Rachel Harris, Service Improvement Manager and Lee Peacock, Participation and Engagement Officer presented the Participation and Engagement, for copy of report see file of minutes).
The Service Improvement Manager explained that participation and engagement ensures young people and their families are involved in the development of the service and this approach enables practitioners to see matters from a service user’s perspective. Information was provided on actions to strengthen the voices of children and young people, including the Mind of My Own app. The Panel noted that the Ofsted inspection in May 2022 highlighted the use of family feedback which is of benefit to inform practice. Audits show significant improvements have been achieved with regard to the use of language and the ‘Language that Cares’ guidance continues to be used in staff training and practice. The Service Improvement Manager referred to the value of the support provided by a care experienced youth support apprentice who works alongside the Participation and Engagement Officer.
The Panel noted that the participation and engagement work supports the work of the Children in Care Council and this is reciprocated by the Children in Care Council through their involvement in various consultation, training and participation groups.
The Service Improvement Manager outlined key priority areas for the future which include analysing learning from young people and their carers to identify suggested actions.
Work had commenced on improving access to personal records, following conversations with the young people and, in response to discussions at Corporate Parenting Panel meetings, plans are in place to develop a poetry book. Further work will be undertaken to support those young people who live outside the county, to ensure their voices are heard and plans are progressing to establish a care experienced scrutiny group, to further influence developments within children’s social care.
The Panel welcomed the plans for the poetry book and requested that the book should be made available to all schools in due course.
In response to a question as to how the voices of children with special educational needs are captured, officers highlighted that they have a dedicated participation and engagement group and direct work is carried out by specialists within the Children with Disabilities team who have a range of tools at their disposal to capture the views of non-verbal children. The Participation and Engagement Officer added that he carries out work alongside the Children with Disabilities team to enhance the participation and engagement work. In addition, practitioners are offered ‘Theraplay’ training to better understand how to support relationships through play-based activities.
In response to a comment from the Panel as to how the service measures the success of the Mind of My Own app, the Service Improvement Manager pointed out the app is one of many communication tools, in addition to the direct work conducted by practitioners. She acknowledged that take-up of the app could be improved and that the situation was being monitored. She highlighted advantages of the app include that information from the app enables themes to be established and the app provides young people with the opportunity to write directly in their file.
Councillor Hunt requested an update on the work of the Adolescent Sexual Exploitation Team (ASET) and officers clarified the area is the remit of the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, however information which had previously been presented to the Corporate Parenting Panel in respect of the ASET work would be recirculated to Councillor Hunt.
That the content of the report be noted.