Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Children & Young People Sub-Committee
Tuesday, 23rd June, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting is being held remotely; to view the meeting, please click here

Contact: Stephanie Davis
02087266000 x84384  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence from any members of the Committee.



Apologies received from Elaine Jones.


Minutes of the previous sub-committee meeting pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 3 March 2020 as an accurate record.



The minutes of the meeting on 3 March 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.


Disclosures of interest

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.



There were no disclosures of interest.


Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.


There were none.


Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Service (Formerly CAMHS) pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive an update on the Covid-19 response.

(Presentation to follow)


The Head of Commissioning and Procurement introduced the item and advised that the presentation would be taken in three sections by the guests invited to the meeting to represent organisations that provided well-being services to vulnerable young people in the borough.


The Director of Off the Record presented her organisations response and the following was highlighted:


  • Initially all face to face contact was suspended during lockdown and following reconfiguration, services were had resumed using remote means of  access
  • There had been an initial decrease in self referrals which had now increased with referrals for online counselling services doubling.
  • Young carer’s services had been prioritised during the pandemic due to distinct vulnerabilities of this group.
  • Regular telephone contact was maintained with young refugees.
  • The service was redesigned as staying in touch was important for young people. Looking ahead the service would retain some of the online service as it had been vital in maintaining contact with young people


The Director of Croydon Drop-in presented and the following was noted:


  • All intervention services had moved online with staff and young people adapting well which meant resources were being utilised effectively.
  • Clinical supervision of staff remained the same and a staff self-care group had been set up on WhatsApp for regular contact.
  • Due to the use of online resources the service had been able to maintain more contact with parents and guardians
  • Ongoing counselling support has been maintained



The Service Director of CAMHS, SLAM NHS presented and the following was highlighted:


  • The service continued to maintain some face to face interactions, including crisis care and in-patient services. In response to the pandemic and lockdown, the crisis telephone line was expanded.
  • There had been a decrease in the number of referrals received in the initial stages of the lockdown, this had been steadily increasing following the lifting of restrictions.
  • The service experienced an increase in in-patient admissions and crisis calls
  • Reset strategy in place and set within national context with remote working continuing to be the standard way of working where possible.


Following the presentations, the sub-committee was able to ask officers questions.


A Member asked how the Croydon Drop-in was prepared for future ways of working. The officer responded that they would continue to utilise and invest in technology. Staff had undertaken additional training which had increased skills among the workforce. They would offer face to face contact where possible, but the reality was that an increased level of remote contact would continue to take place.


It was further asked if any children had lost out on support as a result of restrictions and what checks were being undertaken to identify children that had been disadvantaged. Officers acknowledged that in the beginning of lockdown there has been a decrease in referral, with colleagues asked to be cautious of referring. In particular there had been a decrease in referrals for autism assessments through CAMHS due to the face to face interaction required for assessments which would not be undertaken. Referrals are now open to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26/20


Children's Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 218 KB

To receive the outcome of the re inspection of Croydon’s Early help and Children’s Social Care and to scrutinise the draft Improvement Plan 2020-22.

           (The draft Children’s Continuous Plan for Improvement 2020/22 to follow)                                    

Additional documents:


The Executive Director of Children Families and Education presented the report which detailed the draft Children’s Improvement Plan 2020/21, which had been revised following the outcome of the Ofsted standard ILACS inspection of Early Help and Children’s Social Care.


The outcome of the re-inspection in February 2020 resulted in a Good Judgement for Croydon’s Children’s Services, with the Publication of the Ofsted letter in March 2020 which detailed the dramatic improvements that had been made since the last inspection in 2017.


The transformation of the service through strong leadership both corporate and political and the investment in exceptional senior staff and social workers was commended.


There were areas highlighted as still requiring improvement with four recommendations made in the following areas:


  • The quality of written plans for children in need, children in care and care leavers.
  • Services provided to homeless 16- and 17-year-olds.
  • Services for care leavers, particularly the range of suitable accommodation, responses to emotional health needs and preparation for independence.
  • Placement sufficiency for children in care, and accommodation for care leavers.

As a result, the Improvement plan had been refreshed with actions to address these recommendations. The final plan would be presented to Cabinet in July 2020.


The Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the content of the report.


