Agenda and minutes

Families Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 8th September, 2022 1.30 pm

Venue: Bridges Room - Civic Centre

Contact: Rosalyn Patterson E-mail: 

No. Item


Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 124 KB

The Committee is asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the last meeting held on 16 June 2022


RESOLVED -              That the minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2022 be approved as a correct record.


CAMHS and Impact of Covid - Update pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Report of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust


The Committee received a report in relation to the impact if the Covid 19 pandemic on the mental health of children and young people in Gateshead and the services supporting them.


The impact of Covid 19 on the mental health of children and young people has been widely reported.


Public Health England recognised the need and issued the guidance on supporting children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing.  The guidance offered advice on:


·        Ways to get urgent help for mental health and support

·        How CYP might cope with stress during the pandemic

·        How CYP might manage with physical health issues

·        How CYP who care for others might be supported

·        Strategies to address bullying

·        Support for CYP experiencing grief or bereavement


Referrals into Children and Young People’s Service (CYPS) during the first wave of the pandemic dropped, this was attributed to the loss of the school structure (education being a key referrer for children and young people) and concerns about attendance at GP or other appointments during lockdown.


However, many young people were clearly struggling with the changes to their routines, the fear of the unknown, worries about loved ones, the loss of social contact with peers and increased pressure on families who were under financial pressure and forced to be together for long periods of time.  Sadly there was a marked increase in domestic violence and many young people were exposed to risk which they may not otherwise have faced had they been at school or able to socialise.


As children returned to school and more readily started to access primary care support, the referral rate to all pathways in the CYPS services increased and has continued to do so exponentially.


Initially all young people, including those waiting for services were contacted and risk assessed to monitor their wellbeing.  Face to face contact with appropriate PPE was maintained for those deemed to be at highest risk.


Young people were helped to understand and strengthen their internal resilience, learn helpful coping strategies, relaxation techniques and mindfulness.  Parents were encouraged to promote confidence and support their children by understanding the importance of communication, empathy and the need for their children to feel safe and supported.


There has been a noticeable decrease in overall staff resilience in the service through the pandemic.  The CYPS service has experienced high levels of staff sickness (made of both covid and non-covid related sickness) and recruitment and retention of staff have become a significant challenge.


The average number of referrals accepted over the past six weeks are 25 per week with the rate showing a continued increase.  Under a waiting list initiative the Trust are transferring 25 cases per month to Toby Henderson Trust.  A total of 292 cases have been transferred to Psychiatry UK between April 2022 and July 2022 with the total number being 480 within the 22/23 financial year.

There are lots of children with Autism/ADHD and a lot of children being referred for assessment, work is ongoing to look at  ...  view the full minutes text for item F51


Ofsted Improvement Plan - Progress Update pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Report of the Deputy Strategic Director, Children’s Social Care, and LifelongLearning


The Committee were provided with an update in relation to areas identified for improvement from inspection activity by Ofsted.  The improvements being worked upon are supporting our aim to become an outstanding children services provider.


During a short inspection in 2019, the service was judged good and then in a focussed visit in September 2021 the report was that we were continuing to provide a good service that had improved.  The findings of the inspections were overwhelmingly positive but both identified a small number of areas for improvement.


An action plan has been developed which identifies 6 key areas of improvement.

·       Improve the quality and focus of written plans to ensure they are specific and targeted to meet the needs of individual children

·       Secure access to services for those children in care who live out of the borough

·       Improve the quality and impact of supervision and contingency planning for children in need (ensure consistency for all children)

·       Ensure routine inclusion of children and their families’ views in audits

·       Development of contextual safeguarding arrangements

·       Further development of domestic abuse provision

For each of the 6 areas of improvement in the action plan, broad improvement themed actions have been identified which are supported by detailed operational activities designed to achieve the themed action.  A lead officer has been identified for each themed action.


The service has already started to implement actions from the plan.  The service is seeking to complete the actions over the next 6 months with good progress already being made over the previous 6 months.  It was noted that there were some really good actions and it was queried how realistic the targets were for recruitment of foster carers were they too ambitious.  It was noted that they were ambitious but that we need to be ambitious as some of the carers we currently have are becoming staying put carers.  We are seeing new carers coming through but we don’t currently have any vacancies with carers.


