Councillor Alun Williams (Cabinet Member for
Porth Cynnal) presented the Independent Reviewing
Service Report Quarter 2 2021/2022. Quarterly reports are taken to the
Healthier Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of an ongoing
examination of the topic to ensure that the Local Authority fulfils its duties
as the Corporate Parent. The report includes national and local standards and
targets used to measure outcomes for looked after children and care leavers at
the time of their review meeting and includes Welsh Government Performance
basis of the information available and the views expressed during the review
meeting, the IRO makes a professional judgement about the effectiveness of a
child/young person’s care plan in meeting their needs and may recommend changes
to the care plan. During the review meeting the IRO considers whether the
child/young person requires assistance to identify relevant other people to
obtain legal advice/take proceedings on their behalf. This action was not
deemed necessary by the IRO for any child in the period. In addition, the IRO
has regard as to whether the child/young person’s human rights are being
breached in any way and, if so, might make a referral to CAFCASS Cymru. This action was not required at any of the review
meetings in the period.
Councillor Alun Williams proceeded to present a
Summary of the Key Points noted on page 2 of the report.
Howys noted that the impact of Covid-19 continues, which has led to increased
workloads and statutory duties but the collaboration across the Through Age and
Wellbeing Model has been positive. Given the circumstances and the pressure on
staff, the report was pleasing and they were aware of the areas in need of
response to a question, Sian Howys noted there was a national shortage of
foster carers in general, but encouraging bilingualism was the aim. There was
an ongoing recruitment campaign for foster carers.
Due to a
shortage of foster carers, children were either placed in county or with foster
carers who work for Independent Fostering Agencies who live in West Wales or
nearby. No children were placed with foster carers in England, however, there
were children placed with family members outside of Wales.
some use of residential placements in England due to the lack of availability
in Ceredigion. Planning Permission has been granted for a small residential
care home in the Dyffryn Aeron area. Posts have been
advertised. More information will be shared in due course. The need for
placements due to offending were generally low in Ceredigion as was the need
for specialist placements such as hospitalisations.
into Children’s Social Care by Cardiff University has been published. Officers
will be encouraged to read the report. Welsh Government have identified
reducing the number of children in care as a priority; Sian Howys highlighted
that this must be done safely.
beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to increased pressures on
families, the number of Looked after children has increased. It was suggested
that an increase in numbers reflects that children are being seen by professionals
and that officers are conducting their work well.
Howys clarified that the active offer of advocacy was not only determined by
age, but also cognitive or emotional functioning. A considerable amount of time
and effort is given by carers or a trusted individual to gain the views of each
child. Where necessary, the IRO can arrange a 1-1 meeting with the child or
someone that is known to the child.
have been held virtually. One foster carer review was held out of timescales
due to a staffing issue. As reviews are chaired by a member from outside the
team for objectivity, it has been challenging to meet timescales with absences
and covering gaps in staffing.
Committee Members thanked Sian Howys for a
comprehensive report and asked her to express their thanks to the department
for their hard work.
Following questions by the Members of the
Committee, it was agreed to note the contents of the report and the levels of
activity within the Local Authority.