Venue: 0.01 Chamber - Quadrant, The Silverlink North, Cobalt Business Park, North Tyneside, NE27 0BY
Contact: Maria Parkinson: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Appointment of substitutes
To be informed of the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.
There were no substitute members
To receive any declarations of interest
Councillor E Parker-Leonard declared a registerable personal interest in Item 6 Safeguarding Children and Young people in the Covid Pandemic, as she was a foster carer with another local authority
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 25 March 2021
Resolved that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 March 2021 be confirmed and signed by the Chair.
Understanding Health Inequalities
The Sub-Committee considered a presentation by the Director of Public Health on understanding health inequalities and the health of young people in the Borough.
It was noted that:
- The Marmot Review had evidenced that mortality and morbidity for children and young people was preventable
- Inequalities in health had a significant and negative impact on the health and well being of children – a low birth weight baby was five times more likely to die as an infant than those of normal birth weight
- Overweight, obese children were at a greater risk of poorer attainment
- Poverty was a key issue and associated with negative outcomes and child poverty in the Riverside ward was 34.3% compared to 5.3% in St Mary’s ward
- Covid 19 had exposed and amplified the existing inequalities facing children and the wider effects of Covid had disproportionately and negatively affected vulnerable children
- In terms of education and the impact of Covid, school attendance was very important for children and young people and critical to reduce health inequalities
- The Child Health Profile for North Tyneside in March 2021 (copies of which had been circulated at the meeting) provided a good snapshot of child health in the area and overall comparing local indicators with England averages, the health and well being of children in North Tyneside was mixed.
- The infant mortality rate was similar to England with an average of 8 infants dying before age 1 each year. Recently there have been 4 child deaths (1-17 year olds) each year on average
- By 6-8 weeks after birth, 42.2% of mothers were still breastfeeding and this was one of the biggest protectors against poverty and promoted by the Health Visiting Service Programme
- The levels of child obesity compared with the English average were worse, with 25.8% of children in Reception class and 36.2% of children in Year 6 who have excess weight and was a concern in some localities.
- Covid 19 had impacted on nutrition and physical activity as the less affluent were less likely to eat well and exercise more
- In relation to young people’s mental health, nationally the rate of young people being admitted to hospital as a result of self harm was increasing and this was also the case for North Tyneside. Lockdowns have had an impact with the withdrawal of structure and support and there has been an increase in the demand for Counselling services and referrals to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
- Dental health was an issue with 12.7% of 5 year olds with experience of dental decay
- In North Tyneside there were significant improvements in teenage pregnancy rates and fewer young people taking up smoking
- However there were clear inequalities in health outcomes and to address health inequalities the wider determinants of health needed to be addressed by optimising the conditions
The Sub-Committee discussed the issues raised in the presentation and in the course of ... view the full minutes text for item CES4
To receive an update on Safeguarding Children and Young People in the Covid-19 Pandemic
The Assistant Director Safeguarding and Children’s Services reported that since September 2020 services had largely returned to normal but underpinned by risk assessments to keep children, families and staff safe and prevent transmission of Covid. The staff group had worked with incredible commitment and dedication and had maintained on the whole, high standards of practice and performance.
Children’s Homes had continued to offer warmth, care and support to children in care. They had to contend with using PPE and additional restrictions whilst at the same time supporting children and young people experiencing the pandemic. The teams have been able to cover the gaps where staff members were unable to continue in their role due to shielding or specific vulnerabilities, with other staff from across the service identified to assist.
Due to the additional health complexities the residential short break service was reduced to keep children safe. Instead of offering short breaks to 5 children a night, the service was offered to 2 children a night and then on a risk assessed basis around need and complexity. However, by April 2021, the offer of overnight short breaks was to all children accessing the services. The service has been valued highly by families especially as some of the children were not in school.
The additional vulnerabilities of Care Leavers was recognised, particularly around isolation and so support was increased over the last year. This was not only in terms of visits and contact but also practical support such as food, toiletries, and activities. Care Leavers have been disproportionately impacted in terms of employment. Many Care leavers found employment in the retail and services sectors, often this work was casual in nature and as such their employment ended without protection. There was a lot of work to do to try and address the number of young people not in education, employment and training (NEET) in the care experienced population and the Service was working with colleagues in adult learning to finalise plans.
The New Belongings survey was completed during lockdown and the results outlined 10 ‘Bright Spots’ of practice (good practice) and a number of areas to focus on: -
· Having a good friend
· Having a trusted person
· Coping financially
· Experience anxiety
· Happy with appearance
Young people have been involved in the development of an action plan and delivery of the action plan has been adopted as one of the priorities for the Corporate Parenting Forum.
