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Agenda item


To consider the Corporate Parent Panel 2021 Annual Report.


Ms Kirsty Fisher, Engagement Officer for Our Children attended the meeting with Chris, Sam, Shayne and Lita from Justuz and presented the Corporate Parent Panel Annual Report. In addition, Ms Fisher and the young people provided further information on the wider work of the Justuz young people’s Council.


The Committee was informed that Justuz had supported several co-production groups over the past year, which had looked at ways to improve and develop the support our children received from the Council’s workers and services. These included changes to young people’s health checks and the way in which care plans would be written to ensure the use of clear language and the removal of jargon. Lita informed Committee Members that the members of Justuz were proud to be able to use their knowledge and experience of being in care and recognised the value of working together to make improvements for all children and young people experiencing care in Blackpool.


Ms Fisher reported that a survey of all of our children aged eight years and over had recently been completed, and highlighted the following results:


·       The majority of young people felt safe and cared for where they lived;

·       They felt supported in school/college and had someone they could talk to if they needed some support;

·       They felt that the Council listened to them and they had good relationships with their support workers;

·       That the Council was ambitious for them and supported them to achieve their future goals;

·       They reported how they had been supported by their social workers and personal advisers;

·       That they were given choices and encouraged to take part in fun hobbies and activities;

·       That they were seeing the people who were important to them.


The survey results had also been used to identify areas which our children felt needed improvement:


·       That if a social worker was leaving the role they should always come and say goodbye and introduce their new worker;

·       They asked for more choice about where and who they lived with;

·       That they did not like having to change their social worker as they wanted to build a good trusting relationship with them;

·       They asked for a clear explanation as to why they were in care and needed a good understanding of their family history;

·       That although they did feel that the Council helped to prepare them for independence, the hardest thing about living by themselves was being lonely;

·       They would like more opportunities to undertake work experience.


The Committee was informed that the survey results would feed into the creation of a new Pledge, which would have a focus on relationships, education, care and respect, health and preparing for the future. Ms Fisher explained that the Pledge would link closely with the Our Children Strategy, the Permanency Strategy and Our Care Leavers Strategy in order to ensure that everyone was informed of what the promises were and how they would be delivered to our children and young people. Justuz would be leading on the design and overall look of the Pledge and a version using images would also be created for our younger children. On completion, Councillor representatives, the Chief Executive and Director of Children’s Services would be asked to sign the Pledge as a sign of their commitment to keeping the promises made.


The Committee questioned how those children aged under eight and those with additional needs had been surveyed. Ms Fisher advised that younger children were reviewed every six months in order to ascertain if they happy and if they enjoyed school. With regard to accessing children with additional needs, she reported that schools adapted the information in order to be accessible by each individual child and that all results had been included in the survey’s findings.


Details were provided of the creation of a new app to be utilised by social workers and our children and young people and which aimed to improve communication and information sharing. Ms Fisher advised that the app was now ‘live’ and was being rolled out to all social care staff and young people, with a campaign to raise awareness of its capabilities being planned.


The Committee discussed the changes made to our children’s health checks as a result of the work of Justuz, with Ms Fisher identifying that work had been undertaken in conjunction with Health services and as a result improvements had been implemented and were ongoing. She raised the issue of school nurses not being provided with mobile phones and identified the limitations regarding communicating appointment times to young people which resulted. Ms Fisher noted that improvements in communication between school nurses and our young people could result from the allocation of mobile phones and the Committee agreed to give further consideration to the issue.


Ms Fisher highlighted the ongoing ‘War Against Words’, reporting that the movement was going from strength to strength and would be further helped by changes being made to the language used in the Council’s electronic recording system. All banned words were to be removed from forms used by social workers and Justuz would continue to challenge and encourage the use of everyday language and promote the importance of carefully using words that showed our children that people cared.


The Committee questioned how the voice and opinion of those children and young people who did not engage in Justuz was accessed, with Ms Fisher acknowledging that reaching every child was a challenge. She informed the Committee that all children were visited by a social worker at least once every six weeks for a review meeting and that herself and her team were always looking for ways in which to engage with our children. She highlighted a number of events and opportunities which had been held to encourage engagement, as well as identifying the launch of the new app.  


The Committee gave thanks to Ms Fisher and the attending young people, noting the enthusiasm and hard work of the whole team.


The Committee agreed: To give further consideration to the issue of improving communication with our young people via the issuing of mobile phones to school nurses.



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