It was queried if it would be possible to have the results shared on the audits that children and families are involved in.  It was noted that it would be possible to provide these anonymously. 


It was queried how children who are living in a household where there is domestic abuse are being identified.  It was noted that referrals com in through from members of the public, teachers, health professionals, referrals through the front door. 


It was queried whether it would be possible to have a glossary of terms or an easier to understand version of the plan.


RESOLVED -           (i)      that the information contained within the report and plan be noted.

                                (ii)     that the request for information and comments be noted.

                                (iii)    That a progress report will be brought back to Committee in 6 months



Annual Report on Complaints and Representations - Children pdf icon PDF 175 KB

Report of Deputy Strategic Director, Children’s Social Care and Lifelong Learning

Additional documents:


The Committee were presented with a report on complaints, compliments and

Representations for the period April 2021 to March 2022.


The Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003

Requires that Councils with Social Services responsibilities produce an

Annual Report of their Statutory Children’s Services Complaints Procedure. 


The Annual Report is specifically about Children Act 1989 Statutory Complaints about Children’s Social Care Services with information on complaint related queries and compliments that are received about staff or services.


The procedure has three stages

Stage 1 – Local Resolution

Stage 2 – Investigation

Stage 3 – Independent Review


In 2021/22 the number of complaints and representations dealt with was asfollows:

·             The number of formal contacts received, including compliments, about Children’s Services decreased by 13.2% (187) compared with the number of contacts received during 2020/21,(215).

·             The number of contacts raising dissatisfaction increased by 11% (79 to88).

·             This is the same level of dissatisfaction received during2019/20.

·             Children’s Services received 11 Stage 1 complaints during 2021/22. This is almost a 35% decrease on Stage 1 complaints received during 2020/21,(17).

·             The number of complaint related queries (low level issues not requiring a written response) increased by 3% compared to those received during 2020/21 (26 from 27).

·             59% (16) of complaint related queries were regarding the quality ofservices provided.

·             All complaint related queries received about Children’s Social Care were dealt with directly by either the team manager of the service complained about or by the Complaints Section after prior discussion with the workerconcerned.

·             There were no complaints registered at Stage 2 of the complaint’s procedure during 2021/22.

·             However, there were three Stage 3 Review Panels held during thistime.  Two of the Panels held were in respect of the same complaint. The first Panel was stood down due to new information submitted by theService.

·             During 2021/22, 53% (99) of all Children’s Services contacts werecompliments.


The following key points were highlighted to the Committee

o   Complaints brought by relatives of children receiving a service accounted for91%

(10) of all complaint referrals.

o   One complaint was raised directly by a cared for young person. This complaint was regarding the actions of staff in a commissioned residential facility. This complaint was partially upheld afterinvestigation.

o   Children and young people receiving a service have recourse to the Council’s Children’s Rights Officer. The Children’s Rights Officer works closely with those who raise concerns and, in most cases, can resolve thesesuccessfully.

o   36% (4) of all complaints received were in respect of services provided by the Safeguarding and Care Planning Teams. However, it should be noted that most children receiving a service are allocated a social worker from the Safeguarding and Care Planning Teams.

o   27% (3) of complaints were regarding the services provided by the Assessment and InterventionTeam.

o   The key theme identified from complaints about the Assessment and Intervention Service were disputes to information within assessments or the assessment process.

o   27% (3) of complaints  ...  view the full minutes text for item F53


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Joint Report of the Chief Executive and Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance

Additional documents:


The Committee were presented with the work programme report and the minor amendments were highlighted, the two SEND reports are to be linked and the Early Help Demand pressures moved to October meeting.


It was noted that there is still the Edberts House update on the work they are doing around Adverse Childhood Experiences.


It was requested that the updated training for Corporate Parenting be done in person.


It was queried whether it would be possible to have an update on the music service and what / how people in the community are getting involved in music.


It was requested that there be a review of people’s experiences with energy costs and cost of living in general in 2023.


RESOLVED -    (i)       that the provisional work programme for 2022/23 be noted.

                          (ii)      that further reports on the work programme with be brought to the Committee to identify any additional policy issues which the Committee may be asked to consider.