Laura Eden presented the report which provided an update on progress being made in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of Islington’s most vulnerable children from 1 April 2020 to March 2021.
In the presentation and discussion the following main points were made:
· In response to a member’s question about domestic violence being the most common reason for contacts requesting a service, the officer advised that of the 11,147 new contacts in 2020/21, 15.6% of contacts were due to domestic violence and this was a 1% increase on the previous year.
· In response to a member’s question about whether changes in ways of working in Young People’s participation in CLA Reviews during Covid would continue post-Covid, the officer advised that successful ways of working would be continued. Many young people preferred virtual meetings and these would be continued where appropriate. Statutory in-person visits would still take place.
· A member asked if there would be any specific interventions and strategies in relation to anti-social behaviour and gang activity following lockdowns. The officer advised that preventative work continued to take place and work was undertaken with those who were most at risk at transition points including Years 6 and Years 7. Intensive work was also undertaken with families who had support for 20 hours a week to assist them and divert young people from criminal exploitation.
· In response to a member’s question about Islington having a higher rate of child protection plans than statistical neighbours, the officer advised that there were more strategy discussion and investigations than in other boroughs and that Islington constantly looked at the thresholds and looked at any areas where practice could be improved. Unlike other boroughs, Islington undertook child protection enquiries where adolescents alleged physical abuse but had no injuries for example and also utilised the child protection procedures for exploitation and serious youth violence whereas some boroughs did not. Although the council did not have to do this, Ofsted had found no fault with doing this.
· In response to a member’s question about how it was determined that a child with a Child Protection Plan was no longer in harm, the officer stated that good interventions could change parenting capacity. After having a Child Protection Plan, the aim was that a child became a Child in Need for at least six months and then stepped down to Early Help.
· In response to a question as to how children placed both in and out of borough were followed up, the officer advised that all children, whether in borough or out of borough, were seen every four weeks if in a short term placement or every six or eight weeks if in a long term placement. There was no difference in the social care interventions in or out of the borough but there could be a difference in educational support or emotional wellbeing support for example, also in Adventure Play or Youth provision Islington had a good offer. In relation to health, Islington did all the assessments for all children wherever they were placed, however Islington children had access to local support services e.g. CAMHS and support services could vary for those placed out of borough.
· A member asked about the four serious safeguarding incidents which produced Rapid Reviews. The officer stated that three of them related to serious youth violence and recommendations had been implemented. The other reviews undertaken had no theme. Action plans were monitored and recommendations had been implemented.
· In response to a member’s question about 36% of young people moving to semi-independent accommodation after their 18th birthday, the officer advised that young people already in semi-independent accommodation on their 18th birthday were not included in the figure. Few 18 year olds moved straight into secure tenancy accommodation as each individual was assessed regarding when they were ready, not when they reached an age limit. The House Project enabled 12 young people at a time to prepare for going into secure council accommodation early.
· In response to a question about 44 initial child protection conferences taking place after the 15 working day timescale from strategy discussion, the officer advised that although this was 10% below the London average, some boroughs had two discussions which affected their timescales. In Islington, conferences were only held when they were purposeful. It was recognised that some late bookings could be avoided.
· In response to a question about delayed timescales in the care planning for children under 6, the officer stated that this was affected by some family members not coming forward until the case was in court. Timescales would continue to be monitored.
· In response to a question about caseloads, the officer stated that the number was not set in legislation. If caseloads were too high, less direct work could take place. Direct work was important to work with children and improve the parenting capacity of parents. Students, who often stayed in Islington, and new staff, required smaller caseloads when they started and more supervision but in the long term this was worthwhile.
That the report be noted.