The report and presentation before the Sub-Committee updated on the Quarter Four 2020/21 performance information.
The report outlined that all six of the indicators have been given a Red Amber Green status; RAG status – one rated Green and two rated Amber and three indicators rated Red.
The presentation outlined the following highlights:
It was explained that the percentage of Looked After Children (LAC) cases with supervision in the last three months of the year ended at 100%. Regular monitoring at weekly performance meetings has led to sustained improvement in this area and from April, performance will be measured against the new supervision standard, which is a two monthly cycle for LAC and Children in Need (CIN) cases, and monthly for Child Protection cases. It was explained that a priority for 2021/22 would be to achieve further improvement in the quality and consistency of supervision.
It was noted that the percentage of contacts progressing to Early Help was down compared to the previous quarter but has increased when compared to the same point in the previous year. Members were informed that an Early Help worker is based in the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) to support and improve the identification of cases that would benefit from Early Help intervention, whether by the Early Help Service or universal services.
In addition it was stated that the Head of Service for MASH, Early Intervention and Edge of Care is working closely with the Performance Team to improve the way in which Early Help activity is captured and reported.
The percentage of LAC with an up to date pathway plan in place was reported to have dipped slightly in the final quarter of the year. This was attributed to capacity issues, as there were a high number of vacancies within intensive supervision and surveillance (ISS) during the period. The presentation outlined that the equivalent indicator for over 18 year olds (which was highlighted as below target last quarter) has also improved significantly. In addition to the timeliness of plans, it was mentioned that young people need to be engaged with the pathway planning process and their voice evident, and this remains an on-going priority for the service in 2021/22.
The following areas of improvement were outlined:
The percentage of LAC aged under 16 who have been looked after continuously for at least 2.5 years and living in the same placement for at least 2 years have remained relatively stable throughout 2020/21, but was lower than previous years and now below the London average. It was explained that the quality, sufficiency and stability of placements for children in care is a priority for the service over the coming year. It was stated that challenges relating to availability and choice of placements have been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the council is not alone in this experience. The proportion of children with three or more placement moves has decreased compared to last year which is positive; however we know that too many young people still experience placement breakdowns and there is more to do. A high proportion of the children in our care are teenagers, many of whom have experienced trauma and display challenging behaviours, and we require skilled and dedicated carers to provide a home for these children. In response, we delivered a ten week training programme for foster carers alongside their supervising social worker - facilitated by a systemic family therapist - providing strategies and exploring new ways for carers to relate to their foster child. A Placement Stability Panel has been in place since December 2020, alongside a New to Care and Edge of Care Panel. These are both chaired by the Head of Quality Assurance with the view that a child’s plan is scrutinised at the point of coming in to care and then again if they move to a second placement within 12 months.
The percentage of former relevant young people at age 18-21 who are in education, employment or training (EET) has reduced compared to the previous quarter. It was explained that Covid-19 has been an adverse effect on many of the young adults especially those working in retail, hospitality, health and hair and beauty. It was stated that there is a greater focus within pathway plans on EET and outcomes are being closely monitored in supervision with multiple strategies being implemented to ensure that young people do not drop out of education due to the increasing challenge of Covid-19 restrictions and have an impact on their emotional and psychological wellbeing. A number of Care Leavers have been offered opportunities and it is anticipated that with the Cocoon now being partially open, some face to face meetings would be supported, giving confidence to care leavers to consider all of the options and opportunities within EET. The Leaving Care service also continues to liaise with the Virtual School in order to target support to sustain EET prior to young people turning 18.
The percentage of Educational Health Care assessments completed within 20 weeks was below target at the end of the March 2021. The main factor contributing to the dip in performance (to 48%, from 53% in Q3) has been capacity, with one case officer absent due to sickness, and the impact of additional work and training required to implement the new Liquidlogic EHC module.
The latest published data (from the annual SEN2 statutory return, released in May 2021 and covering January 2020 to January 2021) shows that nationally, the rate of EHC plans issued within 20 weeks was 58%, which was down slightly from 60.4% in 2019. It was reported that Havering’s performance for the same period was 60.8%, meaning the council remain above the national average and similar to the London average of 61.8%.
The Sub-Committee noted the contents of the report and presentation.
It was agreed that members of the sub-committee suggest which performance indicators it would like to consider for monitoring and scrutiny during 2021/22 and inform the Chairman in 14 days..