Agenda and minutes

Improving Lives Select Commission - Tuesday, 5th March, 2019 5.30 p.m.

Venue: Town Hall, Moorgate Street, ROTHERHAM. S60 2TH

Contact: Debbie Pons, Principal Democratic Services Officer  The webcast can be viewed at

No. Item


Declarations of Interest


There were no Declarations of Interest to report.


Questions from members of the public and the press


There were no questions from members of the public or the press.




The Select Commission noted that feedback from the Performance Sub-Group, Health Select Commission and Corporate Parenting Panel would be circulated by email.


An update from the Review Group had also been fed into the LADO process.


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 128 KB


Consideration was given to the minutes of the previous meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission held on 15th January, 2019.


It was noted that an action arising from minutes previously agreed had been completed with a visit to the University Campus by Elected Members, who were very impressed with the facilities and what courses were on offer.


Resolved;-  That the minutes of the previous meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission held on 15th January, 2019 be approved.


Barnardo's ReachOut Service Update and Barnardo's ReachOut Final Evaluation Report pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Additional documents:


Further to Minute No. 5 of the Improving Lives Select Commission held on 5th June, 2018, consideration was given to the report presented by the Deputy Leader and Acting Strategic Commissioning Manager which detailed how the Barnardo’s ReachOut project was established in Rotherham under a three year partnership funding agreement between Barnardo’s, the KPMG Foundation, Department for Education, Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council.


The project, an innovative outreach service, strived to support and protect children and young people in Rotherham who were at risk of child sexual exploitation. The key areas of work for the project were:-


·             Preventative educations in schools and other settings, primarily delivering the healthy relationships education package ‘Real Love Rocks’;

·             Targeted outreach to young people at risk;

·             Direct Support to individual young people and their parents.


The ReachOut Service began delivery in January, 2016 and, therefore, had been operational for just over three years.


The project had been the subject of a full independent evaluation which was undertaken by the University of Bedfordshire and DMSS Research to evaluate the impact of the project and provide ongoing learning and feedback. This report presented an update of the key areas of service delivery, a summary of the full independent evaluation report, and the responses to the recommendations made at the Improving lives Select Commission on the 5th June, 2018.


Following on from an initial update on the ReachOut Project last year further information was provided on the engagement with primary schools, the outcome of discussions with young inspectors about improving the project’s profile and the discussion with the Assistant Director, Education and Skills, including information circulated to schools.


The outreach work had evolved and reached over 10,000 people in Rotherham. Barnado’s had also attended community events, targeted help for those considered at risk and had reached a wide audience about the risks of child sexual exploitation as well as working closely with the training of taxi drivers, the Fire Service and Roma community.


Whilst there was still more work to be done in terms of education in schools, every secondary school had been visited over the three year period and engagement had commenced with up to 50% of primary schools as well. 


Further action had been recommended on improving engagement, liaising with young inspectors around any ideas or approaches that would improve engagement through the Real Love Rocks offer and promotion of training on social media.  All suggestions would be considered as part of improving engagement with schools. 


RMBC, CYPS Commissioning, in Partnership with Barnardo’s were successful in their bid for £1m funding from the Home Office’s Trusted Relationship Fund to widen its remit to include young people at the risk of Child Criminal Exploitation or “County Lines”.


Barnardo’s were building strong links with the Youth Offending Team and with providers who have a proven track record in delivering services for this cohort of young people.  In addition were further developing their assessment indicators to include the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.


Progress towards implementation of Phase Two and Phase Three of the Early Help Strategy 2016-2019 pdf icon PDF 123 KB


Consideration was given to the briefing report and presentation on the implementation of Phase 2 and 3 of the Early Help Review and an update provided in respect of the progress in establishing Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) with schools for youth service provision and related transfer of assets.


With the aid of powerpoint David McWilliams and Eileen Chambers gave a presentation on the Early Help Offer, which highlighted:-


·             Rotherham’s Early Help Offer.

·             Three Phases.

·             Phase Two and Three Objectives.

·             What was working well.

·             Youth Centre Updates.

·             What we were worried about.

·             Children Centres.

·             What was working well.

·             What worried about – Broom Valley.

·             Day Care.

·             Next steps.

·             Youth Centres and Team Bases.


