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Agenda item

Draft Children's Strategy


The Committee received a report of the Director of Transformation and Partnerships which presented the draft Children and Young People’s Strategy (for copy see file of minutes).


The Head of Strategy presented the key aims of the new Children and Young People’s Strategy and Members were invited to comment.  She referred to areas which had been revised following the comments received at the meeting on 2 July 2018.


Councillor Brookes commented on the design being helpful and east to understand, but he suggested that the challenge was implementation and ensuring that the milestones set out from the beginning were met and agencies were monitored to ensure delivery.  The Head of Strategy agreed that delivery was the biggest challenge, however the document was designed to be a working document which incorporated delivery frameworks and would be regularly monitored and performance analysed.  The draft strategy had been developed in conjunction with other Senior Managers and Partners were determined to ensure this document was to be used regularly.


In response to a further question from Councillor Brookes regarding whether Liquid Logic would be used for monitoring the data, the Head of Strategy confirmed that it was a critical element of the new system as not everything was recorded on the current system SIDS.  Liquid Logic would expand the number of services and once it had been fully implemented the data would be easier to extract and reduce the number of hours officers currently had to spend on data analysis.


Councillor McKeon was pleased that the improvement of speech and language was included as one of the core deliverable as in her experience as a School Governor, many Reception teachers had noticed a decline in the standard of speech on entry to Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and this was not linked to social background.  Councillor McKeon queried what part of the new strategy would cover the early years and the Deputy Director of Public Health confirmed that ensuring a child had the best start in life was an objective which covered the early developmental stages from conception to 2.5 years.  A multi-agency approach would improve child development, using services such as libraries to focus on reading and ensure children were ready to learn.  Although Councillor McKeon was impressed with the use of libraries, she referred to smaller communities without libraries and queried whether other community buildings would be used.  The Deputy Director of Public Health confirmed that Health Visitors would assist in developing the reach of the programmes.


Councillor Hall referred to issues which did not meet the threshold of being dealt with by the police or local authorities and gaps which could be filled by the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).  He queried whether a separate strategy could assist in developing the VCS to fill those gaps and the Head of Strategy suggested that the VCS was an area which had a lot of activity in relation to children and young people and it was important that this was discussed in order to see if this could be incorporated.  The Chairman also referred to the importance of AAP engagement with the VCS and highlighted that children and young people were usually high up in their priorities set out.


The Head of Education confirmed that if implemented in full, the strategy would assist in managing the health and wellbeing of children.  He referred to the comments regarding gaps in provision and alternative education as being a priority.  The Service was currently having to rely on out of County provision due to budget constraints and this would be addressed if a recent application for funding from the DfE was successful.


In response to a question from Councillor Patterson regarding potential risks due to financial pressures, the Head of Education confirmed that this year the Council had been in receipt of the best exam results they had ever had and this proved that schools in County Durham were competent.  He added that because of budget restraints, only a successful bid would ensure the Council could fill the gap in alternative provision.


The Overview and Scrutiny Officer confirmed that Mrs Evans had sent comments via email adding that she would also like to see children and young people consulted on economic and planning policies.

Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714