Cllr Michelline Ngongo, Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families presented the report which covered the period October 2020-July 2021 and gave a presentation entitled “Their Ambitions, Our Future: Children and young people at the centre”.
Councillor Ngongo thanked Councillor Comer-Schwartz for her work prior to Councillor Ngongo taking over as Executive Member for Children, Young People and Families in January 2021.
In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:
· During lockdown council services supported children and young people in the following ways:
o The children of critical workers, vulnerable children with a social worker and those with an EHCP were supported to attend school;
o Free Wi-Fi was given to care leavers;
o Devices were organised and allocated to support children with their learning;
o Food parcel deliveries were given to vulnerable families in partnership with voluntary sector partners;
o There was investment in supporting the increasing need for social, emotional and mental health support;
o Key services for children and young people including early years and childcare settings, adventure playgrounds, youth centres and hubs and libraries were open to those who needed them;
o Face to face contact with children during the pandemic was based on a dynamic risk assessment of the need for multi-agency support;
o Face to face contact with children, young people and their parents/carers for other services was resumed gradually;
o Programmes of work aimed to ensure that groups such as Black Caribbean pupils made good progress and attained as well as their peers;
o Actions were taken forward from the joint study with the Youth Justice Board to address the disproportionality of Black, Asian and other minority ethnic young people in the youth justice system;
o Community safety issues for young people were addressed.
· Councillor Ngongo had set five priorities as follows:
1) To have a Parent Voice Forum to guide parents to find support, to provide training and help parents to learn from each other. The group met once a month and chose the topic for each meeting.
2) To have a Young People’s Forum led by young people. Subjects included GCSES and help with CVs. Someone from the Job Centre had recently attended along with a member of the Youth Employment Team to give advice.
3) Book boxes. 100 books had been distributed to the Mother Tongue Supplementary Schools.
4) Youth procurement and provision. Meetings between local councillors, parents, young people, schools and the community could help improve services.
5) No Need to Exclude involved looking at what could be done differently to look at the root cause of a child behaving badly and how the child could be helped.
· Work was taking place to “Imagine, Ignite and Inspire” a Fair Islington for children and young people ensuring they were safe, cared for, could succeed in learning and thrive post-Covid.
· It was important to build relationships and work in full collaboration with children and young people at the centre as well as rebuilt back better after Covid.
· An away day had been held for members of the Corporate Parenting Board and lifelong parenting had been discussed.
· Councillor Ngongo would be having a meeting with government officials about funding and support for children and young people in a post-Covid Islington.
· There would be a future focus on helping young people with employment and skills.
· Lifelong learning and enrichment would enable and empower children, young people and adults with the learning and skills for life, work and the future of work supported by a high quality and high performing, inclusive education and skills system.
· Early help and working together for a safer Islington would enable and deliver system-wide approaches with local partners to intervene early and prevent problems from escalating among children, young people, their families and the wider community.
· There would be a holiday activity and food offer with several school willing to facilitate activities.
· Work was taking place to empower children, young people and adults to have choice and control over their care and support based on what mattered to them, their individual strengths and needs to build on the expertise of people, families and communities.
· An event had been held to thank foster carers.
· Work was taking place to maximise independence to enable young people and adults who required support to either transition to and/or live healthy, independent and fulfilled lives with strong networks.
· As part of the Children’s Social Care Transformation Programme families willing to foster but with insufficient space were being assisted to address this.
· Where putting children and young people into care was likely to increase risk and/or not improve their outcomes, prevention services worked intensively with each family to maintain their child in the community.
· As part of the work to reinvent and rebuild,the talents of staff and learning from Covid-19 would help design forward differently to help Islington recover.
· Working would take place in partnership with schools to identify and facilitate their work to support children in a post-Covid community
· Work would take place with Early Years, Childcare and Bright Start to help the take-up of places for early years and childcare recover to pre-Covid levels and return to high levels of face to face Bright Start activity for families with young children.
· A member commented on the exceptional response during the pandemic and stated that although Covid restrictions had been lifted, there was still much uncertainty and sustained efforts would be required to help children move on from Covid-19.
That the presentation be noted.