Robert Johnson, Project Manager, Investing in Children (IIC), and, Mitchell Green of the Children in Care Council (CiCC) delivered a presentation which focused on activities by the Children in Care Council from March 2020 until February 2021 (for copy see file of minutes).
Taking the Panel through the presentation, Mitchell and Robert highlighted areas of activity including the following:
· The production of four Children in Care Council newsletters which include articles and stories written by the young people.
· A number of Children in Care Council members had been involved in a feel-good project, the 2020 Summer Pack project, during the pandemic.
· Funding has been secured to work with the Full Circle Team to enhance therapy support centres, which will be carried out with input from the young people.
· The young people are continuing their work with the Social Work Academy, with the Children in Care Council taking care messages to trainee social workers.
· Training with foster carers is going well, with further opportunities to introduce younger members of the Council to this training.
· Young People are attending and presenting at Independent Review Officer team meetings and a sub-group of younger members, new to Investing in Children, has been formed to meet with IROs, to share ideas and reflect on experiences.
· The young people of the CiCC continue to raise its profile with the website being launched on Care Day, Friday 19 February. The young people have also been developing a podcast.
· Work to develop poetry skills is ongoing and a poem written by one of the young people had been re-tweeted by the Children’s Commissioner for England.
· ‘Mini-CPP’ meetings have been introduced to enable young people to comment on events over the last twelve months. This initiative has been very well received.
· Links with the Virtual School and designated teachers has played a vital role during the period and will continue to do so as young people return to education establishments following the pandemic. Young people had attended a session with designated leads, to deliver key messages.
· As a result of discussions at CiCC meetings regarding the importance of seeing friends, this is now included in Care Reviews. The young people have also continued their discussions on the importance of pets and animals and how this aligns with relationship building.
· Awareness has increased in relation to travel bursaries and the Council has taken steps to liaise with higher education colleges to discuss their approach to supporting students.
· Child-friendly policing work is being done to develop training with the police in County Durham.
· A ‘Positive Matters’ campaign was launched at a meeting with the Corporate Parenting Panel, to challenge stigma.
· Engagement with the Regional Care Council is ongoing.
· Members were encouraged to read to an impressive article written by a young person published in thelatest Children in Care Council newsletter, entitled ‘Video Games, Good or Bad?’
The Chair thanked Robert and Mitchell for all the good work being carried out.
Picking up on the work with pets, Councillor Charlton commented how she had observed the positive impact a dog had on pupils at a local school, particularly those experiencing emotional issues. The Chair responded that on update on pets was to be provided later in the meeting.