Councillor M Simmons, Chair of the Corporate Parenting Panel (CPP) presented the Annual Report for information, following endorsement at Cabinet on 14 September 2022.
Councillor Simmons thanked the officers from the Corporate Parenting Panel along with all of the young people who had made the Annual Report possible.
The annual report covered the period April 2021 to March 2022 and covered a wide range of work taking place across the board to support the children and young people in our care, as well as our care leavers.
Councillor Simmons alluded to some of the 2021-22 achievements CPP were particularly proud of, including college bus pass deductions no longer being taken from care experienced young people’s bursaries at new College Durham.
In addition, all care experienced young people in County Durham who were in years 12 and 13 had been awarded an ‘all time top up bus pass’ to use anytime, not just when they were going to college.
Further discussions around transport were continuing into 2022/23, as this continued to be a challenge, particularly for care leavers.
Another achievement was the Art Stops initiative, which had been hugely successful, and had helped to increase positive images and reduce stigma of Care Experience young people with their art work and designs being displayed on bus stops across the County.
Although the recent Ofsted inspection fell outside of the Annual Reports timeframes, the results were certainly an achievement, with us being graded as ‘good’ overall with the impact of leaders on social work practice being ‘outstanding’. In addition, Ofsted noted our Corporate Parenting Strategy being noted as ambitious.
Work was continuing to address the 2022-23 priorities identified in the annual report, which include personalised care, staff in Children’s Homes and Foster Carers, and Family Time and Councillor Simmons looked forward to providing a progress update in the next annual report. She added that throughout the year CPP continued to meet with young people from the children in care council, who held us to account on the progress we were making against these priorities, and rightly so. She thanked everyone involved in the work of the Corporate Parenting Panel and introduced Luke, a member of the Children in Care Council, and one of the co-opted members of the Corporate Parenting Panel.
Luke explained to members how young people contributed to, and influenced the work that took place across the service to improve outcomes for young people, like himself who was care experienced.
He said that he loved the quote on the front of the Annual Report ’children are like boats and just need a little bit of guidance to go down the right path’ which he found so true, and he added that CPP helped to promote that they were more than ‘children in care’ that they were young people with a range of skills, abilities and talents. To support this, he explained how service leads now shared proud moments and at each CPP meeting to showcase some of their achievements, no matter how big or small.
Luke went on to explain that one of the key things discussed this year had been the use of language, and the importance of using words and phrases that young people were familiar with and more importantly, that they understood. Language was personal to each young person, and in response to discussions they had had, their care plans now reflected their own preferences.
He was looking forward to the proposed development of a young people’s Scrutiny Panel where young people would ask questions, review services, and make recommendations for improvements and he would encourage young people to get involved in this.
Across the year lots of work had been done, but there was still a lot to do. Luke was confident that young people were being listened to, and their ideas were being actioned.
Luke thanked all of the elected members for being corporate parents and for the opportunity to attend this meeting, and to be involved in this work to make positive changes for other young people.
Councillor Gunn commented that the clear message in the report was that the voice of the young person was crucial, and thanked Luke for speaking at the meeting.
(a) That the content of the Corporate Parenting Panel Annual Report be noted;
(b) That the Corporate Parenting Panel Annual Report, which provided oversight of the work undertaken during 2021-22, and the priorities for the year ahead be endorsed.