A discussion and a question and answer session ensued and the following issues were raised and clarified:-


·             Who were the representatives for the unparished areas of the borough.


Representatives were still to be determined.


·             What was the current position with regards to the Maltby Playgroup at The Linx.


Confirmation has been distributed and their position was secure in the longer term.


·             The target for savings of £205k had been achieved due a combination of freezing vacant posts and non-essential expenditure, but what proportion of the saving was due to vacant posts.


Some posts had been taken out of the structure altogether.  To offset the budget pressures across the wider directorate post were kept vacant during the selection process to offset the budget.  To achieve the savings of £380,000 a longer freeze would be required from 1st April, 2019 to help with wider pressures and the move towards a more equitable position.


What work was taking place with the Children and Young People’s Consortium and wider voluntary sector to maximise funding bids to offset financial pressures?

This action was already taking place.  The Council was working with VAR, the Children’s Consortium, Parish Councils and a number of independent organisations to bid more collectively and collaboratively.  The Council was becoming more targeted and consortium bids had been submitted around holiday hunger.  .  It was challenging and people were working closely and more collaboratively in search of the larger pots of money on a more sustainable basis. 


·             Was it likely that some of the children centre provision would continue following the de-registration of some children’s centres and was there a spread of where this was still happening.


In many cases there was no change to delivery, but the change was from where it was delivered from.


For example – the children centre offer was delivered from Tesco’s Tuesday and Thursday morning and this was very popular.  This could be observed by Members if there was a wish for this to be arranged.


In addition, Greasbrough Library offered support to around 20/30 parents and again delivered outside the children’s centre.


·             Could the personal support and help offered in Children’s Centres  be provided in more diverse settings?


Part of the restructure was to keep roles for outreach and engagement.  There were people that worked with the 0-5, but in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.


Presentation - Ofsted Annual Conversation Update


Consideration was given to a presentation on the Ofsted Annual Conversation Officer by Jon Stonehouse, Strategic Director.


This was a key part of the Inspection of Local Authority Children’s Services framework and assisted Local Authorities to critically evaluate their own performance


The presentation covered:-


·             Annual Conversation – 20th November, 2018

·             Discussions:-


v   Complexity of the local area.

v   LAC review.

v   Partnership working.

v   Permanence planning.

v   SEND sufficiency.

v   Initial Health Assessments and thresholds.


·             Next steps and possibility of a focused visit.


A discussion and a question and answer session ensued and the following issues were raised and clarified:-


·             Given the concerns around “county lines” and exclusions and vulnerable children and young people, were there concerns about home education and if this was being used as an alternative to exclusion.


The Council had a priority for making its education system as inclusive as possible and wanted to make sure that there was a range of provision for as many young people as possible.  This was a national issue and should not be looked at in isolation in order  that resources were used as effectively as possible to accommodate the majority of children and young people. 


·             Had there  been a discussion with Ofsted about a focused visit and was the service ready for this to be undertaken?  ?


The peer review would help with preparations and the service would be as ready as it would be for any Ofsted challenge with strong performance management arrangements in place which mean the service was already reasonably well prepared.  However, the service would not become complacent and always ready for a challenge.


It was reassuring that nothing discussed was of a surprise.  Partnership Board and Performance Board met on a monthly basis examining and challenging where it was required.


The Chair spoke for the Vice-Chair who was unable to attend today’s meeting and confirmed the Performance Sub-Group of this Commission was working well with a good level of challenge and explanation.


Resolved:-  (1)  That officers be thanked for their informative presentation.


(2)  That for any future inspections information be circulated to this Improving Lives Selection Commission.


Presentation - Looked After Children Sufficiency Strategy - Update


Consideration was given to a presentation on the Looked After Children Sufficient Strategy which sought to deliver and improve outcomes for children who were looked after.  This would ensure the right placements and also delivery significant savings to the Local Authority, 


The needs analysis supported the market management work going forward.  Another project led by the Head of Service about demand, the Right Care Right Child Strategy was linked and informed by Looked After Children Sufficiency Strategy. 


The presentation highlighted:-


·             LAC Sufficiency Strategy - Purpose.

·             LAC Profile.

·             Pattern of Admissions to Care.

·             The National and Regional Picture.

·             Placement Profile.

