 19 (and up to 25 for those with SEND), providing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 253 KB

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The Committee noted that items from their 17 June planning meeting had been included on their work programme. There were several cross-cutting items proposed and consideration would be given to how these progressed, looking at whether joint work between Committees would be beneficial. In particular the item proposed on sexual harassment in schools had also been included on the work programmes for both Prosperous and Health, with a spot light piece of work proposed, to include one member from each Committee, who would then report back to their respective overview and scrutiny committees.


Further discussions were taking place to manage agenda planning, allocating proposed items throughout the calendared meetings. Discussions were also ongoing between the Chairmen of the Police, Fire and Crime Panel and this Committee to prevent duplication with this Committee’s role as the Crime and Disorder Panel and the work of the Panel.


RESOLVED: That the update work programme be agreed.