Agenda item

Independent Reviewing Service Performance Management Report QTR 2 2021 - 2022


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 Indicators.


On the 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.


Sian 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 improvement.


In 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.


There was 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.


Research 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.


Since the 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.


Sian 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.


Reviews 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.


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