The Assistant Director Safeguarding and Children’s Services reported that it had been a challenging time for the Fostering community, but they had been amazing in their support to children in their care. As reported in September 2020, it remained the case that no Foster
Carers had decided to end their care of children as a result of the pandemic. They have
continued to offer placements to children even when at times of crisis, there may have been worries about infection risks and this was evidence of the absolute commitment of Foster Carers to children in care. ... view the full minutes text for item CES5
To update the Committee on the learning from the Serious Case Review
The Sub-Committee considered a Report on the learning from Serious Case Review (SCR) Jasmine published in April 2021
The SCR had been commissioned in July 2019 by North Tyneside Safeguarding Board (NTSCB) in line with statutory guidance at that time. An Independent Reviewer was commissioned to facilitate the review process and complete the report. The Review was completed in September 2020 but could not be published until criminal proceedings had concluded.
The purpose of a SCR was to undertake a rigorous analysis of the contact Jasmine and her family had with services to try and understand what happened and why. The organisations responsible for services could then identify any lessons to be learnt which could be used to improve services and reduce any future risk of harm to children and young people.
The Safeguarding Partners were resolved to act on the learning and a detailed action plan was in place which identified achievable and measurable actions to act on the learning identified in the Review.
Members discussed the issues raised in the Report and in the course of the discussion raised the following points:
- A Member expressed concern that the perpetrator had been allowed to go back to the family home, that the child had been let down by Services and that the sexual abuse would impact on the child and family and affect the child’s mental health.
The Review found that Jasmine’s allegation against P was taken seriously, discussed with agency partners and actions taken in line with child protection procedures. However, Jasmine’s retraction of her allegation and the response to it was not discussed with agency partners and was not subject to the same degree of scrutiny. Her refusal to cooperate and the letter she sent stating she had made up the abuse did not spark healthy skepticism and was not sufficiently explored with her. The important role of trusted relationships with vulnerable children and young people to enable them to talk about their experiences was highlighted.
It was noted that to support practitioners in this complex area of work the Safeguarding Partnership had developed training which considered child sexual abuse from the child’s perspective and included why children may retract statements of sexual abuse and how they can be best supported when they do so. Feedback in relation to the value and relevance of the training had been positive.
- Members referred to the child’s retraction of her allegation and the response to it not being discussed with agency partners and asked what action Children’s Social care would be taking in the future to make sure this does not happen again.
It was reported that going forward as part of the training there would be multi agency involvement and the procedures emphasised and shared with agencies and other local authorities on retractions.
- A Member expressed concern that the views of the articulate professional parent had been listened to at the expense of the child’s view in this case.
The learning identified ... view the full minutes text for item CES6
To receive an update on School Clothing
The Sub-Committee considered a report by the Assistant Director for Education on School Clothing.
The number of children on income related free school meals had increased from 6225 (Jan 2020 census) to 7025 (Student Support data May 2021).
The Council had started to address this by supplying every child on income related free school meals with vouchers worth £45.
The vouchers were split into £20 for the school uniform supplier to spend on the logoed item and a £25 supermarket voucher to buy the generic items.
The vouchers had been split as using supermarkets was cheaper for the generic items than the uniform suppliers.
Through the engagement work in preparation for the Poverty Intervention Fund it was clear that the cost of the school day was seen as an issue for school age children.
The second phase of the project was to support schools with some funding to help out other families who were struggling with school clothing but were not on free school meals.
There was also a stock of new school clothing to give to families who had not received the vouchers. Most of it was primary aged clothing but there was also stock suitable for secondary aged children. The stock included shoes, winter coats and PE kits as the project had been about school appropriate clothing not just uniform. The stock was housed at the Council for Voluntary Service with access through the Participation Advocacy and Engagement Team and schools could refer families in for support.
In order to address inequalities, over the coming academic year, a Poverty Proofing the School Day project would give every school in the borough the opportunity to work with Children North East to look at their school day. This was a longer term project but would look at all aspects of the school day and the costs associated with this. The schools themselves would have an individual action plan and the Service would be able to pull together the picture across the authority to assess what support families needed.
It was noted that Greenfields Community Primary School were changing their uniform so that families could buy generic items from supermarkets and then purchase a logo from the school to attach the badge which only cost £1.
A School’s Governing Body decided on a school’s uniform policy and most schools signposted to local supermarkets.
Many schools had their own uniform clothing schemes or had a collection bin from the Community School Clothing Scheme.
The Chair thanked the Assistant Director of Education for the Report and for attendance at the meeting.
To receive a proposed outline work programme for 2021/2022
The Sub-committee received a report which asked Members to consider and agree a work programme for the municipal year 2021/2022.
A proposed outline work programme was attached at Appendix 1. Members of the Sub-committee were invited to raise any other topics relevant to the remit of the Sub-committee that they thought should be included in the work programme and the following were suggested:
- Impact of Poverty Intervention Fund
- Poverty Proofing Audit Findings (January/March)
- Early Language Development
- Long term disadvantage
- Mental health refresh – impact on first tranche
It was agreed that these topics together with any additional topics raised by Members would be scheduled accordingly in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair