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Strategy Group 14 June 2021

if you require previous minutes please contact Emma Moore at

Strategy members



Emma Welcomed Julie Mepham who has joined the meeting today.

Julie introduced herself to the group and advised she has been in post a while and has been asked by Devon to stay until next May.  Julie manages the Corporate Parenting Service, which includes fostering, permanently looked after children, the Atkinson Unit and the kinship care service.  Julie’s previous role for 2 years was as Assistant Director.  Julie’s history has been Head of Service for Corporate Parenting for Local Authorities in permanent and interim roles.  Julie has a lot of experience particularly around care leavers.  Julie has taken other Local Authorities to outstanding.  Julie is not based in Devon and lives in Sheffield but comes to Devon for one week every month.  When she is in Devon she spends 3 days together with the Area Managers so that they get quality time together.

Good New Stories

Emma advised that she wishes to start with a positive for today’s agenda and future agendas and invited any good news stories. Ian shared how impressive children’s medical services are at Derriford hospital.  They felt really supported and the service was first class. Glyn advised that since the last meeting, older children in GCSE years have completed their assessments.  Through all the disruption a lot of them have come out really positively.  The young people have been flexible and adaptable and schools have also bent over backwards.  It would be a good idea to mark achievements in some way for those young people including A Levels and other educational achievements. Kim stated that she has a really nice experience of working with the social worker and IRO last week after the dad appeared for the baby they have with them.  There can be a lot of negativity around the children’s team and people are quick to criticise.  Kim felt really listened to and the team around the child seem to be working really well together.  Nicky advised that the young lady that she used to looked after is totally settled with a small family of her own and she is doing really well.

Previous Minutes

Respite – there was a request that there was some thought about replacing the word respite.  Emma will go back to the management group to make a decision.  The options are; short breaks, sleepovers, family holiday and children’s holiday.  Short breaks is a term that is used by the disabled children’s service and is also implies that carers need a break from the child.  Julie advised that a lot of other Local Authorities use sleepovers.  The meeting requested that any suggestions are brought back to this group before a final decision is made.

State of the nation survey – Emma asked if people looked at this. Emma will check if this has come to an end and put it in the newsletter again.

£30 allowance – this was discussed at the last meeting.  Glyn raised that this is a classic example of it not coming to this meeting before it was finalised.  There was no disagreement with the decision or the principle, it was the way it was implemented.  Julie advised that she appreciates it did cause some ripples and it has been looked at it again for a number of young people.

Skills audit – Cathy Dickson is looking at this and is due back this week after being in hospital.

Internet access – this has still not been resolved and needs to be off the agenda for now as it is discussed every time.  Jo Partridge was taking this on so Emma will discuss this with Jo.  Julie advised that young people live their lives on the internet and to take young people out of that lived experience is difficult for that child to experience.  There is research evidence to show that some young people have killed themselves as they are alienated from their peer group.  There are also issues with bullying, so it is a fine line.  Predominant research says internet access shouldn’t be taken away from children as this is how they connect now.  The worst thing to say to a child is “give me your phone” and evidence says this is the last thing you should do.  It will be difficult to have a blanket rule as it is about every individual child.

Ian advised that schools in the Multi Academy Trust have gone for a traffic light system to encourage children to use phones in a safe way.  The meeting agreed that a smaller group will be set up to discuss this.  Debbie and Ian agreed to be involved and anyone else interested can email Jackie.  PJ raised that it would be good for Reach to be involved as they have taken 4 weeks to meet with a child following an incident.  Agreed PJ will email Emma with the details and she will follow this up.

Corporate Parenting

Glyn raised that he has been a representative on the corporate members group for quite a while now and if someone else would like to take it on, he would be happy for this.  Kim has done it in the past.  The current meetings have been very dominant with the Ofsted inspection.  The meetings are held bi-monthly.  It has been more difficult on Teams to have an input.  There is a good crossover with county councillors.  Julie advised that James McInnes is no longer the lead for Children’s Services, which is a huge loss.  The lead is now Andrew Leadbetter.  James and Andrew have swapped roles.  Julie generally previously had monthly catch ups with James.

The framework for the corporate parenting group is currently being looked at and they are also looking at a  corporate parenting board that sits underneath this to feed into the corporate members group.  Julie is really keen to have foster carers on this group.  The next meeting is 22nd July.

The meeting agreed to discuss this again next month to see if there is anyone interested in taking this over from Glyn.  Emma advised she would like Glyn to continue for now as he is doing an amazing job but would like someone else to work alongside Glyn.

Confidentiality Issues

Debbie advised that this has been raised by a few foster carers as once a young person is 18 they can voice whether they want information shared or not.  There has been an example of safeguarding issues where the young person had informed the carers and the PA advised they were not able to share the information.

Julie advised that information about an adult cannot be shared unless an adult agrees.  Most young people sign an agreement as they are coming up to 18 as information has to be shared with other agencies and foster carers could be added to this list.  If young people refuse, there isn’t anything that be done about it.

Emma advised that they will be introducing a staying put worker to work with foster carers who are working with young people aged 18+ and they are in the early stages of working out a plan of how to do this.  It is hoped this will launch on 01.09.21.  Julie advised she will talk to the PA service.

Emergency Bed Carers

Phil advised that the advertising campaign for the emergency scheme has gone reasonably well, which feels positive.   Emma added that there have been 12 expressions of interest from the public who would like to think about being emergency carers.  Some of them are from IFA’s.  There are 2 initial visits planned for next week and another 4 planned for the next 4 weeks. Emma advised that this currently leaves a massive gap as there are no emergency carers.  There have been some offers for 0-5 years and they have tried to push for 0-10 years but the carers don’t feel they can.  Emma asked the group to let her know if there is anyone the carers know.

Youth Participation Update

Emma advised that there are currently 331 foster carers across Devon who care for approximately 575 of Devon’s children.

Ella advised that she is here today on behalf of the Participation Tam. Ella covers Mid and East Devon and there is a worker in each locality.  A new worker has just been recruited for Exeter.  Ella is currently also covering North Devon as the worker is off long-term sick. The team works with children in care who are aged 10+ and care leavers.  They promote the voice, opinions and wishes of young people to shape and change the service.  Stand Up, Speak Up is their slogan.  There is a broad range of activities to get young people involved.  When they get together they talk about their experiences and it is nice to hear them all relating to each other.

Ella shared two videos with the group (see links below); one made by young people to explain the team and one on language used and how this makes young people feel.

An introduction to the Devon Participation Team – YouTube

Language that Cares – YouTube

Ella also showed the group the timetable of groups and asked if carers have any young people who could attend the groups to let Ella know.

Emma advised that she would like the Participation Team to regularly come to this meeting, which she will follow up with the manager of the team.