·             Placement Spend and Unit Costs.

·             In-House Foster Care.

·             Independent Fostering Agencies.

·             Residential Provision.

·             Right Child, Right Care Approach.

·             LAC Sufficiency Strategy Principles.

·             Next Steps.


A discussion and a question and answer session ensued and the following issues were raised and clarified:-


·             How many mother and baby placements were there.


There were three in-house mother and baby foster placements.  It was hoped that this could be developed as part of the service, but it was a matter of finding the right carers, with the right skills and commitment.


·             What was the average timeframe for becoming a foster carer.


This was an area that was being looked into as part of the foster carer recruitment process.  There was a need to encourage people, share the message, support and look in detail about the process to reduce the current timescales from expressions of interest to being presented to the Fostering Panel.  Currently the average timeframe was eight/nine months.


·             Some disabled children received respite care, but remained living at home.  Were those children classed as being looked after? Where there any disabled children in specialist residential provision outside of Rotherham?


Determination of whether a child was looked after or not, depended on the percentage time they were in placement.  Ten per cent of the Looked After Children population were disabled and the majority of these were placed in residential rather than foster care provision. A high proportion of these placements were out of authority.  However, work was taking place to develop local provision which was hoped to open shortly.


The Chair thanked officers for their attendance and welcomed the good work taking place and suggested a sub-group of this Commission look into the options as they emerge from the Looked After Children Sufficiency Strategy.


Resolved:-  (1)  That officers be thanked for their informative presentation and the contents noted.


(2)  That nominations be sought for a Sub-Group from the Improving Lives Select Commission in due course looking in detail as options emerged from this Strategy.


Improvement Partner Peer Review of the Looked After Children Service (November 2018) pdf icon PDF 106 KB


Consideration was given to  the report which detailed the findings of the Council’s  Improvement Partner, Lincolnshire Children’s Services, Peer Review of the Looked After Children (LAC) Service in November, 2018. This was almost two years after the previous Peer Review in December, 2016 and twelve months after the Ofsted Inspection in November, 2017.


The rationale for this further Review was to gauge the ongoing improvements within the service given that the LAC Service was the only part of Children and Young People’s Services to be graded as “Requires Improvement” by Ofsted. Whilst the Inspection identified that, “The local authority has improved the services it provides for children looked after since the last inspection” it also concluded that many of the changes were too new and insufficiently embedded for any other conclusion to be reached.


The remit of the Review was to undertake an assessment was determined and a number of Focus Groups were arranged to meet with the Peer Review Team (PRT) and looked particularly at:-


·             Scope.

·             Evidence.

·             What was working well.

·             What we were still worried about.

·             What we were doing about it.


A discussion and answer session ensued and the following questions were raised and clarified:-


·             Good practice recommended pre-birth assessments should start at 28 weeks and finish at 36 weeks.  Was Rotherham on track to comply with this?


This was not been on target.  Capacity was being addressed and the backlog being worked through. The service were now confident it could now meet those timescales. 


·              What was the level of confidence that that the decision to move to care proceedings was the right one?


In 94% of the cases the Local Authority was successful in getting the care order it requested, but the 6% were where the court may not have felt confident about making a decision and often defer for further work.  94% was strong performance. 


·             Were there any barriers to developing foster carers in Muslim communities?.


There was a need to actively engage to become a community strength based model and for members of the Muslim community to understand the requirements for foster carers. 


Attempts were being made to engage with the local Mosque Community Forum and to recognise some of the needs of young people .  This was an exciting prospect and could change the experiences of looked after children.


·             Were there any worries about Regulation 24?


Regulation 24 was kinship care provided on an emergency basis whilst viability assessments were undertaken. These placements  lasted up to sixteen  weeks with an expectation that kinship carers would become foster carers with a named individual in their care.  An extension could be requested.


Most of the Regulation 24 placements progressed to permanence in the form of Special Guardianship Orders. There is a specialist worker in place to provide guidance to the relevant teams on the status of kinship placements


·             Was there a timeframe for the achievements of developments identified in the review to be undertaken?


There were many innovations and developments in the service.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.


Date and time of the next meeting


Resolved:-  That the next meeting of the Improving Lives Select Commission take place on Tuesday, 16th April, 2019 at 5.30 p.m.