Councillor Little, Portfolio Holder for Children and Adult Social Care, presented her Portfolio Holder report and stated that since her last report the following successful developments had taken place:
• The Shared Lives scheme had 5 care arrangements in place and a further 3 were in the pipeline.
• There were now 52 Micro Enterprises established.
• The Micro Enterprises will be meeting in Committee Rooms 2 and 3 on the 7 November 2018 from 9.30am to 3.30pm and encouraged Members to come and visit.
• The Chichester Close for people with learning disabilities was now complete.
• The Independent Alliance had been reviewed and was now free for all service users.
• The new residential care home in Whiteacre/Dilkes Wood site in South Ockendon had been agreed.
• The ground works had commenced on the 6 units for the new scheme launched to support young people with autism.
• The number of children in care and the number of children on protected plans had been reduced.
• The Ofsted report had stated performance had improved.
• The adoption service had been brought back in house.
Councillor Okunade thanked the Portfolio Holder for the report and the highlighted achievements but questioned the process taken to ensure that there would be no risk to those children on protection plans as part of these reductions. Councillor Little stated that every child was safe and this was not a cost cutting exercise as children were more important that money. Councillor Little assured Members that the process had been seen by Ofsted and would be a positive move forward and that work would continue with early intervention at schools and working with families.
Councillor Holloway thanked the Portfolio Holder for the report and stated that workforce was key to ensuring that the best were recruited into Thurrock to guarantee that excellent adult social services be provided. Councillor Little stated a positive recruitment drive had taken place that reached out to communities and work was underway on how to promote this profession.
Councillor J Kent referred the Portfolio Holder to the fragile domicilary care services and questioned why Thurrock only paid £16.25 instead of the £18.01 care allowance. Councillor Little stated that the care allowance had been uplifted by the Administration following this allowance being set at £13.50 by Labour. Councillor Little stated that the domicilary care packages had been accepted and used by other providers.
Councillor Spillman thanked the Portfolio Holder for the report and asked whether the portfolio holder knew of any child that had come to any serious harm under the care of the Thurrock Children’s Services department. Councillor Little said there were none.
Councillor Cherry asked the Portfolio Holder whether she was concerned that the Thurrock Children’s service believed they were above democratic scrutiny. Councillor Little stated the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee look at what was being undertaken and that perhaps the Thurrock Independents should have nominated a chair to that committee when the opportunity arose earlier in the meeting.
Councillor Worrall questioned what was being done to ensure young people leaving care would have access to accommodation of their own rather than shared. Councillor Worrall also asked what assurances are given to those university care leavers that they can return to the borough following graduation. Councillor Little stated that this was a question for Councillor Halden.
Councillor Little thanked Officers, Directors and Foster Carers in Thurrock and stated that all Members were Corporate Parents who should be aware and support all the events taking place.
Councillor Little referred Members to the “Give a Gift” tree at Lakeside where Members were encouraged to offer their time and encouraged to take a star.