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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 6th October 2014

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Review of the Resolutions Fostering Service

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Scrutiny Committee on the outcome of consultation with Resolutions foster carers and staff members and implementation of the preferred option, i.e. to disband the service.

Recommendation

1.         That Scrutiny Committee notes the progress made in implementing the preferred option.

Reason for the Recommendation

1.         To enable Scrutiny Committee to exercise oversight of the progress made.

Background

2.         In 1993, Mid Glamorgan County Council established a fostering scheme specifically for young people who were remanded to the care of a local authority in criminal proceedings.  Following Local Government reorganisation, a number of Councils agreed to collaborate in maintaining this provision - Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and the Vale of Glamorgan.  Because the scheme was physically based in its area, Bridgend County Borough Council (CBC) agreed to host and manage the service.

3.         During 2001/2, demand for remand placements fell while demand for placements for young people with other complex and challenging behaviours increased.  In response, the scheme was changed to provide for this area of need.  It was renamed the Resolutions Adolescent Fostering Team, which became the Resolutions Fostering Service in 2009.

4.         The service was managed through a Management Board comprising the Heads of Children's Services from the four partner local Authorities, a representative of the Youth Offending Services in the partner authorities, the Accountant for Bridgend CBC and the Resolutions Team Manager.

5.         In June 2013, the Management Board agreed to commission an independent review of the service.  This decision was made as a result of the following factors:

  • developments across the South East Wales Improvement Collaborative (SEWIC) region in delivering more specialist in-house and externally provided fostering services;
  • inability of the service to increase the numbers of approved foster carers, as intended; and
  • resignation of the Team Manager, who had been in post for ten years.

6.         The report of the review is attached at Appendix 1.  The review identified a number of options for the Management Board to consider. 

Option 1: The service continues – This would mean that a new Team Manager is appointed and a clear business plan and marketing strategy for the service developed. The service could continue to be hosted by Bridgend or one of the other partner local authorities.

Option 2: The service is brought to an end – This required that Resolutions staff would be offered redeployment opportunities.

Option 3: The service is sold on the open market – This would require agreement by the carers as without the carers there would be little to sell. Implications for Resolutions staff would also need to be considered.

Option 4: The service is maintained in its current state with existing interim arrangements but no action is taken to recruit more Resolution carers and gradually the service will cease to function.

7.         The Resolutions Management Board met to consider the review report and concluded that Option 2 was preferred.  On 16th December 2013, this was reported to Cabinet in the Vale of Glamorgan which resolved to endorse Option 2 and to authorise the Head of Children and Young People Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services, to agree implementation of the required processes following conclusion of the formal consultation.  The matter was referred to this Scrutiny Committee on 13th January 2014, as part of the consultation process.  The Committee requested a further report at an appropriate time, outlining how the process of implementing the preferred option had progressed.

  Relevant Issues and Options

8.         Option 2 has been implemented in full.  A decision was made by the Management Board to cease referrals to Resolutions in March 2014 and the service was brought to an end in June 2014.  Where the Vale of Glamorgan has children already placed with Resolutions carers, they will remain in placement for as long as this is appropriate for them. 

9.         During consultation, the majority of carers chose to remain with Bridgend CBC.  One carer sought approval through an independent fostering agency and one is being assessed as a carer for the Vale of Glamorgan.  Redeployment opportunities were secured for staff employed by Bridgend CBC.  All carers will receive protected allowances on Resolutions rates until the end of March 2015.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      In comparison to in-house foster care, a Resolutions placement was high cost.  In terms of Independent Fostering Agencies, a Resolutions placement was competitive.  The Vale of Glamorgan Children and Young People Services Division actively promotes the use of in-house foster care provision before seeking placement with an independent fostering agency.  The current strategy in place is to increase the number of in-house placements and to reduce our reliance on independent foster placements.  

11.      Until the end of March 2015, any placement with a carer who was previously part of the Resolutions service will be paid at Resolutions rates.  From April 2015, allowances will be paid at Bridgend local authority rates.  There is no management fee payable following the end of the service in June 2014.  The proposals will fall within the existing budget.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

12.      Placing children closer to their own communities is likely to have significant benefits for them but it also reduces the amount of travel involved in supporting the placement and the child.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

13.      In implementing the preferred option, there have been HR implications for the remaining staff employed within the Resolutions Service.  As the employing authority, Bridgend County Borough Council has used their own relevant HR policies and procedures to manage these issues as necessary. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising as a result of this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.      The option agreed by the Management Board meant that Resolutions foster carers had choices to make in terms of their future fostering roles.  All the children and young people in placement with the service have been protected by the inter-agency transfer protocol to which all fostering agencies adhere.  Effectively, this means that for those carers who chose to remain with Bridgend, transfer to a partner local authority or to an IFA, their Resolutions placements transferred with them.  Case responsibility remains with the placing local authority for the duration of the placement.  In this way, the transfer has not had an adverse impact on the young people in placement. 

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.      Social Services in the Vale of Glamorgan review, plan, design and develop quality services that deliver best value for money to improve outcomes for individuals.

17.      To provide affordable high quality placements that meet the diverse range of children's needs is a key principle underpinning the Council's Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy 2013/18.

Policy Framework and Budget

18.      This is a matter for Executive decision. 

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

19.      All relevant parties had the opportunity to engage in the independent review.  This included representatives from partner local authorities (Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Vale of Glamorgan), Resolutions foster carers and Resolutions staff.  The final review report and the Management Board’s preferred option was shared with staff and carers in the formal consultation process that followed.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

20.      Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

Children and Young People Services - Commissioning Strategy 2013-18.

Cabinet report on 16 December, 2013 - Review of the Resolutions Fostering Service.

 

Contact Officer

Rachel Evans, Head of Children and Young People Services

 

Officers Consulted

As host authority for the service, Bridgend CBC took appropriate financial, HR and legal advice.

 

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

 

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