A Member challenged that success measures needed to be ‘smarter’ with metrics to enable the measurement and benchmarking of performance. It was felt that the current process did not enable the robust measurement of progress made. Officers acknowledged this and advised that an action plan was being drawn up which would address these concerns including a dashboard of metrics which would be sent to Ofsted and could be shared with the Sub-Committee.


A Member highlighted that the lack of up to date information on KPI dashboards had hampered the effectiveness of Scrutiny as well as impacting upon the enablement of the digital aspects of the service moving forward at pace. Officers agreed that in the past this had been an issue and made reference to the fact that this had now improved, as there was now performance rich data available as a result of the extensive work carried out by the Programme Director for the improvement journey as well as the Performance Team. It was agreed that some data was not available in real time in particular when relying on regional or national data.


It was asked how the improvement in social work practice and morale as referenced in the Ofsted report was being used in the recruitment of practitioners. Officers said that improvement in this area had been excellent for staff and Croydon’s reputation, which was getting stronger, will attract more staff. There has been a lot of work carried out using social media and networking opportunities to recruit good social workers. A successful international recruitment drive had taken place and 23 social workers from South Africa would arrive in September and October.


It was further questioned how exact the 20% average agency vacancy rate  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27/20


Children's services response to COVID 19 pdf icon PDF 394 KB

To scrutinise the response to the Covid-19 crisis.

Additional documents:


The Director for Early Help and Children’s Social Care presented the report which detailed the Council’s response to the Covid 19 crisis and the support in place for vulnerable children. The following was highlighted:


  • There had been a reduction in referrals during lockdown and in the first week post lockdown, there has been an increase which coincided with more children attending school. It was anticipated that there would be further increases for which the department was prepared.
  • Social workers had continued to conduct face to face visits where appropriate during lockdown, using PPE and conducting risk assessments prior to visits.
  • One of the advantages and points of learning to working virtually was the increased and improved communication with families. The ability to engage through social media has allowed young people to engage in ways that had not been done before.


The Interim Director of Education provided the following highlights:


  • Partners had worked collaboratively to co-ordinate their response.
  • PPE starter packs were supplied to schools and special schools.
  • The welfare of children and families was at the fore front of the response by ensuring the provision of food for vulnerable families and those in receipt of free school meals.
  • During lockdown there were 300 children in attendance at schools in the borough, this had now increased significantly.
  • Priority was now to plan ahead for full school reopening in September 2020, with targeted provision and support due to the length of period children have not been able to attend school.
  • The Service was working with Public Health on posters and leaflets for schools and parents on how to keep children safe, recognising and reporting symptoms. Transition guidance was also in productions for schools.
  • The greatest concern was children that had not been able to access education for a number of reasons and being able to support them back into school. Mental health and the wellbeing of pupils would be a priority as well and bridging attainment gaps.


The Head Teacher of All Saints Schools conveyed that communication from the Council had been good, with the regular contact through the school’s link officers encouraging. The localities aspect of children’s services had worked well in promoting cohesiveness as it allowed for regular meetings between schools in the same demographics to share learning.


Officers and schools were commended and thanked for all their hard work during this difficult time.


Following presentations, the Sub-Committee was given the opportunity to raise questions.


A Member asked how the reporting of safeguarding concerns to the SPOC had been made during this period when vulnerable children were not coming in to contact with services that would usually refer them. Officers said that it was of great concern that there were children that would have experienced hardship during this period. As the pandemic was moving into a recovery period, core services were coming into increasing contact with children, leading to improved line of visibility with the needs of children responded to appropriately.


A question was raised on how the needs of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28/20


What difference has this meeting made to Croydon's children

To discuss the findings from this meeting and the expectations for Croydon’s Children.



The Sub-Committee welcomed the opportunity to delve into the details of the Council’s response to Children’s care and Educational needs which had been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 emergency and imposition of lock down restrictions. It was agreed that this would continue to be a priority area of scrutiny for the coming months.



Work Programme 2020/21

To discuss the work programme for the meeting of 15 September 2020 of the Sub-Committee.


It was confirmed that that meeting of 17 September 2020 would include the following agenda items:


  • Children’s Social Care Dashboards
  • Update on Covid 19 response
  • Update on Education Health and Care Plans