Agenda item

Attendance of the Portfolio Holder for Children's Services (Lead Member)




Councillor Josie Iles, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services was in attendance and took questions from the Committee.


Members raised several questions and comments which included:


Judicial Review - the outcome of the judicial review against the Home Office to take any more Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children had been unsuccessful, and clarification was sought on the cost to accommodate each child’s placement. The Cabinet Member confirmed that the outcome of the judicial review put Medway Children’s services in a difficult position due to the impact on sufficiency for Medway children that were currently looked after. The associated costs for placement were variable and it was agreed that details of the actual cost would be provided following the meeting. It was further asked what the cost of the judicial review had been, and the Cabinet Member said it had been approximately £26000.


Corporate Parenting – it was commented that the Corporate Parenting Board had strengthened over the past few years and the direction of travel was encouraging. Awareness of roles and responsibilities by Councillors was an area that required improvement and it was disappointing that the opportunities to attend meetings to gain further understanding of principles underpinning being a good corporate parent were being missed.


Eden House - in response to a request for more information on Eden house the Cabinet Member said that this was a work in progress. The Head of Children’s Commissioning added that the aspiration was for all provision to be in house. There was more work needed to renovate the other building which was currently being scoped to bring it to the required level of standard to accommodate and support children with complex needs in the future.


Education Champions – in response to a question on outcomes of the work of the education champions, the Cabinet Member said that the work to date had been encouraging. Champions had met with the Head and Deputy Head of virtual schools regarding several issues including the placement of children outside of Medway and the concern regarding the transition process was an area that would be further explored.


Funding – in response to a question on whether the service would bid for

more funding from the DfE when the allocated funding to set up the multidisciplinary team ended on 31 March 2023, The Assistant Director, Children’s Social Care said that a proposal was being developed. The bid had yet to be submitted as the call for applications had yet to be made by the DfE. The proposals being put together would be for a broader range of funding for areas such as data support, recruitment, and quality assurance.


Increase in Children in Care - it was asked how the increasing number of children coming into care impacted the budget. The Cabinet Member stated that this remained a challenge. The number of children coming into care based on the improvements made to services should start to level off as progress continued to be made, but that this was dependent on wider societal determinants which could not be pre-empted.


The Vice Chairman thanked the Portfolio Holder for her attendance and engagement with Members.




 The Committee noted the report.



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